JULIEN COUDRAY 1518 WATCHES

Julien Coudray 1518 is a Le Locle based Swiss luxury watch brand founded by Fabien Lamarche. The brand is named after Julien Coudray, the legendary clock maker who lived during the Renaissance Era.

By opting to bring together all the watchmaking trades under one roof, the Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture is able to offer a new concept of Haute Horlogerie. Inspired by the Renaissance, when the clockmaker Julien Coudray invented the first portable watch, every watch – made either from gold or platinum – undergoes the complete design and manufacturing process in-house, starting with the components of its movement. This challenge calls for the mastery and experience of a team of experts, coordinated by Fabien Lamarche. Together they all put their passion for a challenge at the service of the firm, the better to share their passion with enthusiasts and collectors.

Founding a business takes a man and a vision. In creating the Julien Coudray 1518 Watchmaking Manufacture, Fabien Lamarche is no exception to the rule. Based on the twenty-five years he spent designing, developing and making watch prototypes for prestigious watchmaking brands, and working with one of the biggest independent watchmakers, this man forged his own philosophy: of surpassing himself. For him, a watch is a mechanical work of art, a piece made under the expert guidance of a team of passionate devotees, each of whom in their own field must try to push back the boundaries of the possible. A real driving force of the manufacture, this approach means that every watch is fully produced in-house, from the movement components to the dial and case. Julien Coudray 1518 watches are aesthetically pleasing and distinctive, reliable and precise, daring and enduring; thus they represent a move away from a world where sub-contracting, productivity and standardisation have often overtaken the original product.

The team alone is the essential factor for mastering manufacture: hence the necessity to bring in the best. Starting from 2007, and over the best part of the next 5 years, Fabien Lamarche would put together an expert, autonomous team: the forty watchmakers, genuine master craftsmen of time, now make every Julien Coudray 1518 watch, from design to assembly, as well as decoration. True to the philosophy of the firm, they also question the limits of their trades by setting themselves ever more ambitious goals, and take the time to achieve them, without ever giving up. This decision to rely on “teamwork” and this passion for a challenge are not driven simply by the quest for quality, but also by the Manufacture’s desire to perpetuate its know-how, by encouraging internal transfer of this know-how from the outset. Keeping to this fundamental principle is made easier by the Manufacture’s location in Le Locle, at the heart of the historic region of Swiss watchmaking, which undoubtedly packs in more micro-mechanics expertise than anywhere else in the world.

The choice of name is the assertion of a philosophy. By adopting the name “Julien Coudray 1518”, the Manufacture deliberately alludes to the Renaissance, a time when ways of thinking, acting and creating were transformed. A new school of scientific thought was developing, while art was fuelled by investigation and curiosity: artists and scholars wanted both to understand nature and describe its riches.

Francis 1st, a cultured monarch and Prince of the Renaissance, out of his concern to extend the influence of the Court, sponsored many artists, the most famous of whom was Leonardo da Vinci. To the same end, he invited to his Château at Blois the clockmaker Julien Coudray.

In 1518, he transformed the clock into the form of a portable watch: at the behest of the King, he succeeded in inserting spring movements into the handles of two royal daggers. The portable watch was born.

Working at the service of passionate enthusiasts: like Julien Coudray, who worked for the most iconic enthusiast of the time, the Julien Coudray 1518 Watchmaking Manufacture set out to establish special ties with a circle of enthusiasts that share the same passion. A field of discoveries and innovations, watchmaking of the 21st Century is a world of adventure home to those who make the watches and those who wear them, and those constantly developing watchmaking techniques, not to mention those posing them new challenges. This distinctive concept of a manufacture calls for craftsmen who can listen, advise and create for the collectors and enthusiasts, putting themselves at their service. To this end, and insofar as everything is done in-house and therefore fully controlled, every Julien Coudray watch can be personalised, while still being entitled to rapid and high-quality After-Sales service.

There is nothing to rival precious metals for standing the test of time. Doubtless because watchmakers, more than anyone else, have a firm grasp of the passage of time and a love of precision, the Manufacture has chosen to work only with materials that will survive the centuries, and whose durability will maintain the precision of the watch. Whether for visible or invisible parts, solid gold and platinum, plus traditional grand feu enamelling, are the only materials adopted for making the movement, case and dial of watches, which therefore become inalterable. Similarly, there is no chemical coating or plating involved at any stage in the manufacturing process. True to this desire to leave an enduring mark, the Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture makes and sets aside for every watch produced the spare parts that might prove necessary, even in the distant future.

