This stunning watch was on show at Baselworld 2014, and it celebrates 100 years of Leica Photography. The commemorative watch is the Valbray EL1 Chronograph, strictly limited to only 100 pieces and engraved with the distinctive Leica logo featured on the crown and ‘100 Years of Leica Photography’ engraved on the case back.
The EL1 Chronograph features Valbray’s ingenious Oculus diaphragm system that covers and uncovers the face of the dial by simply turning the bezel. The mechanism is just like aperture blades and they are constructed 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.
As to why Leica and Valbray came together to create the special edition, well, it’s the usual suspects in terms of reasons, they feel that they share an identical passion for ultimate mechanical perfection and individually handcrafted products. Alfred Schopf, Executive Chairman of Leica Camera AG, a connoisseur of fine mechanical timepieces, approached Côme de Valbray, the founder of Valbray. He in turn 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 3 o’ clock), the cursor minutes (at noon) and the hours (at 6 o’ clock) recall the layout settings. The seconds (at 9 o’ clock) reproduce the design of the isometry button. Finally, the metallic 4.5 applied at 4:30 evokes the aperture of the first Leica.
On the case back, the automatic Swiss movement features an open worked rotor 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 the remaining 50 with DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating. Each chronograph will be supplied complete with two different bracelets that can be exchanged with the aid of a special tool provided.
This limited-edition Valbray EL1 Chronograph will be available from Leica Stores and selected Valbray boutiques from June 2014 at a price of EUR17,999.
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
Dial Multi - layered with a honeycomb grid
Sapphire Glass Cover and case back
Limited edition 100 numbered pieces (50 for the Titanium reference and 50 for the Black one)
Visit the Valbray Watches website