At Baselworld 2011, I had a chance to learn about a very interesting young Swiss start-up watch brand, Valbray. Founded by Côme de Valbray and Olga Corsini, the first Valbray timepieces were introduced at GTE 2010/Baselworld 2010. The Valbray V.01 is a double-display timepiece, with a diaphragm mechanism fitted on a rotating bezel. This innovation allows the wearer, by manually rotating the bezel, to easily switch between a basic 3-hand watch and a more complicated chronograph.
The main feature is the “rotator,” which is a 16-blade (diaphragm) that opens and closes on the dial by turning the bezel clockwise or counter-clock wise. The “rotator” uses ceramic ball bearings that do not require lubrication and with arms that allow radial shock absorption.
Every detail of this watch has been carefully thought out. The hands, for example, have been fully machined in one block that allows beautiful facets. The hands alone, are the result of more than 20 manufacturing operations. They are cast in one piece, sculpted and openwork, these unique hands are faceted, brushed and angled.
The ovoid shaped case is 45 mm in diameter and is available in either titanium, red gold or stainless steel. The dials are multi-layered, fully hand bevelled and finished. (The 2011 models have a multi-layer dial based on a honey comb grid.) The sapphire crystal is flat, with double anti-reflective treatment. The clear sapphire caseback has a single sided anti-reflective treatment.
Powering the Valbray V.01 is a self-winding Valjoux 7750, 25-jewel chronograph movement that runs at 28,800 vph (4Hz). A re-designed tri-material, skeletonized rotor winds in one direction on ceramic ball bearings. Power reserve is 44 hours.
The straps are matte black alligator, hand made with a thin deployant buckle. Water-resistance is 50 meters (166 ft). All variations are limited to 250 or 500 numbered pieces.
I’m not sure that I would call the rotating dial “revolutionary” but it is definitely unique and useful. It clearly has added value and appeal beyond what most brands offer with their Valjoux 7750 powered timepieces.
Retail prices range from $14,400-$26,700.