A visit to “Les Ateliers” (editor’s note, the place where most independent watchmakers exhibit) at Baselworld 2018 can sometimes bring very nice surprises – especially if you have a love for old-school chronograph watches. The Claude Meylan Légende 69 is a clean, simple, elegant stopwatch. As its name suggests, it is powered by a vintage Valjoux 69 chronograph movement, entirely refurbished and redecorated by Claude Meylan, an independent watchmaker based in the Vallée de Joux, specialised in crafting skeletonised watches.
The hand-wound column wheel chronograph found in this elegant and clean watch is a refinished old-stock Valjoux 69 calibre, a movement introduced in the late 1930s (more precisely, we talk about new movements created with old-stock parts). The origins of the legendary chronograph maker Valjoux go as far back as the late 19th century when the Reymond brothers set up their movement manufacture in the Vallée de Joux. Reymond Frères SA would become Valjoux in 1929. The company is known today for the ubiquitous architecture of 7750, and some of the most prominent watchmakers have used Valjoux movements: Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet or Vacheron Constantin – to name but a few.
With its 23.40mm diameter, this small chronograph movement incorporates a column wheel and a horizontal clutch – a classical, well-known and visually pleasant architecture. It features 17 jewels and runs at 18,000 vibrations per hour and it can store some 38 hours of power reserve.
The Claude Meylan Légende 69 has an elegant, simple round case with mushroom pushers. Claude Meylan points out that it is available in precious metals only (rose or white gold). With its 31mm diameter, it definitely is a small watch – not only to current standards but even to 1960s standards. Today, it makes a perfect ladies’ chronograph but it might be a worthy option if you are nostalgic for bygone elegance. And if the small size of this Valjoux-powered chronograph is a deal breaker, Claude Meylan encases other, larger, old-stock Valjoux chronographs movements (Valjoux 88, 23 or 72) in larger watches too.
The Claude Meylan Légende 69 is presented with a silver-coloured dial with Arabic numerals and leaf-shaped hands. It is worn on an alligator leather strap secured to the wrist by a pin buckle. Price is set at CHF 18,500 in rose gold, CHF 21,500 in white gold. It is not a limited edition but availability is scarce as Claude Meylan mentions they have about 20 movements to refinish. For more information on Claude Meylan watches, please visit www.claudemeylan.ch.