Le Jour, a French distributor, is best known as a European retailer of chronographs manufactured by Heuer in the 1980s. (Le Jour was also the name Yema used to bring watches into the States). Back then, Heuer, produced an array of watches under their private label arrangements. Many of these watches were identical to those already in Heuer’s catalog minus Heuer’s branding. In the mid ’80s, Heuer made a PVD sports chronograph called the Pasadena. Heuer also manufactured this model for Le Jour, who debuted it as their 7203 chronograph. This model is often referred to as a poor man’s Heuer amongst collectors.
Like many companies, Le Jour eventually perished during the height of the quartz crisis. The rights to the brandchanged ownership numerous times, with no major attempt to revive the brand. That is, until now...
Charming Cream Panda Dial
The Le Jour Mark l - 005 Chronograph Bracelet is a remake of the 7203 chronograph, drawing design cues from the original. Powering the Le Jour Mark I chronograph is the workhorse movement, Valjoux 7750. It’s an industry workhorse, and one that most collectors are familiar with.
What makes the Mark 1 chronograph so attractive is of course the barrel case. Most watch manufacturer in the 70s and 80s has their fair share of barrel case watches be it a chronograph or diver. The case measures 42.5mm wide, 45.8mm lug-to-lug, and 16mm thick. It’s a watch with a lot of wrist presence, but the rather short lug-to-lug case makes this watch ultra wearable even on the smallest of wrist.
In terms of the case design, the case of the Mark I is very well thought. The 3 piece case consist of the bezel, mid case and caseback. Starting from the top, the bezel has a bevel to cut off some of the height visually. The same design cue is carried over to the mid-case, which features a sets of bevels running down the sides of the case both at the top and at the bottom. Both these contributes to hiding the height of the watch while adding charisma of the Mark I chronograph. The finishing on the barrel case chronograph of the Mark I - 005 Cream Panda is different from the other models. The bezel is high polished, the top of the case is satin brushed, sunburst effect, the side of the watch is satin brushed and the bevels on the top and bottom are high polished giving the watch a exquisite feel.
Mixed of satin brush and polished bevel for an up-market feel
The dial is also the major contributor to the beauty of the Mark 1 Chronograph. The gray dial is largely inspired by the Le Jour 7203 chronographs. Given today's advancement in watchmaking, the dial is well executed compared to those of yesteryears. The beautiful off-white dial has 3 black subdials that are sunken deep into the dial. This gives each register a depth and to further accentuate that depth, there’s a high-gloss, angled ring around each cut-out. Overall, this level of detailing gives the watch dimension and a sense of fine watchmaking and class.
The hour and minute hands are based on the design most vintage watch collectors are familiar with. The hands are designed for easy time reading. The hands associated with the chronograph are in a contrasting pale orange color. Again, this design idea is found in most chronographs in the 80s when function is all that matters. Good amount of SuperLuminova is applied to the dial and hands for operations in the dark.
With functionality in mind, the Le Jour chronograph is fitted with a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on the inside to ensure maximum readability regardless of lighting conditions.
The same attention to details is continued onto the bracelet
The Mark I chronograph comes on a 22mm solid, three link bracelet that tapers to 18mm at the clasp. The 2 outer links on the bracelet has bevels on the edges that matches the bevels on the case. The deplyant clasp with push button release also has 2 engraved lines that flows into the lines of the outer links on the bracelet to create a seamless transition from watch to bracelet to clasp. One of the many things on the watch that shows that much thoughts has been put into the design of the watch.
Every Le Jour Mark I chronograph comes in a wooden box with a cleaning cloth.
The introduction of the Mark l chronograph from Le Jour is indeed a step forward for the reintroduction of the Le Jour brand. We highly recommend the Mark l - 005 Chronograph to those who are looking for a barrel case chronograph or simply those who wants and appreciates good design and well made chronograph. The attention to details on the case finishing is second to none. If you are looking for a "non-toolish" look like on the 001, than the Mark I - 005 Cream Panda is certainly worth considering. There might be other similarly executed barrel case 7750 chronographs from other watch companies but they hardly come at this price.