I am going to cover yet another one of those brands that few people are familiar with, but will most certainly appeal to the engineer in all of us. A contemporary brand launched just a couple of years ago but with true passion coursing through their veins. Besides the engineering part, one can also find a fair bit of humor in their latest iteration.
The story behind the brand is almost like a “what if…” story. What if an engineer and a designer join force? What if they decide to combine extensive experience in the luxury industry with a profound interest in watchmaking?
Well, allow me the opportunity to introduce to you; Valbray, the watchmaking brand started by Côme de Valbray and Olga Corsini. Côme de Valbray being French and Olga Corsini originating from Italy, two strong design and engineering backgrounds are intertwined. Extensive experience with Cartier Horlogerie (Côme), Bulgari, Gucci and Chaumet (Olga) seems like a combination meant to be and almost ensures appealing mechanics and designs.
Côme is clearly the engineer of the two, having graduated in the field of Microtechnology. His love for photography and optics are definitely visible in Valbray’s first series of timepieces, known as the Oculus V.01 Chrono. The unique feature of the Oculus V.01 Chrono is the diaphragm-like system known as the Obturator-system. This patented system was developed over a two year period, and the final result was presented back in 2010.
16 super thin blades can be operated by turning the bezel 90 degrees back and forth. The blades fully enclose the dial when desired, and give it a very serene look. Want all business? Simply close the blades and hide the dial underneath them. Want all play? A simple twist of the bezel reveals the very stylized chronograph-dial. When fully opened, the blades open with a maximum aperture of 30mm. All the blades fit snugly underneath the bezel and are entirely hidden from view when opened. Upon closing, they slide in place in an almost graceful circular pattern.
This business versus play attitude is even more applicable to the latest of the V.01 iterations, dubbed “The Devil Inside”. Released past November, it captures the essence of Lucifer himself. A limited series of 6 numbered pieces will be produced. The watch is very intricately built around the provoking thematic. It is almost like the Prince of Darkness himself forged this watch, using resources found in the depths of his realms.
The blackened, DLC-coated grade 5 titanium case gives this watch a nice sinister look, accompanied with fiery rose-gold crown and pushers and lava-red detailing on the dial and strap. Valbray has also managed to trap a number of she-devils into this demonic timepiece. On the dial three of these females are strategically placed to point out some of the details. The tail of the first helps read the wheel-like disc used for the seconds of the chronograph, the second “henchmen” aims here trident towards the name of the watch and the third seems to grab the brand name while gracefully resting on the date window. The shadow of a damsel, holding another trident, can be found on the see-through caseback.
The dial itself holds more keys to the theme then you might see first hand. The devils favorite number is incorporated with the emblematic “V” of Valbray, which is found on every V.01 thus far. Two of the dials used for the chronograph-function use a meticulously crafted flame as a hand. The seconds hand for the time indication is yet again a trident, in lava-red. This is accompanied by open-worked, blacked-out minute and hour hands. When the Obturator-system (the 16 blades) is closed, this trident-shaped hand is the only indication of what may lie beneath since only the minute, hour and second hand are visible.
The mat-black alligator strap is finished with lava-red stitching and the devils tail on the inside lining. A patented deployment buckle, adorned with a red gold cover, completes the watch. Inside beats an in-house movement, containing 25 jewels an packing 44 hours of power. It operates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations, and features a specially redesigned rotor. It is water resistant to 5 ATM but this is once again a watch that few people (no more then 6 obviously) will ever bring close to water in the first place. It might put out the blaze inside this creation!
Valbray has gone to great lengths to fully incorporate the theme of “The Devil Inside” and succeeded in doing so. The metaphor that there is a devil inside each and every one of us, but almost none of us let him out, really befits the watch. Reveling nothing at all, or everything at once is a decision made by simply turning the bezel 90 degrees.
The watch is available at a price of 24,666 CHF. Now isn’t that a coincidence?
This article is written by Robin Nooij, contributing writer for Monochrome Watches.