LeJour Chronograph
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LeJour Chronograph

The 1970s were a time of great change in the watch industry. They were a decade marked not only by advances in technology, but by innovation in design as well. Avant-garde designs like Gerald Genta’s creations for Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, the Royal Oak and Nautilus, were blueprints for the funky styles that would follow.

And in the world of chronographs, Heuer was experimenting as well. The svelte cases of the 1960s, typified by the long-lugged Carrera, gave way to the cushion case of the Autavia, or the stocky square case of the Monaco. Throughout the 70s, as Heuer populated its collection with watches powered by the Calibre 11 or Chronomatic movement, almost all of its chronographs would be equipped with the new cushion cases.

As for the thousands of cases that Heuer churned out for manual-wind chronographs, they didn’t lay disused—many were sold to private labels or distribution companies for export.

One of those companies was LeJour.

Though best known for being a distributor of French brand Yema, known for their popular regatta timers, LeJour also distributed watches made by other brands. In the late 1970s, LeJour entered into such a relationship with Heuer. Many of the watches LeJour sold for Heuer had the distinctive profile of the Carrera, leading to their being called “poor man’s Carreras.”

It’s uncertain how this arrangement began, but some speculate that as Heuer rolled out chronographs powered by automatic movements, companies like LeJour were able to snatch up the cases for manual-wind chronographs for pennies on the dollar. By the 1980s this relationship between LeJour and Heuer was formalized. Heuer produced versions of their chronographs, like the PVD-coated Pasadena, which LeJour then sold under its own name.

This particular chronograph, dating from the 1970s, has a lot going for it that would make any collector of vintage chronographs happy.

Starting from the outside and working our way in, the sharp-lugged chrome-plated case was made by Gigandet, best known for making cases used by Breitling and Wakmann. The dial is a fun play on the classic “panda” color-way, with black registers on a silver sunburst background, and a splash of red on the chronograph seconds hand. The chronograph second hand may very well be the most interesting design element on the watch as it's square tipped- perfect for framing the date aperture at 12:00 when in its resting position. Inside beats a Valjoux 7734 with the bridge stamped “J.P. Penguoin”—the company responsible for importing LeJour watches into the U.S.

As a child of the 70s, this LeJour is fun and funky, but in an overall style that well suits the tastes of today. 

Details

SKU: AS02188

Chrome-plated case is approximately 37mm (excluding crown and pushers). Valjoux 7734.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition throughout with minor signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with crisp printing and fine patina to the luminescent hour plots. Unsigned crown. Case back has some signs of wear but is in very good condition.

Includes one 18mm dark brown leather strap.

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