Spot On – The School Watch Chronograph

by Ross Povey - May 24 2016

In this first edition of ’Spot On…’ we want to share with you an amazing and very cool steel chrono that we recently discovered – proof that there are still amazing pieces to be found out there if you look hard enough!

B&S W-216 Le Locne Chrono 18

B&S W-216 Le Locne Chrono 14

Without doubt one of the hottest trends in the watch world at the moment is stainless steel chronos. This was highlighted at the recent ‘Start Stop Reset’ sale that Phillips and Pucci Papaleo curated where two world records for Rolex watches were set and previously humble pieces achieved prices way beyond what many expected.

Dato Compax

A moonphase and annual calendar complication, known as a Dato Compax, give this watch a very elegant, balanced and classic look that take the serious complications effortlessly in its stride – this is a confident watch. There is so much good stuff to look at on this dial, from the concentric sub-dial registers to the subtle way in which the calendar dates on the outer circumference subtle switch orientation to make the layout easier to read. Even the fonts on the seconds and calendar track look sylish and the red tip on the date hand is a garish, but perfectly formed splash.

B&S W-216 Le Locne Chrono 12

Whether worn on one of our slim handmade leather watch straps or on a vintage Oyster-style rivet construction bracelet, it’s a watch that oozes the class and pedigree of a half-million Euro piece…and it has more than passing resemblance to a Jean Claude Killy Rolex.

B&S W-216 Le Locne Chrono 16

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But what is it exactly?

When the Apprentice Becomes The Master

This watch is an example of what people refer to as a ‘school watch’ or ‘montre ecole’. In order for a watchmaking student to graduate from their studies, they had to assemble a watch; their practical dissertation of sorts. In the second half of the 19th century, Swiss technical colleges were established and being Switzerland there was a high demand to officially train watchmakers to staff the huge watch making industry for the which the nation is so well known.

B&S W-216 Le Locne Chrono 11

In the early days students worked on pocket watches, but as the trend for pocket watches passed, students began working on and making wristwatches – the new era.

Technicum_Le_Locle_(1)

There were a number of Ecoles D’Horlogerie but our research has led to us uncovering a number of interesting pieces that were made at the same school as our example – Le Locle. Le Locle is a small town, a few miles away from La Chaux-de-Fonds, that is considered to be the birthplace of the Swiss watchmaking tradition with its horological roots going back to the 1600s. The Ecole D’Horlogerie there is held in very high regard and has a long tradition of its producing beautiful watches.

School Watch 1

School Watch 2

The watches that the students had to build were assembled as opposed to being made from scratch. The students were given movements, which they could modify and finish to the highest standards that their skill would allow. Originally, the students were given ‘school movements’ when they were still in the pocket watch era, but with the move to wristwatches they worked on base calibers from different manufacturers. The Le Locle school utilized Valjoux calibers, introducing the Valjoux 72c in 1946 and then the Valjoux 88 in approximately 1950 (according to school records).

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Our watch was worked on by a student called “D. Sandoz’. The Valjoux caliber 88 has clearly been worked on by Sandoz, as aesthetically some movement parts have been enhanced beyond what we would expect to see on a base caliber.

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So there it is – the spotlight on a spot on watch with a fascinating story and rich heritage in the Swiss watchmaking tradition. And above all else, it is a very beautiful and desirable watch that we don’t think we will ever tire of wearing and enjoying!

 

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