Julien Coudray is an up-and-coming independent watch brand you may or may not have heard before. With a full-fledged manufacture at their disposal and a unique aesthetic direction, Julian Coudray is definitely a brand to keep an eye on.
The Le Locle based brand Julien Coudray 1518 was launched in 2012 by Fabien Lamarche, who up until then had been one of the major manufacturers and suppliers in the region, catering to several brands’ outsourcing needs. In his years as a supplier, Fabien has been able to hone his manufacture’s skills at just about everything from micro-component milling to enamel painting.
And where does the name Julien Coudray come from, you ask? Julien Coudray was one of the earliest known French watchmakers to have officially been assigned the term “horloger”, as he was the very first watchmaker to be appointed by the royal court of 16th century France. Julien Coudray is also credited for creating the first spring-loaded portable movement.
Okay, so taking up the name of an obscure watchmaker from a couple of centuries ago is nothing new, yet for Julien Coudray it’s not about just acquiring history. It’s about paying homage to a time where there was no watch industry, no suppliers, no hi-tech materials, and above all no shortcuts. It’s about perfecting every skill required to make a watch fit for a king.
Above all, it’s about making watches that are precious inside and out, and that means making movements out of the same materials the cases are. So in a rose gold watch for example, the movement’s bridges and plates would also be made of 18kt rose gold.
Today, Julien Coudray offer highly exclusive and often unique pieces of haute horlogerie that can be customized with one-off dials and movement decorations. Everything except the sapphire crystals and rubies is manufactured in-house at their Le Locle manufacture including the cases, dials, hands and micro-components. Heck, they even make their own display stands!
I’ll quickly take you through some of the pieces I’ve come across that really showcase what Julien Coudray are capable of.
Julien Coudray – Classica 1548
Easily my favorite piece from Julien Coudray is the ultra-classical yet original Classica 1548. Yet for a classical watch, it’s got a lot going for it: a true grand feu enamel dial (and by true I mean using a gold base disk instead of more heat-resistant ceramic) made of 13 individually enameled components, hands that are blued on the sides only, and lastly a white gold case housing a white gold movement.
I love how there’s no name or logo on the dial, save for the 8 o’clock hour marker with the Julien Coudray fleur-de-lys inspired logo. Just below 12 o’clock you have an aperture with a service indicator, slowly forming an oil drop symbol over the course of 4 years to remind you to send your watch in for a maintenance service. There’s an old-world charm about the 1548 that’s fanciful without being over-the-top.
Julien Coudray – Competentia 1515
The Competentia 1515 follows on the original yet classical aesthetics of the 1548, but this time bearing a tourbillon-equipped movement as well as a more ornate dial.
The watch is available is available in several case materials that can be custom-ordered with different dials and movements decoration, but perhaps the most noteworthy is the platinum version. Yes, it’s the most precious case material, but what really makes this watch unique is the movement, with plates and bridges made from 950 platinum. Besides being much more labor-intensive in machining parts, platinum is also much more challenging to finish and decorate than softer metals like brass and gold.
Julien Coudray – Ville de Genève
The unique piece bearing the crest of Geneva, aptly named the “Ville de Genève”, showcases some another side of Julien Coudray’s manufacturing prowess, this time in the arts of enameling and gem-setting. Julien Coudray make all their dials in-house at their Le Locle manufacture, and that goes for hand-painted enamel dials as well, fired several times in the traditional grand feu method.
Like the 1548 AND 1515 models above, the dial consists of multiple enameled parts, one for each hour-marker. But if you look closely at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 0’clock hour markers, you’ll notice there’s actually diamonds set into the enamel, something I don’t think I’ve seen on any other enamel dial.
Like the other watches from the brand, the movement’s plates and bridges are crafted in 18kt rose gold, matching the case. To resemble the dial side of the watch, several brilliant-cut diamonds set into the top plate of the movement, decorated with a floral pattern.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in shedding light on a brand that’s full of potential.
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