CoLAB Heritage Chronograph

Step 1: Choosing inspiration and movement

CoLAB Heritage Chronograph

Hello, watch aficionado. We see you, scouring the internet for your regular watch fix. We see your dedication, your love and admiration for these beautifully carved wonders of mechanical accuracy. We see your passion.
Imagine just how wonderful it would be if you could help design your own watch. Maybe you’ve been daydreaming about this for years. Maybe you’ve even been silently sketching your own dials and bezels on your notepad at work. Here’s your chance to change the world of watches. To add real value and make your mark in the long-standing history of Lebois & Co.

We invite you to have your say, and take a deep dive into our collaborative designer platform called CoLAB.

Heritage Chronograph: Our Heritage, Your Creativity

Our first project is Lebois & Co’s Heritage Chronograph; the long awaited and much requested re-issue of our 1940s chronographs.

You can help us carve out a unique character in four phases; design, technical development, prototyping and final production. In all of these phases, you will have ample opportunity to comment and vote. In the most comprehensive phase, the design, you can help decide on the choice of movement, case and dial designs, and of course, your favourite bracelets and straps.

Steps in this Project:
Step 1 – April 22, 2021: Choosing inspiration and movement
Step 2 – July 5, 2021: Cases and dials
Step 3 – December 6, 2021: Results in 3D and technical details
Step 4 – October 7, 2022: Prototype evaluation

Heritage Chronograph

The revival of an iconic watch

Chronographs are an important aspect in the history of Lebois & Co. Since the revival of Lebois in 2014 we have found and collected several interesting timepieces that function as an inspiration for the new Heritage Chronograph models that Lebois & Co plans to release.

The last remarkable find was a ‘Big Eyes’ Chronograph in mint condition that we were able to acquire from a US based collector. The dial was sharp and barely showed any patina. The movement, a Valjoux 22, was working flawlessly and smoothly.

We are excited to start the journey of our third watch model; the long awaited and much requested re-issue of our vintage chronograph. It is only logical, therefore, that we want to develop such an important watch together with our community of fans and watch enthusiasts.


How an auctioned chronograph led to the revival of Lebois & Co

Lebois & Co’s beautiful chronographs lead to its return in 2014. At that time, Tom and his wife Eveline came across a chronograph auctioned by Christie’s on 14 May 2012, which they found very special. So special even, that they printed the watch and stuck it on their fridge. Tom started his research on this forgotten brand and contacted the original founders. The rest is history

It didn’t stop there. In the meantime, a lot of information about chronographs reached us. Different versions and variations, but their interesting stories too. Like the one of the Swedish Air Force pilots who were given Lebois & Co chronograph watches when they came to Italy to collect and fly home their new Caproni Ca 313 reconnaissance bombers (see vlog episode #3).

There are also many individual stories such as the one of Mr. De Zanguitu. He inherited his uncle’s gold Lebois & Co chronograph, which was originally given to the uncle by his brother (Mr. De Zanguitu’s father) as a birthday present when they were on a skiing trip in Switzerland. In 2019, our company had the honour of coordinating the restoration of this watch (no. 9 in the voting contest). With success; at the end of 2020, the beautifully restored watch was returned to its happy owner.

Interesting fact: in the past, not only ‘Lebois & Co’ was printed on the dials. We’ve seen versions where ‘Lebois & Cie’ (the French name) and simply ‘Lebois’ were used as well. As far as we are concerned, this provides enough inspiration to decorate the dial. Do you have a preference? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Image: © Christie’s

Cast your vote, choosing the right inspiration

Help us choose from the vintage archives

Over time, quite a few different variants and models have been released. Since we cannot reissue all of them, we need your help in choosing the ones that deserve to be brought back to life.

Are you ready? Great! Take a look at the 9 beautiful vintage Lebois & Co chronographs we pre-selected. Then, vote up to 3 watches you like best. Feel free to use the comment section at the bottom of this page to explain your choice.

Vote up to 3 watches you like best

Images provided by: Christie’s (5), @lorologiese (3), @bench.03 (6), @andreasalgau (7), @privateeyes_co (2), @notaroaugelli1 (1)

Cast your vote, which movement fits best?

Choosing the engine for the Heritage Chronograph

In this first step, a very important choice must be made right away; the type of movement. There are two solid options; the first (named LC-250) is a cam-actuated chronograph movement based (with improvements) on the ETA 7750 architecture, like Sellita’s SW 510. This movement is produced in larger numbers and used by multiple other brands. Option two (named LC-450) is a column wheel chronograph (just as the Valjoux 22 and 72 movements used in the original Lebois & Co chronographs) developed and made by Manufacture La Joux-Perret (LJP7773). Our sister brand, Airain, uses a similar movement in the new Type 20 Re-Edition.

The column wheel makes the second option more historically accurate, which is a plus for us. Also, a column wheel movement, which is comparable to a castle’s turret, is more exclusive. Where the cam consists of two layers of metal, the column wheel is a single piece, and very difficult to manufacture because of it. Since it takes more skill and patience to be made, it can normally only be found in high-end timepieces. In addition, it is generally agreed that a column wheel chronograph feels more precise when operated.

All of this results in a column wheel movement being more expensive than a cam-actuated movement. So, what’s your opinion? Vote for the movement of your choice below.

Project Timeline

Like other attentive fans, you may have noticed that we’ve had to adjust the original timeline several times. We see you. During this particular CoLAB, we’ve encountered multiple setbacks, ranging from production problems to worldwide staff shortages. While these are beyond our influence, we would’ve liked the Heritage Chronographs to be in our and your hands by now.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope (and think!) the quality of the end result will make up for some of the lost time.

22 April 2021 Step 1: Project launch and choosing inspiration + movement
5 July 2021 Step 2: Cases and dials
6 December 2021 Step 3: Presenting the results in 3D and technical details
14 December 2021 Pre-order Round 1 (pre-prototype)
7 October 2022 Step 4: Prototype evaluation
14 October 2022 Launch of Pre-order Round 2
October 2022 Start of final production
16 December 2022 First movement batch finished
22 February 2023 Start delivery first batch (mainly from Pre-order Round 1)
September 2023 Next round of movements ready
October 2023 – January 2024 Delivery next batch (mainly from Pre-order Round 2)

The above timeline is an estimate and can be adjusted if necessary.

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