Valbray and Leica present the EL1 Chrono

Valbray Leica 100 years EL1 Chrono watch


For  the “100 years anniversary of Leica photography” Valbray and Leica officially announced the EL1 Chrono. The price for the limited edition watch (100 pieces) will be 17,990 (around $24,500):

The birth of the project

New projects often arise by meetings guided by destiny. The birth of the watch EL1 Chrono doesn’t make an exception…

Côme de Valbray is a real passionate of photography and Leica cameras.

Alfred Schopf, CEO of Leica Camera AG, watches lover and collector, discovered in 2013 the Oculus timepiece made by Valbray. Fascinated by this unique creation, he then asked to organize a meeting with the founders of Valbray.

Sharing the same passion for the ultimate mechanical perfection and individually handcrafted products, they decided to start the co-creation of a unique timepiece to celebrate the centennial of Leica Camera.

The timepiece

Chronograph based on black and white colors, the EL1 is made of titanium grade 5 with sanded finishes. The initials of its name are chosen as a tribute to Ernst Leitz, one of the founders of Leica brand, Leica is the contraction of Leitz and camera.

The bezel integrates the “Oculus” diaphragm system of Valbray and becomes the undeniable link between the two partner’s houses. This mechanism recalls the pleasure of handling the objective of a traditional camera, and more specifically the “firing” of the shutter.

The manual revolution of the rotating bezel acts on the16 thin blades that gradually reveal the dial in a circular way, being a magic recall of a Leica diaphragm.

In its closed version the EL1 Chrono provides the essential reading of time given by the main hands: hours and minutes. Essential, as the click of the photographer who captures the moment. In its open appearance, the EL1 reveals the chronograph, the ultimate instrument for measuring time.

The highlight of the bezel is adorned with four parts of white engravings. Theirs pace, reminiscent of the four quarters of time, is relayed by fine lateral veins of the crown, who presents the Leica Camera logo.

Red color subtly lying down the dial, the type of the font used and others details of the dial are all stylistic recalls of Leica cameras.

The indication of the date (at 3h), the cursor minutes (at noon) and the hours (at 6h) recall the layout settings. The seconds (at 9h) reproduce the design of the isometry button. Finally, the metallic 4.5 applied at 4 hours and half, evokes the aperture of the first Leica.

On the back of the watch, the automatic Valjoux movement with an open worked rotor is visible through a sapphire glass, darkened in a nod to the black room.

Manufactured in two references, 50 titanium and 50 with a black DLC treatment, for a total edition of 100 numbered watches, each one is equipped with two different straps, evoking the cameras bands: a black in calf negonda and another in calfskin mat brown and raw stitching. They are easily changeable with a specific screwdriver provided with the watch.

Collector timepiece, the EL1 Chrono signs the meeting between watchmaking and photography, around common values ​​such as connection with time, the essentiality of the moment, aesthetics and, of course, the passion.

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Valbray and Leica present unique chronographs

On the occasion of the celebration of 100 Years of Leica Photography, Valbray – the renowned Swiss watchmakers from Lausanne – presents a special limited edition: the EL1 Chronograph. This watch is strictly limited to only 100 exemplars and is engraved with the Leica logo features on the crown and ‘100 Years of Leica Photography’ engraved on the back. The EL1 Chronograph is distinguished by the unique shutter system of Valbray that acts as a cover for the face and can be opened and closed by turning the bezel. This mechanism is patented and handcrafted from 16 single blades integrated on a rotatable bezel of 46mm. When completely open, the blades are hidden and reveal the specially designed chronograph of the watch. The hours, the minutes and the stopwatch function are all also readable when the diaphragm is closed.

‘The collaboration between Leica and Valbray brings together two premium brands that share the passion for utmost mechanical perfection and individually handcrafted products,’ says Alfred Schopf, chairman of the executive board at Leica Camera AG, on whose initiative this collaboration is based. Alfred Schopf, himself a connoisseur of fine mechanical timepieces, established the contact to Côme de Valbray, the founder of Valbray. Côme de Valbray is an enthusiastic photographer who has used Leica cameras for many years. Together, they laid the foundations for the creation of the Valbray EL1 Chronograph as a special centennial edition.

Made of titanium grade 5 with sanded finishes, the watch presents four white engravings on its bezel, one each quarters of time. The dials are all stylistic recalls of Leica cameras. The indication of the date (at 3h), the cursor minutes (at noon) and the hours (at 6h) recall the layout settings. The seconds (at 9h) reproduce the design of the isometry button. Finally, the metallic 4.5 applied at 4 hours and half, evokes the aperture of the very first Leica camera – the “Ur-Leica”. On the back of the watch, the automatic Swiss movement with an open worked rotor is visible through a sapphire glass, darkened in a nod to the black room. The timepiece will appear in two versions: 50 pieces in sanded titanium and 50 pieces with a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating. Each chronograph will be supplied with an iconic jewel case together with two bracelets that can be exchanged with a special tool provided.

This limited-edition Valbray EL1 Chronograph will be available only from selected Leica Stores and selected Valbray boutiques from June 25th 2014 at a price of 17,990 euros.

Technical specs:

Product Name Valbray EL1 – Chrono (The initials of its name are chosen as a tribute to Ernst Leitz, one of the founders of Leica brand, Leica I the contraction of Leitz and camera.)
Material Titanium grade 5
Diameter 46 mm
Patent 16-blade diaphragm integrated on a rotating bezel
Movement Mechanical auto-winding Swiss chronograph movement
Frequency: 28’800 alt/h (4 Hz)
25 functional jewels
44 hours of power reserve
Water resistance to 5 ATM
Sapphire glass cover and case back
Limited edition 100 numbered pieces (50 for the Titanium reference and 50 for the Black one)

Read more at Valbray and Leica websites.

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