VIDEO: The Le Jour Le Mans Chronograph collection is hotwired with 1960s racing vibesFergus Nash
Having distributed watches for Yema and Heuer in the 1970s alongside producing their own spectacular chronographs, it’s surprising that Le Jour have so far focused on other styles such as their SeaColt and Coral divers. Now, the time has come for them to embrace their true heritage and release the Le Jour Le Mans — a clear homage to the racing chronographs of the 1960s hitting all the best aspects of price, variety and specs.
The Le Jour Le Mans is all about the details, and there isn’t much about this watch that suggests it’s not a vintage piece other than its cleanliness and slight size increase. The case is a full 42mm, with a 51mm lug-to-lug length that will most likely exclude those whose wrists are on the smaller side. The lugs do have an extreme downward point and the bracelet has a flexible first link, so it will definitely be comfortable on a more average wrist. Given that it takes on both the style and function of a 1970s automatic chronograph, the case height of 17mm shouldn’t be too much of a shock considering the prominence of the bezel and the domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
The shape of the lugs is very much of its era, with an all-brushed finish punctuated by the sliver of the chamfered edges that give a sort of classy outline to the case. The bezel is etched with a standard tachymeter and is made of steel. It’s then given a robust IP coating in a variety of different colours depending on the reference, including black, silver, green, gold and brown. The crown and pushers can be screwed down for extra security underwater, as the Le Jour Le Mans is actually resistant all the way down to 200m. The solid caseback is quite impressive too, featuring a vivid engraving of a Le Mans race car surrounded by a chequered flag motif.
Although the Le Jour Le Mans has plenty of its own character, there are clear nods running through it that riff off the Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona. The most obvious of these has to be the design of the markers on the subdials, with the squared-off lollipop look giving a good amount of vintage quirk on all but one of the dial variations. The triple-register layout featuring a day and date complication is extremely reminiscent of the 1970s thanks to the widespread use of the Valjoux 7750 movement, however we’ll come back to that later.
Although we only got our hands on a few of these watches, there are a total of eight dial and bezel combinations to choose from that vary wildly between vintage cool and modern sleek. The Le Jour Le Mans “001” takes on the classic “Newman” style off-white and black panda, while the “006” heads straight into a simple white on black scheme. Next we have a frankly wild combination of a bright sunburst blue dial with brown subdials and bezel, which is oddly alluring. There’s a crisp un-aged white dial, followed by the two gilt models with either grey or black dials. The version with green details over a sunburst grey dial is incredibly attractive, and the final grey dial comes across as slightly space-age with its grey and black tones.
The Le Jour Le Mans uses a Sellita SW500, which should come as no surprise given the history of both the brand and this movement. The SW500 is essentially a clone of the Valjoux 7750 produced by ETA, which powered nearly every automatic Swiss chronograph before in-house manufacturing became as desirable. This cam-actuated calibre runs at a beat rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. It’s proven itself over multiple decades to be a reliable performer, and the abundance of spare parts makes servicing generally quite quick and inexpensive.
Most of the Le Jour Le Mans models come on a fairly standard albeit well-made Oyster-style bracelet, with thick solid links and a firm clasp with six holes for micro-adjustment. It’s entirely brushed, giving the watch a rugged look while remaining comfortable on the wrist. However, the reverse panda, white panda, and the gold/grey references come with a rather luxurious Jubilee-style bracelet. The lug width is 22mm, so you also have plenty of options should you wish to experiment with leather or NATO straps.
The Le Jour Le Mans Chronograph Collection pricing and availability:
The Le Jour Le Mans Chronograph is available from their online store here. Price: $1,380 USD