When we first heard about the project that Philippe Cros, Jorg Hysek Jr. and Lionel Ladoire were working on, we knew something really special would be coming out of it. One of our favorite watches from Baselworld 2018 and a watch that knocked our socks off is the new L&JR Chronograph S1503 from the just launched Montres L&JR brand. This new Swiss watch brand brings a whole new approach to the watch industry gleamed from the expertise of its three founders. The new L&JR Chronograph S1503 is a watch that exudes Independent 'Haute Horlogerie' from every angle you look at it, but with a price tag far from what its looks, craftsmanship and perceived value convey.
This is the type of watch that if you walk into a room full of watch connoisseurs that don't know anything about the watch or the brand, and you ask them to guess its price tag solely on the design, look and feel of the watch, they consensus will be that the price is anywhere between $10K and $20K USD.
About the Founders
Philippe Cros started his watchmaking career in 2002 at Vacheron Constantin, then moved to Piaget in 2007 and in 2009 started running Technomarine in Asia. Meanwhile, Jörg Hysek Jr. —son of renowned watch designer Jörg Hysek, the man behind the Vacheron Constantin 222— began his career at Chopard to later join his father's brand Hysek, then moving onto HD3, Slyde Watch, MCT Watches, EVO Luxury and most recently becoming the International Sales Director for De Bethune. Lastly, Lionel Ladoire began his career in high jewellery in 1989 to later launch Helvet Manufacture in 2006, a firm dedicated to conceptualize luxury watches and then in 2007 he launched his own watch micro-brand ‘Ladoire’.
The Watch Case
Fitted with a round 45 mm stainless steel case that combines satin brushed and highly polished areas, the overall case design and look of the new Montres L&JR Chronograph S1503 is an interesting unintentional blend of different design cues from some of the top independent 'haute horlogerie' brands. In general, the case design is really flawless and includes angled asymmetrical skeletonized lugs, a reeded edge right below the bezel, a crown with black rubber o-ring and very stylized chrono pushers with bead blasted centers.
If one where to try to name the independent brands that come to mind —in a very respectful way— when looking at the new Montres L&JR Chronograph S1503, we could easily come up with a long list that includes names like De Bethune, Konstantin Ckaykin, MB&F, MCT Watches, Manufacture Royale and even maybe Louis Moinet. The generous and robust case with its domed sapphire crystal is elegantly designed with a subtle, modern twist that offers uncompromised view of the the multi-layer architecture dial that is impeccably crafted and finished on three different levels.
In what happens to be a very well balanced layout, the satin brushed finished dial presents a lot of depth hard to perceive in pictures. With three different levels onto which the different time and calendar indications were placed, the dial offers an interesting play of black, white and silver details that intertwine in a remarkable way. With highly polished rings surrounding the chronograph registers, light is reflected in a beautiful manner.
Featuring a fuel gauge-type retrograde day of the week at 12 o'clock, a 30-minute chrono register at 9 o'clock, a 1/10th of a second chrono register at 3 and a double disc date aperture with running seconds indicator at 6 o'clock, the dial is extremely eye-catching and easy to read. A brushed silver minute track on the perimeter of the dial rounds out the black and white look of the new Montres L&JR Chronograph S1503.
The Montres L&JR Chronograph S1503 is delivered on a black rubber strap with calf leather inlay and equipped with a satin brushed finished buckle with highly polished pin. The strap is extremely comfortable and very well made.
The Case Back & Movement
To everyone's surprise, the watch is not powered by a mechanical movement but by a Swiss Ronda Quartz movement with a battery life of approximately four years. Had this watch been powered by a mechanical movement, the price tag would've been much higher. Despite our preference of mechanical movements over quartz ones, the new Montres L&JR Chronograph S1503 is still a stunning timepiece with a much higher perceived value. Protecting the movement there's a screwed-in solid case back with L&JR engraving and the watch is water resistant to 50 meters. The overall feel of the watch is very nice and solid with a total weight of 147 grams.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the L&JR Chronograph S1503 wears slightly bigger than its actual size and more like a 46 mm watch. With unparalleled wrist presence, unique design and a very "independent haute horlogerie" look, the new L&JR watch is nothing but a great deal. Without any marketing gimmicks or cheap sale tactics like those utilized by other watch micro-brands, the new L&JR Chronograph S1503 is lining up to be the next big thing when it comes to watches under $2K USD. The watch is available in limited quantities with three different versions for the chronograph model and three versions for the Day-Date model.
If someone like Laurent Picciotto —owner of Chronopassion— has already decided to add L&JR to the select group of brands carried at his boutique in Paris, then, that means that this new brand is off to a great start. Kudos to the founders and best of luck on your new brand. The only thing we can hope for is to see some mechanical movements powering the L&JR watches in the near future.
Sticker Price CHF 1,380 Swiss Francs —approximately $1,500 USD. For more info on L&JR click here.