Riding the SCUBA diving’s rising wave, Le Forban Sécurité Mer seized the opportunity, presenting its inaugural dive watches in 1969. Also responding to the French Navy’s call for reliable and rugged tool watches tailored to the daily rigours of divers and maritime professionals, the Paris-based company delved into the task with a relentless focus on legibility and utilitarianism to ensure the watch could withstand the challenges of military exploits. The successful realisation of this mission birthed a dive watch proudly adorned with Le Forban Sécurité Mer’s anchor logo. The brand’s communication highlights the lasting impact of the Le Forban Sécurité Mer of 1969, recalling its audacious name, evocative logo, and robust personality, etched in the memories of many former sailors and divers.
The turbulent waters of the quartz crisis that brought giants to their knees didn’t spare Le Forban; it sank. However, like a resilient mariner emerging from the depths, the French brand made a return in 2019, powered by the resurgence of vintage watch enthusiasm. The Malouine‘s release in 2019 and the Brestoise‘s in 2021 marked a promising return. In 2023, Le Forban Sécurité Mer presents the Rochelaise, drawing inspiration from the watch designs of the 60s and 70s, and it’s here to solidify the brand’s style.
The Rochelaise, named after the famous French port on the Atlantic, La Rochelle (remember your high school history lessons, the Siège de la Rochelle…), thus continuing the tradition started with the Malouine and Brestoise, which honour ports of St. Malo and Brest. Yet the Rochelaise offers a different look with its cushion-like, or “turtle” stainless steel case very reminiscent of the 1970s, and a distinctive black inner bezel with markings pressed into metal, rotated in both directions using the crown at 2 o’clock – a compressor-style watch if you like. With a 39mm diameter, 11.4mm thickness and lug-to-lug dimensions of 46mm, the Rochelaise ought to be a comfortable watch to wear. The screw-down winding crown at 3 o’clock and the solid screw-on caseback, embossed with the nautical rope image as a nod to the Corderie Royale, the Royal Ropemaking Factory of Rochefort – a place to visit on your next trip to Nouvelle-Aquitaine – and located close to La Rochelle (40km), contribute to water resistance up to 150m.
With this new Le Forban model, two dials will be available, the sand grey and the sea green, the latter supposedly the colour of the water in La Rochelle. Both feature a sunburst finish and polished chromed indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, with a Super-LumiNova stripe in the middle and printed with lume remaining indices to complete the hour indications. Super-LumiNova dots take place on the inner bezel, with a triangle at 12. There’s no date indication, something many enthusiastic watch enthusiasts will appreciate.
Both dial variants are exemplary in legibility, with the broad hour and minute hands and the lollypop red central second hand, all SuperLuminova C3 treated (just the lollypop part for the second hand). The Le Forban Sécurité Mer anchor logo, the model name and the subtle blue-white-red underline make sure you understand you are dealing with a French product, even though this isn’t mentioned anywhere on the watch. Le Forban watches are designed and assembled in France; for timekeeping, Rochelaise trusts an automatic Miyota 9039 with 42 hours of power reserve.
The Le Forban Sécurité Mer Rochelaise is presented in the cherished vintage spirit that defines the brand, pairing the watches with a silicone Tropic strap (mineral blue or sea green) closed with a buckle, and a retro fine-mesh steel bracelet, secured with a clasp. The price is EUR 740 for the strap version and EUR 790 for the bracelet, which looks reasonable. With the Rochelaise, Le Forban Sécurité Mer continues to navigate the currents of watchmaking, steering towards new horizons while proudly carrying the legacy of its former glory. The next port of call, the brand informs, is Marseille…
For more information or purchase, please visit leforbansecuritemer.com.
Sponsored post: This article is sponsored by Le Forban Sécurité Mer. However, it reflects the writer’s opinion and has been written according to MONOCHROME’s editorial policy.