L. Leroy & Cie – Leroy 01 & Other Important Historical Watches

Heir to an impressive historical legacy, the House of Leroy has written some of the finest chapters in the history of watchmaking and of French chronometry. Founded in Paris in 1785 amid the tumultuous Age of Enlightenment and under the impetus of Charles Leroy, himself the son of a watchmaker, the House has thus been developing a wealth of technical and inventive treasures for over two centuries.

LEROY 01: One of the Most Complicated Mechanical Pocket Watches in the World
Among the important timepieces created by the legendary horology dynasty, the Leroy 1 was the most complicated watch in the world until 1989 when the famous Geneva manufacturer, Patek Philippe introduced its “Calibre 89”.

The “Leroy 01”, a true global icon and winner of the Grand Prix at the Paris Universal Exhibition, was presented to the jury by Louis Leroy in 1900. It remained the absolute standard for highly complicated watchmaking until 1989 when the famous Geneva manufacturer, Patek Philippe introduced its “Calibre 89”. For nine decades this watch was the symbol of the company’s technical expertise. But, more than that, it demonstrated the wealth of craftsmanship that existed at the start of the 20th century in the Besançon area and the nearby Jura region of Switzerland.

Its movement containing 975 parts was conceived and developed with the expertise of a famous watchmaker from Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux, Charles Piguet, who produced the “ébauche”. This was completed, decorated, assembled and adjusted in the L.Leroy workshops located in the magnificent Square St. Amour in Besançon. The Leroy 01 (called “La Lucie” in Besançon) is at the heart of the collection in the city’s Museum of Time within the beautiful Palais Granvelle.

Complications
1 – Day of the week
2 – Date of the month
3 – Months of the year corrected for leap years
4 – Leap year indicator
5 – Indication of the year for 100 years
6 – Phase of the moon, indicating its age
7 – Indication of seasons, solstices and equinoxes
8 – Equation of time (difference between mean time and solar time)
9 – Chronograph to 1/5th sec, with fly-back
10 – Minute counter with fly-back
11 – Hour counter with fly-back
12 – Power reserve (state of winding indication)
13 – Full and quarter striking with silent option
14 – Repeating hours, quarters and minutes with 3 gongs
15 – Northern hemisphere sky map on the calendar date (Paris sky, 236 stars; Lisbon sky, 560 stars)
16 – Southern hemisphere sky map (Rio de Janeiro, 611 stars)
17 – Local time in 125 cities around the world
18 – Sunrise time in Lisbon
19 – Sunset time in Lisbon
20 – Bi metallic centigrade thermometer
21 – Hair-tension hygrometer
22 – Barometer
23 – Altimeter up to 5000 metres
24 – Corrector system enabling adjustment of the watch from the exterior
25 – A compass concealed in the crown
26 – 12 signs of the zodiac, on the case

The history of the famous Leroy 01 began in 1867 when the company arrived at an exhibition with an extraordinary timepiece that incorporated 9 complications. This unique watch so impressed the exclusive circle of international collectors that Count Nicolas Nostitz of Moscow commissioned the Paris workshops to produce an even more amazing piece with 11 complications.

The company rose to the challenge and, before being delivered to Russia, the watch was shown at the Universal Exhibition of 1878 . Upon the death of the Count in 1896, it was acquired by a famous Portuguese collector, Dr Antonio Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, a demanding man who believed it should be possible to add even more complications. He sent Louis Leroy a long list of requests that he summarized as follows: “Create a watch that brings together in one portable timepiece all that science and mechanics can currently achieve.”

After seven years of work, Louis Leroy delivered the final piece to the King of Portugal, a faithful client of the company, when he was on a royal visit to Paris. A few days later, Doctor de Carvalho Monteiro was summoned to the Lisbon Palace where he received this amazing object from the hands of his King.

Further in this article, we highlight other important horology creations manufactured by the House of Leroy.

The “Grand Complication” Pocket Watch of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 25 468

Hunting-case (opening of the cover by pressure on the pendant), keyless winding and push-bolt setting (on the right side of the pendant), yellow gold, “demi-Bassine et filets”-shaped, pocket watch, featuring mean time (concentric hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock) and the following 9 horological complications:

– Minute-repeater on three gongs (release by the push-piece located on the case-band, on the right side of the pendant)
– Petite Sonnerie (position-lever of “Sonnerie (strike) / Silence”, on the left side of the pendant)
– Twin-barrel differential-winding
– Perpetual calendar
– Date of the month (subsidiary dial at 3 o’clock)
– Day of the week (subsidiary dial at 9 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Month of the year (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Four-year cycle of leap-years (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock)
– Phases of the moon (aperture at 6 o’clock)

 

Timekeeper manufactured in 1936, Inv. L-09. Sold on December 17, 1936, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 3 000 francs.