Combining science and art, technology and aesthetics: this is the principle on which the Manufacture designs and makes every single watch. Here everything starts with the movement. Since it opted to manufacture each of the main components from a solid precious metal, the Manufacture designed and manufactured new tools and taken on the entire watchmaking process, starting with the design of the movement components worked to a microscopic level of precision. So in a Julien Coudray 1518 calibre, the arm wheel arches are no longer square: Fabien Lamarche redesigned them as a curve, an exclusive shape better suited to the qualities of endurance that they must exhibit. Similarly, the winding stem fastening system – the subject of one of the ten patents filed by the Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture – was completely redesigned to prevent the risk of damaging the movement in the final steps of its production.

In the field of decoration, the patterns are inspired by the Renaissance style and the elaborate works of architecture and the decorative arts, with in-depth research a vital part of the manufacturing process. The enamel indexes of the Manufactura 1528 watch underwent a battery of tests – including the development of specific techniques – so that the eye beholds an immaculate surface, slightly domed and perfectly polished. Along the same lines, the plique-à-jour enamelled dial of the Competentia 1515 watch was the subject of a host of investigations, to produce a genuine stained-glass window offering a glimpse of the decorations on the movement components.

The first Julien Coudray 1518 models
Each model was produced in a strictly limited series; including some personalized unique pieces. It bore a name preceded by a date, the last two digits of which represented the number of pieces produced for each version: yellow gold, red gold, white gold and platinum. It was delivered in a leather case, accompanied by two documents, a “Background book” and a “Book of origin”, plus a travel case and a cleaning cloth.

Fabien Lamarche, Watchmaking Mechanical Engineer
Passionately interested in watchmaking, micromechanical engineering, robotics and information technology, as well as a keen restorer of antique clocks and watches, Fabien Lamarche has in the course of his twenty-year career to date occupied virtually all jobs relating to watch development and production within various companies. He began with Breguet as a Process Manager, before moving on to Roger Dubuis as Product Director, to L. Leroy where he worked on developing modules and automatons – and on to Zenith where he served in two capacities: as Methods and Industrial Director and as Head of the Mechanical and Prototype Department.

And then came the time for Julien Coudray 1518. For many years, Fabien Lamarche had been dreaming of creating an integrated Manufacture withthe aim of making complicated calibres. Like Julien Coudray, horologer to King Francis I, he aims to combine art, science and technology in order to create truly exceptional products, and to transpose the Renaissance to the 21stcentury by creating from scratch a truly unique Manufacture. To achieve this, he is putting in place a self-sufficient setof talents capable of responding to any demands, and in particular to requests for personalisation.

Whatever the company or the function exercised, Fabien Lamarche has gradually built up in-depth experience and a comprehensive grasp of the various watchmaking professions. He is the guarantor of the development of the Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture de grande horlogerie.

Paying tribute to the heritage of an exceptional personality who lived 500 years ago by launching the brand bearing his name, Fabien Lamarche has firmly chosen to position Julien Coudray 1518 at the peak of fine watchmaking and perpetuating the tradition of the first watchmakers through his independence. The latter is indeed evinced in terms of both design and production, thanks to an integrated “Manufacture”.

The brand signature – Manufacture de grande horlogerie– reflects a three-fold ambition. The first is to revive the grand horological tradition while subtly conveying a “royal” touch entirely in tune withthe history and the roots of the name Julien Coudray. The second is to create a surprise effect by invoking differentiating brand values. The third is to draw present and future clients into a dimension beyond techniques or reason: that of emotions – because the term “grand” evokes fine craftsmanship, a rare spirit, a different way of envisaging horology.

The Julien Coudray 1518 values and all its constituent elements – in terms of both form and substance – are based on contemporary yet timeless values of authenticity, rarity, intimacy and knowledge. These are values closely interweaving the rational aspect of the range with a more emotional dimension, and which are liable to appeal to a selective clientele seeking exclusivity above and beyond purely technical aspects. This is because Julien Coudray 1518 aims to establish and cultivate a genuine trust-based relationship with its customers through a uniquely personal connection as well as through developing personalised creations. All the elements of the brand identity, whether classic or contemporary, contribute to conveying notions such as elegance and tradition, as well as innovation and modernity.

Julien Coudray 1518 & the art of enamelling
The exceptional profession of the enameller calls for calmness, concentration, tenacity and patience, qualities reflecting the sensitive and humble spirit of an artist, constantly in search of new discoveries.

