Independent watchmaking brand Valbray, one of the most youthful companies in the industry pay tribute to the centenary of German photography brand Leica with a unique timepiece tribute.
Valbray EL1 “100 Years of Leica Photography Edition” – A new Concept
When two creative minds combine, great things can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Côme de Valbray came to write his graduation thesis he focused on the two things which inspired him most – photography and optics. Olga Corsini created beautiful designs influenced by the curlicue of sea-shells. When both individuals met, they found a common bond and similarities between the things which enthused them and the diaphragm which controls the aperture and therefore the light which enters a lens. A new concept was born, but it posed a challenge – how could such a feature be integrated into the design of a wristwatch? Two years of research and development using the skills of a dedicated team passed before Valbray had its unique obturator system ready for patent.
Valbray EL1 “100 Years of Leica Photography Edition” – Dual Personality
Termed the “Oculus”, the system comprises of 16 extra thin blades, integrated into a rotating bezel. The diaphragm opens and closes by sliding the blades on each other on a constant and regular circular shape – just like the lens of a camera, and just how Côme de Valbray had imagined it to be. At maximum the “shutters” disappear, offering forth an entirely different persona for the watch dial.
Valbray EL1 “100 Years of Leica Photography Edition” – Authentic Partnership
This year Valbray and Leica come together to mark the 100th anniversary of Leica photography forming such a perfect partnership, that even those who are cynical about such collaborations, must surely see the merits of this authentic dalliance. With the unique Oculus system, Alfred Schopf, CEO of Leica Camera AG immediately recognised the creative potential which a relationship with Valbray could bring. With Leica, M. Valbray discovered a company whose products were at the very essence of his vision for watch design.
Two options of the new Valbray EL1 Chronograph will be produced, with sanded titanium case or a black DLC coated titanium version, each of which offers striking monochrome aesthetics. In its closed position the dial presents its time only guise, when the shutter is opened the chronograph is revealed and at once the character of this piece is transformed, with a technical appearance which features a honeycomb background onto which the distinctive Valbray “V” is superimposed. Broad openworked hands indicate the hours and the minutes, but there are no hour or minute markers – except at 4.30 in tribute to the fixed aperture of f 4.5 which was a feature of Leica’s first camera. At the dial edge, the inner ring is reminiscent of the rim of a Leica camera lens. Inside, the Valbray EL1 Chronograph uses as its base the Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement which provides a power reserve of 44 hours. The Valbray EL1 “100 Years of Leica Photography Edition” watch will be limited to 50 pieces of each case option.
This limited-edition Valbray EL1 Chronograph will be available from Leica Stores and selected Valbray boutiques from June 2014 at a price of 17,999 euros. More information available in the official un-edited press release we published in Mai 2014.