The “Triple Complication” Pocket Chronometer of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 18 486

Hunting-case (opening of the cover by pressure on the pendant), keyless-winding and push-bolt setting (on the right side of the pendant), yellow gold, “demi-Bassine et filets”-shaped, pocket chronometer, featuring mean time (concentric hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock) and the following 8 horological complications:

– Minute-repeater on two gongs (release by the slide located on the caseband, on the right side of the pendant)
-1/5 seconds chronograph (release by the rectangular push-piece located on the case-band, on the left side of the pendant)
– Perpetual calendar
– Date of the month (subsidiary dial at 3 o’clock)
– Day of the week (subsidiary dial at 9 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Month of the year (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Four-year cycle of leap-years (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock)
– Phases of the moon (aperture at 6 o’clock)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1927-1929, Inv. L-06, Sold on April 10, 1929, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 14 000 francs.

The Pocket Chronometer, so-called “Torpilleur” (deck watch), with Perpetual Calendar of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 21 289

Hunting-case (opening of the cover by pressure on the pendant), keyless-winding and push-pin setting (on the right side of the pendant), yellow gold, “demi-Bassine et filets, genre Anglais” (English type)-shaped, pocket chronometer, featuring mean time (concentric hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock) and the following 6 horological complications:

– Perpetual calendar
– Date of the month (subsidiary dial at 3 o’clock)
– Day of the week (subsidiary dial at 9 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Month of the year (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock; indications given in French)
– Four-year cycle of leap-years (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock)
– Phases of the moon (aperture at 6 o’clock)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1930-1932, Inv. L-22, Sold on April 11, 1932, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 11 000 francs.

The Pocket Chronometer with Chronograph of Monsieur le comte Michel de PierredonL. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 17 671

Open-face, keyless-winding and push-pin setting (on the right side of the pendant), rose gold, “Empire”- shaped, pocket chronometer, featuring mean time (concentric hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock) and the following 2 horological complications:

-1/5 seconds chronograph (release by the round push-piece located on the winding-crown)
– 30-minute recorder (subsidiary dial at 12 o’clock)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1926-1927, Inv. L-19. Sold on October 8, 1927, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 3 000 francs.

The Pocket Chronometer with Minute-repeater of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 16 438

Open-face, keyless-winding and setting, rose gold, “Empire”-shaped, pocket chronometer, featuring mean time (concentric hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock) and the following horological complication:

– Minute-repeater on two gongs (release by the slide located on the caseband, on the left side of the pendant)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1927-1928, Inv. L-17. Sold on September 8, 1928, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 8 600 francs.

The Ultra-thin Pocket Chronometer of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 20 782

Open-face, keyless-winding and setting, rose gold, “Empire”-shaped, ultra-thin pocket chronometer, with small seconds (subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1929-1930, Inv. L-15. Sold on November 18, 1930, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 5 000 francs.

The Pocket Chronometer with “écran paramagnétique” (paramagnetic cover) of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 19 216

Open-face, keyless-winding and push-pin setting (on the left side of the pendant), rose and grey gold, “Empire”-shaped, pocket chronometer, with small seconds (subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock) and patented “écran paramagnétique” (paramagnetic cover), known as “La Rochefoucauld »-type; in fact, the movement protected inside a soft iron calotte (protective container) against magnetic fields

Timekeeper manufactured in 1927, Inv. L-14, Sold on May 7, 1928, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 6 500 francs.

The Pocket Chronometer with a One-minute Tourbillon Regulator of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie, Paris, No. 25 029

Hunting-case (opening of the cover by pressure on the pendant), keyless-winding and push-bolt setting (on the right side of the pendant), yellow gold, “Bassine et filets”-shaped, pocket chronometer, with small seconds (subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock) and a one-minute tourbillon regulator

Timekeeper manufactured in 1935, Inv. L-08. Sold on June 4, 1935, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 3 000 francs (delivered on September 23, 1935).

The Self-winding Wristwatch of Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon, L. Leroy & Cie , Paris, No. 18 201

Yellow gold, “Navette”-shaped, self-winding and crown-setting wristwatch, with small seconds (subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock)

Timekeeper manufactured in 1929, Inv. L-52, Sold on February 9, 1929, to Monsieur le comte Michel de Pierredon (1883-1955), Paris, for the amount of 6 500 francs.

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