WH&T LCF888 Automatic Chronograph: Introducing the first industrialized school watch in the history of watch making

WH&T represents a unique and disruptive project to produce the first industrialized school watch in the history of watch making.

Launched by the students of an independent training center based in La Chaux-de-Fonds specializing in continuous training in watchmaking techniques, the Wild Horologists and Team initiative is pooling the capacities of a number of regional industrial stakeholders under the banner of its intriguing acronym: WH&T (pronounced ‘what’).

The Swiss companies/organizations assisting the WH&T project are Le Carrousel Formation, Watch Business Lab, Concepto Watch Factory SA, Toast Production Sàrl, Agence NEUE, Etude De Style Sàrl and Lucente Group Sàrl.

Based in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Le Carrousel Formation offers a workshop covering all the stages required to produce a new collection, from the first pencil sketches to the watch finally reaching the customer’s wrist. Consequently, the Watch Business Lab provides students with an excellent overview of the complexity of the business, with contributions from consultants drawn from all the relevant sectors.

This ambitious new project to create an industrially produced school watch was initiated by students of the 2018-19 year group, and was enthusiastically received by the training staff. It is a complex but achievable objective, requiring a precise set of specifications and the adhesion of corporate partners to meet the needs of each phase of development, production and communication.

For this project, WH&T team dreamed a wristwatch with a contemporary, accomplished and assertive design, offering exceptional value for money, accessible to as many people as possible through a crowd funding campaign. And they have succeeded to develop an incredible automatic chronograph whose movement is entirely manufactured in La Chaux-de-Fonds, reflecting the time-honored know-how of a region that holds UNESCO World Heritage status, while also clearly demonstrating that the future generation of horology professionals can achieve the standards of their illustrious predecessors.

Distilling their knowledge and experience through the different courses offered, the trainers and external contributors at Le Carrousel Formation center pass on watchmaking know-how, both in educational and cultural terms. The institution opened its doors in 2011 and has since trained more than 600 students in a range of practices and specializations, whether current employees in the industry or people seeking a career change. The different sessions on offer enable students to specialize in a variety of fields, related to the assembly of a movement or a complete timepiece, for example, while also studying aspects such as design, marketing and distribution.

In perfect harmony with the school’s motto, once the theoretical basics have been assimilated, future horology professionals are given the opportunity to train their eyes and hands at the workshop benches. Practical training enables the acquisition and understanding of academic and theoretical knowledge, rather than the other way around.

As with the industrial and technological sectors, the craftsmanship and artistic professions are constantly changing and developing, completely transforming the parameters of communication and distribution. Shaken in the early 21st century by the advent of the digital era, the world of watchmaking is no exception, constantly adapting in order to seize the many opportunities that arise.

As part of its Watch Business Lab training module, the college offers students the chance to break away from the cozy confines of the workshop with a cross-cutting and immersive introduction to every phase – from designing to distributing a horological product – including the field of advertising.

The immediate enthusiasm generated by the student-led idea to create the first industrialized school watch quickly spread to all of the center’s internal and external stakeholders. It was a question of going beyond theoretical teaching while applying its principles to the realities of the market, this time in a new field for the college.

The teaching staff provides training and knowledge, theory and practice; but never a “finished product” intended to be advertised and distributed worldwide. Significant financial means (e.g. for the production of components) and technical and logistic resources are required to bring a project of this kind to completion, and could not have been deployed without the help of partners, who have been closely involved.

Under the direction of the project manager, students produced a complete presentation and precise specifications which were distributed and explained to key businesses identified in advance. Inspired by the students’ energy, a number of them immediately committed to covering the specific needs of each stage. In doing so, they accepted a risky approach to funding due to it being based essentially on a participatory financing campaign.

Behind the original idea, the means began to take shape, but to embark on such an adventure with no aim other than the completion of the project itself (while breaking even financially), it was necessary to create a semi-autonomous entity entirely dedicated to it. The young team therefore needed to find a code name which was not just a brand name in the usual sense of the term, but a banner under which to unite all the talents willing to drive the project forward. This was to be an official entity independent of the college, guaranteeing quality, deliveries and, most importantly, an after-sales service for the long term.

WH&T has been created by pooling know-how around the students’ common project. Designers, engineers, Swiss mechanical movement manufacturers, decorative component producers, watchmaking assemblers, as well as, for project communication purposes, graphic designers, film-makers and communication professionals all gave their precious time and exceptional knowledge in a dynamic and dedicated team spirit, in order to share the fruits of this unique project as widely as possible.

Bringing together all the skills required for the realization of such an adventure is no mean feat in an economic context where competition is fierce, not to mention the truly unique nature of the project, something never previously undertaken on this scale.

On examining the first sketches of the LCF888 model, it is immediately obvious that the WH&T team have not deviated from the students’ original objectives: the result is quite simply spectacular, in both technical and aesthetic terms.

This automatic chronograph will be equipped with a semi-skeletonized mechanical movement (caliber C3057) exclusively manufactured for the project and composed of 245 parts, mostly biocompatible with the famous traditional Valjoux 7750 calibers and derivatives.

