Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 - Proto or production watch?
Welcome to an article where everything seems traditional and normal: the watch that I am going to review is a three-counter-chrono with two different case sizes (38mm and 40mm), different variations of dial and an alligator leather strap but it is also a Leroy, a Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 to be more precise. Behind that apparently simple look hides an entire encyclopedia of the most exclusive technical solutions in haute-horlogerie ever devised by Pierre Leroy and that have been brought back to life by the Festina Group (to which the Leroy brand also belongs).
The Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 watches that you can see in this picture are actually prototypes so it might be that something will change both aesthetically and mechanically when they are launched on the market. This is also the reason why I have no pictures of the movement mechanism and it is a real pity because it is in there that all the technical characteristics of a watch are usually contained and, in this case, we are talking about features, on paper, that are at the antipodes of the most refined technical solutions which currently exist.
The L200 caliber isn't equipped with an anchor escapement but rather with a direct impulse one that, unlike the first type of escapement, constantly transmits the energy to the regulating organ, thus enhancing the precision of the movement. The balance spring is produced in-house by a company belonging to the same group as Leroy and it has a double terminal curve (an inner one and an outer one) to improve the isocronism. The frequency of the balance wheel is quite low (the diameter of the wheel is pretty big) and the balance wheel oscillates at a frequency of 2.5Hz (or 18,000 beats per hour).
Another visible and distinctive characteristic of this timepiece is the way the seconds are indicated on the dial; this is not the so-called “deadbeat seconds complication” that some manufacturers have recently brought back in vogue but rather a “duplex” one that features a scale on the small hand located at 6 o'clock. The passing by of a single second is marked by a shorter click and then by a longer one; a tribute to the duplex escapement originally invented by Pierre.
On the last Leroy watches (like the Chronometre L100, whose review you can find on here), the power reserve indicator is discreetly hidden at 9 o'clock behind a lozenge-shaped opening inside which is a coloured indicator. The power reserve of the Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 can reach the 98 hours; when the power reserve level is between the 0 hours and the 60 hours, the colour of the indicator is the same shade as the dial, when the level moves between the 60 hours and the 80 hours the colour turns to white and after the level has moved beyond the 80 hours, the colour of the indicator turns red to remind the user that it is time they recharged the movement.
In their “apparent” simplicity, both the case and the dial are as interesting as the movement mechanism. Despite being a small manufacturer, Leroy has thought to offer its Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 in an ample selection of materials and different coloured dials. The case can be chosen in 5N rose gold, white gold palladium (non-rhodium-plated) or in a dual colour version. On the other hand, the dial is available in different colours; opaline silver, Leroy blue, Leroy champagne, pink champagne or dark slate grey, the dial is made of 925 sterling silver and it features a central guilloché pattern and crossed motifs (also called "grain d'orge") that are hand-made and applied gold Arabic numerals also.
A few more details about the high-end decorations of this timepiece; the pivots contained inside the movement mechanism are polished using a wood sanding machine, the sprockets have undergone a so-called “Mat de Genève" treatment, the main parts of the mechanism are finished using either the “Mat de Genève" treatment or are mirror polished, the bridges sport a bronzed anglage and “givré” decoration. The base of each screw has been blued to prevent oxidization while the head has been mirror polished until its colour has turned black.
Simplicity is only a matter of style and appearance when it comes to the Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200, this timepiece is the purest and most classic interpretation of a three-counter that has been enriched by decorations and technical features that other brands are not able to offer. If we take a look at what this watch does on paper, we will immediately understand why it sits at the top of the ladder in this specific market segment. The Leroy Chronometre Observatoire L200 should be crafted in a very limited amount of pieces and each individually-numbered-watch would come with a chronometric certificate issued by the Besançon Observatory that is in charge of testing each piece for 15 consecutive days.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®