Lebois & Co. may sound familiar to some. Originally founded in 1934, the brand was revived by Dutch entrepreneur Tom van Wijlick. French watchmaker Raymond Dodane (third generation of a watchmaking family) founded the company to produce affordable luxury Swiss timepieces. Following World War II, it was taken over by Italian importers who outsourced production to Swiss manufacturers, including Dodane. Production stopped in 1972, and the brand effectively disappeared, only to be re-registered by Tom van Wijlick in 2014 with the approval of the Dodane family. The brand has since launched multiple, limited editions of the Avantgarde Date model and is back in 2019 with the Venturist.
Before we move to the watch itself, there are two standouts with this latest piece, starting with an advanced chronometer certification and then an opportunity to acquire 25 shares of company stock with the purchase. The Venturist Shareholder Package allows for discounts on future Lebois & Co. models and potentially a seat on the Advisory Board.
The 316L stainless steel case is 41mm in diameter and 10.5mm in height with sapphire crystals on the front and back. The matte black dial has a smooth central section surrounded by a ridged outer ring, and a narrow minute track spans the outermost perimeter. Large, applied indices sit within the ridged section with Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. All indices are filled with Super-LumiNova BGW9, along with the entirety of the silver hour and minute hands. The seconds hand has lume in its triangular tip. LEBOIS & CO is printed at the top with the new shield logo, designed in 2016 and derived from the coat of arms of the van Wylick family. Those who purchase the Shareholder Package will get a unique shareholder hallmark on the screw-down caseback. The Lebois & Co. shield is also stamped at the end of the crown, and the case is water-resistant to 100 metres.
The heart of the Venturist is the Sellita-based calibre LC-201 with 26 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) and a 38-hour power reserve. Seen through the exhibition caseback, it’s decorated with Côtes de Genève, perlage, diamond cutting and blued screws. This is a time-only movement with central hours, minutes and seconds. Adjusted in five positions, it’s also an Observatoire Chronométrique+ certified chronometer.
This means that the watch meets the requirements of the independent Swiss horology laboratory TIMELAB in accordance with the internationally recognized ISO/CEI 3159 standard (above ISO 3159 from the COSC laboratory). Every individual Venturist (the watch, not only the movement) is tested in Geneva for 21 days, including on-the-wrist performance in various conditions. The rating extends to reliability as well, including water resistance (ISO 22810), magnetic resistance (ISO 764) and power reserve. Accuracy must fall within -4/+6 seconds per day.
The strap is a black NATO style with genuine Shell Cordovan leather on the underside. Pre-order prices are USD 2,321 for the Venturist (watch only) and USD 2,516 for the Venturist Shareholder Package. Lebois & Co offers a two-year international warranty and deliveries are expected in Q1 2020. More information can be found at Lebois & Co.’s website.