The difference between the motor specifically developed for the LCF888 model and mass-produced industrial movements is found in its finish and aesthetic details, as seen in the openwork dial equipped with three complications positioned in “tricompax ” style.

Different versions of the case are currently being developed, made from medical-grade stainless steel (316L/1.4435) and adorned with solid ceramic bezels. They feature impeccable finishes with an array of facets, alternately polished and satin-finished, creating an interplay of reflections which enlivens their contemporary design, recalling the rhythmic and jerky lines of stealth aircraft. Six different variants are currently in development and already at the initial manufacturing phase.

As explained, WH&T is not a brand that needs to apply significant multiplication factors between the actual cost of the product and its price in the shop window. The sizeable margins obtained enable watchmaking brands to meet all the costs related to running a business, selling their product, marketing and future development.

One of the incredibly special aspects of this project is that Wild Horologists and Team are seeking only to break even financially, no more, no less. Furthermore, this is a one-shot project, limited for now to this model. Everyone will understand, however, that an adventure of this kind has significant and irreducible costs, even within the framework of an educational and training exercise conducted under real conditions.

The key stages of the process have been estimated and validated on the basis of offers received from partners. They are entered into an overall budget, which must now be covered by the proceeds from sale of the products; up to this point, everything is clear and simple. The difficulty arises with estimation of the final costs related to advertising, shipping costs to customers located all over the world (following the crowd funding campaign) and, finally, the matter of operating costs external to the training center (margins taken by the funding platforms, carriers, customs, etc.).

For the moment, the WH&T team has therefore decided not to announce a final price, but this chronograph, scheduled to launch in the autumn on the famous Kickstarter platform, is likely to be offered within an extremely attractive and unprecedented price range of between CHF 1399 and 1599.

To be produced in an edition of around one thousand individually numbered pieces, this series of timepieces represents the students’ passion for, and desire to share, the beauty of mechanical horology, combined with the know-how of the team of professionals supporting them.

Technical details

Movement
Caliber C3057 by the Concepto Watch Factory
Mechanical movement with automatic winding by a ball-bearing-mounted central oscillating mass
Total thickness of movement: 8.40 mm
Diameter: 30.40 mm (13¼)
Balance-wheel frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Number of jewels: 27
Number of components: 245
Power reserve: 48 hours
Regulating organ (escapement): Top chronometer quality
Cam chronograph mechanism, integrated into the movement
Finish on upper bridges: semi-open-worked and grained
Date disk: laser-cut (skeletonized)
Compatible with the Valjoux 7753 Chronograph Movement

Functions
Hours and minutes displayed by central hands, small seconds at 9 o’clock. Central 60-second chronograph counter, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock (Tri-Compax display)
Date function with aperture positioned at half past four, skeletonized-type openwork, with rapid crown correction

Crown and pushers
Crown that activates the winding stem, in three positions: 1) operation and manual winding position (34 turns to fully wind); 2) rapid date correction; 3) time setting with stop seconds
Chronograph activation push-piece (start-stop) at 2 o’clock and zero-reset push-piece at 4 o’clock

Case, dial and strap
Case middle in 316L / 1.4435 stainless steel
Diameter 41.00 mm and total thickness 15.00 mm
Upper bezel in scratchproof black ceramic (except for model LCF888/01)
Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Black PVD-treated crown and push-pieces
Luminescent material on hour-markers and H-M hands
Lower bezel in anodized aluminum
Case-back fixed by 8 screws, polished heads
Water-resistance guaranteed to 100 m (10 ATM)
Sapphire crystal
Strap in robust natural rubber (70 Shore)
Over-molded fastening insert
Strap fixed by screw and tube

Proposed Models

Reference LCF888/01

Case: Stainless steel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Blue anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Blue and silvered, Super-LumiNova
Hands: Rhodium-plated, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel

Reference LCF888/02

Case: Stainless steel, ceramic bezel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Black anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Black and silvered, Super-LumiNova
Hands: Rhodium-plated, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel

Reference LCF888/03

Case: Stainless steel, ceramic bezel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Red anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Black and silvered, Super-LumiNova
Hands: Rhodium-plated, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel

Reference LCF888/04

Case: Stainless steel, black PVD, Ceramic bezel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Black anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Black and anthracite, Super-LumiNova
Hands: Rhodium-plated, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel, black PVD

Reference LCF888/05

Case: Stainless steel, black PVD, Ceramic bezel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Red anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Black and anthracite, Super-LumiNova
Hands: Rhodium-plated, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel, black PVD

Reference LCF888/06

Case: Stainless steel, 5N gold PVD, Ceramic bezel
Push-pieces and crown: Stainless steel, black PVD
Bezel ring: Black anodized aluminum
Crystal front and back: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Dial: Black and 5N gold PVD, Super-LumiNova
Hands: 5N gold PVD, Super-LumiNova
Strap: Natural rubber
Buckle: Pin buckle, stainless steel, 5N gold PVD

Contact details

Wild Horlogists Project
1a, Rue du Versoix
CH – 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds
https://what.ch

Coming soon on Kickstarter………

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