Guest Post: Valbray EL1 Review by Alberto Lorenzato
It’s a pleasure being chosen to write an article for the audience of watchanish. Considering that this is my first experience I would like to introduce my character in a few lines before starting with the horology part. My name is Alberto A. Lorenzato (@albylorenz on instagram), I am a 17 years old watch enthusiast from Italy and the most important thing to share with you is that since I was a baby I have always been “playing” with watches. My first ever luxury watch was a gift from my father: an omega seamaster aquaterra, a great timekeeper that will last you forever and be a perfect everyday watch, especially for beginner collectors. This was probably the watch that captured my full attention in the horology world. But it’s actually my enthusiasm and my devotion to watches that led me to write an article for Watch-Anish.
Now let’s get to today’s topic regarding the uniqueness of the Valbray watches. The story of this brand dates back to 2009 when two ravenous people, an engineer, Côme de Valbray and an Italian designer, Olga Corsini, came across. The reason why it’s a unique brand is first of all related to the diaphragm system that makes their watches stand out of the many similar pieces in their price range. The bezel and its ‘Oculus’ system reminds us of a camera diaphragm, it is made up of 16 ultrathin blades, incorporated into a rotating bezel and housed into a 46 mm diameter round case for the chronographs and 43mm for the date models. This system can be activated by simply rotating the bezel manually, turning the watch into an appealing machine and letting the owner interact with it.
Valbray’s fine taste for photography, which inspired the shutter mechanism that gave life to the concept, has also resulted in the recent collaboration, on the occasion of the 100 year anniversary of Leica, a brand many consider the as the ultimate luxury camera manufacturer. The collaboration between Leica and Valbray brings two premium brands that share the passion for outmost mechanical perfection of individually handcrafted products together.
It was Leica who approached Valbray for the construction of a watch, which has an engraving to celebrate the 100 years of Leica photography on the back.The partnership gave birth to an exclusive timepiece, the EL1 Chrono. And if Leica is a fashion statement among the state of the art cameras the same can be said for Valbray. Both are manufactured and made with a certain idea behind them, giving you something that will last long time and give a certain feeling when you see the dial of the Valbray or when you use a Leica camera to snap photos.
For all those who are more into the traditional timekeepers, think of it as of a cool watch for fun and like it for the originality of the concept. No one will tell you it’s the most complicated and perfected timepiece, but the idea behind it was completely different. The EL1 is of course equipped with the unique shutter system and is made of titanium grade 5 with sanded finishes. Underneath the rotating blades sits the sleek design of the dial. This is characterized by the metallic honeycomb supporting the valbray “V” motif and the three unusual rings of the chronograph. These disks remind me of the setting dials on the top of Leica’s rangefinders. You will also make out the metallic “4.5” hour marker is the only one commenced in the dial – this definitely has to be the tribute to the very first Leica camera which had a fixed aperture of ƒ/4.5
On the back of the watch, the automatic Valjoux movement with an open worked rotor and a 44 hour power reserve is visible through a sapphire crystal glass, stained grey to summon the black room. The chronograph comes in two references, 50 titanium and 50 with a black DLC treatment, all the 100 piece are equipped with two different straps, resembling the camera bands: one black in calf negonda leather and the other in calfskin mat brown and raw stitching. They are easily exchangeable with a specific screwdriver provided with the watch.
Both titanium and black DLC watches are priced at 17,999 Euro and are already available to buy through Leica boutiques as well as through one of the biggest Valbray retailer ‘Chronopassion’ so for your next trip to Paris, stop by to try it.