Lebois & Co Heritage Chronograph – Powered By The PeopleBy Ross Povey
The Lebois & Co story is one founded in a couple’s passion for vintage watches and powered by the passion of the watch collecting community. Through the brand’s CoLAB initiative, the latest offering – the Heritage Chronograph – has been designed and spec’d by what Lebois & Co re-founder Tom van Wijlick refers to as “CoLABers”. Step three of the process is now complete and the 3D renderings, technical specs and prices are now live on the website. This community-based watch development is at the core of the brands recent history and is producing some very interesting watches…
Lebois & Co was originally established in 1934 by Raymond Dodane, of the well-known French watchmaking family. The mission of the brand was to offer affordable yet stylishly executed Swiss-made timepieces. The brand found favour with the Italian market, an example being when the Italian aircraft manufacturer Caproni bought a number of Lebois & Co chronographs to gift to Swedish Air Force pilots who came to collect their new planes during World War 2. Ownership of the brand eventually passed on to the Italian importers of the brand who continued to use Dodane as the manufacturers. The company officially folded in 1972 until man and wife team Tom and Eveline van Wijlick discovered a photo of a beautiful old Lebois & Co watch and made it their mission to rekindle the brand as a 21st century watchmaker.
The van Wijlick’s company CDMLEC own both Lebois & Co and Airan (a recent participant on our Pink Dial Project) where currently cool, 1940s-esque steel chronographs seem to be the order of the day. The first two offerings from Lebois & Co were not actually chronos, but modern reinterpretations of classic dress watches. The first three series of the Avantgarde Date were funded through Kickstarter and the second offering, the Venturist, was funded following a share offering to the collector community. The most recent model, the Heritage Chronograph, has been developed through a new CoLAB platform. This new initiative affords enthusiasts the opportunity to have high-quality input into the design and development of watches from both Lebois & Co and Airan.
The third watch from the new Lebois & Co is the much requested and talked about chronograph. As per the CoLAB formula, there are incremental ‘steps’ the watches journey from idea to final delivery of finished pieces. The first ‘Step 1’ involves choosing the styling and over-arching aesthetic of the watch as well as the movement. ‘Step 2’ inloves the design of the case and dial and then the community votes on their favourite iteration to take forward to prototyping and production. The current stage, ‘Step 3’ that was launched last week, is the first 3D drawings of the watches, the technical specifications and the pricing – all of which are on the website now.
With voting complete, the finale pieces are available in four different dial executions across two different case styles. Early on in the CoLAB, the community voted on a movement, the resounding winner of which was a good quality column-wheel. The Caliber LC-450 is a hand-wound column wheel movement, with an impressive 60-hour power reserve that has been developed and made by Manufacture La Joux-Perret S.A. in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
The two case options are either a step case or bevel case with both having either salmon or silver dials. 1940s-inspired chronos are hot business at the minute and these watches won’t disappoint. The step case options are a salmon dial with tachymeter and telemeter scales or a silver dial with multi-coloured multi-scales of telemeter and tachymeter. If you opt for the bevel case style, your choices are either a very cool silver sector dial with blue tachymeter scale or salmon with a pulsation scale. The watches come on leather side-stitch straps with a vintage inspired buckle.
Keeping the collaborative and client-focus at the forefront of the project, van Wijlick is creating a digital certificate. He says, “Each watch will come with a with digital certificate that is blockchain-based and will be created upfront. Customers will receive their pre-ordered watch, including allocated serial number, in the form of a “digital twin” and through this digital twin they will be able to follow production of their physical watch.”
Pre-ordering opens at 10am on 14th December and more information can be found at www.leboisandco.com