It seems that joining an ancestral crafts like enamelling profession is like joining a religion; with humility and patience, and initially observing; since there are no longer any schools in Switzerland that teach the enamelling profession. In France too, training dedicated to enamelling now no longer specialises in watchmaking. The job is to create watchmaking art, while observing the constraints involved in keeping within near-micron tolerances. In addition to mastering enamel, the craftsman must bow to the demands of the watchmaking profession: finesse, measurement precision, pure whiteness of enamel, and working with binoculars in all the operations.

Creating a “grand feu” enamel watch dial will therefore demand years of observation, learning and experience under master-enamellers specialised in watchmaking. The apparent unruliness of this fascinating material is bit by bit overcome by expertise, with failures becoming setbacks and then success. Under the action of the pestle, the enamel will turn from compact, hard lumps into a fine, soft dust. This initial preparatory stage is carried out by hand, and rounded off by the painstaking washing operation to eliminate any impurities.

The precious powders obtained in this way will then be combined according to the expertise, sensitivity and eye of the enameller. Then comes the application, following techniques used separately or in combination. Under the action of heat, the enamel and metal particles will inter-penetrate through fusion, to produce a third material: this is alchemy at work.

Under the action of the pestle, the enamel will turn from compact, hard lumps into a fine, soft dust. This initial preparatory stage is carried out by hand, and rounded off by the painstaking washing operation to eliminate any impurities.

It is fire, or rather a temperature of nearly 800 °C, which will reward the enameller’s long hours of concentration and hope. The fusion of the enamel will give rise to the transparency, depth and shine of the colours. It is when the brush meets the enamel to produce a dial that every julien Coudray 1518 watch comes to life. The path to this ultimate destination is a school of patience which requires exceptional skills and perseverance.

Enamelling is not an exact science, and the vagaries in producing each individual piece are many. The enameller tirelessly reworks their creations until they obtain the desired result. This makes every piece unique. Arising from the sensitivity of people united in the same passion, julien Coudray 1518 pieces thereby perpetuate these uncommon and authentic forms of know-how, and ensure their ambassadors a place in the heritage of the future.

Doubtless because watchmakers, more than anyone else, have a firm grasp of the passage of time and a love of precision, the manufacture has chosen to work only with materials that will survive the centuries, and whose durability will maintain the precision of the watch.

Whether for visible or invisible parts, solid gold and platinum, plus traditional grand feu enamelling, are the only materials adopted for making the movement, case and dial of watches, which therefore become inalterable. Similarly, there is no chemical coating or plating involved at any stage in the manufacturing process.

“Cloisonné”, where the spaces to be enamelled are demarcated by gold or silver wires hand-shaped to the curves of the design pattern to be produced.

• The “Champlevé” technique is an artful combination of the skills of engraving and enamelling. The engraver’s chisel will turn the dial base into a bas-relief. The enameller will then cover this sculpture with translucent enamel. Translucent enamels will give the dial guilloche work a variable depth, according to its relief.

• In the delicate “grisaille” technique, the enameller works into the enamel fine gold or silver patterns, using either a hand chisel or punch.Originating from Limoges, the grisaille technique consists of depositing a white limoges enamel onto a pre-prepared dark coloured enamel background. This white is drawn by a needle to obtain a camaieu effect of white to grey.

• The “plique-à-jour” technique, dating from theLate Middle Ages, is a technique which consists in depositing translucent enamel into the cells of a specially produced framework.

• The exceptional “miniature” technique, reserved for the most skilled enamellers, is a subtle blend between miniature painting and enamelling. Whether applied by individual spots or painting, each particle will find its place in the design pattern, coming together in exquisite harmony, which is given a timeless unalterable quality by firing.

By opting to bring together all the watchmaking trades under one roof, the Julien Coudray 1518 Manufacture is able to offer a new concept of Haute Horlogerie. Inspired by the Renaissance, when the clockmaker Julien Coudray invented the first portable watch, every watch – made either from gold or platinum – undergoes the complete design and manufacturing process in-house, starting with the components of its movement. This challenge calls for the mastery and experience of a team of experts, coordinated by Fabien Lamarche. Together they all put their passion for a challenge at the service of the firm, the better to share their passion with enthusiasts and collectors.

Contact details
Julien Coudray 1518 SA
rue de la Jaluse 6 -2400
Le Locle
Switzerland
Official website: http://www.juliencoudray1518.ch/en

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