In the previous article (see here), we’ve introduced you to the man behind the brand and the philosophy that drives Fabien Lamarche and his team when creating timepieces. It’s time now to go deeper by giving you our thoughts on the whole collection. And let’s be clear about it, we’ve borne witness to serious expertise and some exceptional quality standards. In this second installment, we are going to introduce you to three watches, all manufactured around a single spirit but with a different interpretation for each.
Common aspects of Julien Coudray 1548
The collection of Julien Coudray 1518 is composed of three models: a classic 39mm three-hands called Manufactura 1528, a 43mm small seconds called Classica 1548 and a 43mm one-minute tourbillon, Competentia 1515. All of them share the same case design with a classical approach, close to what we can find in pocket watches – a round shape with lugs adjusted by dovetail – and a baroque touch brought in by the fluted edges of the bezel. The absolute in classism, but nothing boring though. These three watches are very elegant and have a true presence once they’re on the wrist, showing the connoisseur the quality of the object without being ostentatious for the profane, even if the case is all mirror polished.
The dial is also an ode to antique clocks. It’s made of solid gold covered with opal white enamel. Around the dial, you can find 12 cambered pieces, surrounded with an elegant gold lining. The blue-heated ‘alpha’ hands are also very traditional, but once again, the level of finishing is outstanding. Nothing here is spectacular or showy and yet at the same time, the dials are very lively, showing some nice reliefs.
The upper part of the dial shows a very little aperture and maybe you wonder what it is, just like we did. This is a service indicator. As you can see on the very first picture, there is a rotating disc, with an oil droplet that will inform you whenever you have to overhaul your watch. From the words of Fabien Lamarche, it is set for 4 years in fully running conditions, so expect approximately 8 to 10 years in a normal use, that is, while you’re sharing your wrist-time with other watches. (Note that the first service is included in the price and the manufacture offers a 10-year warranty).
Turning over the watches makes you enter a completely different atmosphere, with a stunning level of craftsmanship, whether you’re admiring the polished beveled angles or the engraved adornments. As you can see, the movement is made of the same metal as the case. If the dials are classical, or let’s say subtle for most of the collection, the movements are a pure exhibit of the Julien Coudray 1518 team’s talents. The whole presentation is somehow baroque and classic, however it’s a magnificent showcase of the level of expertise.
Nothing is standard with this manufacture; everything can be changed in accordance to the client’s desires. The dials, for instance, are fully customizable with your own design.
Let’s first have a look at the Manufactura 1528, a classical interpretation of a dress watch. This three-hands timepiece, which, just like the rest of the models, is available in yellow, red and white gold and platinum. Its movement is always crafted in the same metal. The Manufactura 1528 wears quite small with its 39mm case, with short, curved lugs – a deliberate choice that suits rather well with the idea of a dress watch.
The back of the watch reveals a full gold movement, shown here in yellow gold. The movement measures 31mm and therefore it is sized accordingly to the diameter of the Manufactura 1528. It’s a modern movement with a solid gold balance wheel, beating at a frequency of 4hz (28.800vph) and offering 55h of power reserve once fully wound (which is done manually).
Once it is on the wrist, what immediately comes to mind is the weight of the watch. As the case and the movement are made of gold or platinum, it feels quite heavy, weighing more than 150 grams. The platinum movement alone weighs 41 grams, a weight that is more or less the total weight of a sports watch. But as the size is very modest and as the lugs are elegantly curved, the watch sits very comfortable on the wrist. The second thing you notice, and what keeps your eyes on the object, is the enameled dial, with its milky or shiny reflections (depending to the light).
The Manufactura 1528 comes as a limited edition of 28 pieces per version. The number of the watch can be seen on the dial, at 8, engraved in a gold plate. And than there’s the option for a pièce unique, as can be seen above. Prices of the Manufactura 1528 in gold start at CHF 70,000 Swiss Francs.
The Competentia 1515 is an impressive timepiece, not only because it’s a tourbillon, but mostly because of the level of work exhibited on the dial. It’s a piece of art made of partitioned translucent enamel, an unusual and old technique called “plique à jour.” It allows a view on the main plate of the movement, with its Côte de Genève finish, and on the service indicator. The design of this central dial emphasizes every jewel used in the movement. Around the dial, we find the 12 cambered parts with Roman numerals, always in white enamel.
The Competentia 1515 is equipped with a power reserve indicator (between 8 and 9 o’clock position), the patented service indicator (visible through the aperture in the dial), a day/night indicator (on the backside of the movement) and of course the one-minute tourbillon. A complicated movement, but quite thin, at only 5mm in height, and with a 33mm diameter. The tourbillon beats at 4hz and the movement offers 55h of power reserve.
Once again, on the wrist, this is a heavy watch, at nearly 200 grams, and with a respectable size of 43 mm. And even with this size, it wears perfectly comfortable due to the short and curved lugs. We have to admit, we actually loved the (relatively) heavy weight of the watch, which is quite surprising for an elegant watch.
The one we tried here was made in platinum and offers a gorgeous colour combination: the blue of the “plique à jour” enamel playing with the bluish reflections of the platinum. By the way, the platinum movement of the Competentia 1515 is heavier than the movement of the Manufactura 1528, and weighs 52 grams (that is just the movement). The three gold versions come with a red-brown enamel central disc.
The whole score played by the Competentia 1515 is astonishing; the dial is gorgeous and gives the watch a real identity. This is another piece of Ultra Haute Horlogerie. Prices of the Competentia 1515 in gold start at CHF 150,000 Swiss Francs.
The Classica 1548 uses the same formula as the two other watches we’ve already presented: an enamel dial in 13 parts, a gold or platinum case – here in 43mm – but with another display and a completely different calibre. The latest creation of Fabien Lamarche is visually purer, in that not a single inscription appears on the dial (not even the brand name), and the calibre includes both fewer engravings and more open bridges.
The movement is completely new and offers several improvements: it features a double-barrel hand-wound caliber, boasting a 100h power reserve. this new movement also features a stop seconds system and a zero-reset, meaning that when you set the time, the seconds hand stops and comes back to zero in order to set the time precise to the second! Another technical innovation: a titanium and gold balance wheel which is more precise. The design of the movement is really nice; especially those three bridges for the gear train, creating a sort of stairway. The finishing focuses more on the edges’ polishing than on the engraving, as we can find re-entrant angles and beveled angles on all the bridges, all painstakingly handmade.
The Classica 1548 is maybe the most mature timepiece of the Julien Coudray 1518 collection. As simple as it can look, it’s a modern, complicated watch and it brings a high-level of quality (again). Fabien Lamarche is taking a more ambitious approach with this model, as it will not be crafted in a limited edition. The Classica 1548 in gold is priced at CHF 85,000 Swiss Francs.
To conclude, in addition to this “standard” collection, Julien Coudray 1518 offers lots options for pièce unique, as you can see below in the photos of the Humanoid face, based on the Competentia 1515, and of the “Pétales d’Autonme” a feminine and elegant piece based on the Manufactura 1528. Next week we’ll show you Julien Coudray’s newest timepiece: a sports watch, so stay tuned!
More info: www.juliencoudray1518.ch