Inside the case is a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. This 4Hz (28,800 bph) 42-hour power reserve movement is a product of the era that this watch is meant to inspire in the 1970s. Even though the 7750 is a common mechanical movement, it is also a great performer (or at least can be regulated to be) and thoroughly makes sense in a product like this. Le Jour makes full use of the 7750’s features displaying the time, 12-hour chronograph, and the calendar windows for the day of the week and the date. Part of me wonders what the dial would look like if Le Jour opted to use black versus white-colored calendar discs.
I do feel that Le Jour put extra effort into the finishing of the case and bracelet. At least more effort than a lot of brands offering their own vintage-style sports watches. The polished edges help give the Le Jour Mark I a more high-end look and is certainly is important when taking into consideration the greater value proposition of the price – that edges toward the cost of more established “big name” luxury watch brand names.
Le Jour Mark I: Story
Le Jour themselves don’t really give the Mark I or this particular Mark I LJ-MI-007 meteorite watch much of an official story. The talking points any owner will have will be up to them. For me, the story is about the resurrection of a French-named watch brand that has a fun-sounding name. As well as the fact that the Mark I makes for a good alternative to the Mark II. Notice how Le Jour didn’t strictly emulate Omega but rather decided to produce something that Omega doesn’t actually produce.
That means Le Jour is more of an enthusiast collector’s brand as opposed to a poser brand that more or less copies other successful designs. In this respect, we feel that Le Jour’s designers had great respect for the Omega Speedmaster, notably its case, but didn’t want to create a model that knowledgeable watch lovers will confuse for something else. In that regard the Le Jour Mark I is not about deceiving people into thinking you are wearing a Speedmaster. More correctly, it feels like a true homage to the classic style of the Speedmaster Mark II, which tries to incorporate something a bit new into the mix.
With the meteorite dial, the story of the watch becomes a bit more interesting because now you get to talk about wearing a piece of space on your wrist. The crystalline metallic dial has an organic aesthetic that a lot of people enjoy, and find fun when combined with classic sports watch looks. I only feel that Le Jour could continue to play with the colors on the dial to offer the Mark I Meteorite (or subsequent models) a bit more fashionable variety.
Le Jour Mark I: Practicality
In the $2,000 USD and over segment there is a lot (a lot) of wrist watch competition. At that price, you have a universe of interesting mechanical watches from both smaller and larger brands. There might not be something quite like the Le Jour Mark I at this price point, but there is a lot else vying for wrist attention. Le Jour perhaps knows that they are among the few Speedmaster Mark II alternative brands on the market which gives them more control in how they price their products.
That isn’t to say that the Mark I watches are too much money. They do in fact feel like a good value even though the meteorite dial is up to $1,100 more than the standard dial versions. What is true, however (like I said), is that the $2,000 – $3,000 price point is competitive and offers consumers a lot of options. With that said, it is also a strange middle area between entirely entry-level luxury watches and products from more established brands. So for the time being, brands that release watches in this price segment know that brands (like Omega for example) don’t really offer new timepiece options in this MSRP price range.
It will take some time for collectors to acquire some Le Jour watches, such as the Mark I (or their Vintage Diver collection) for the community to make a judgment about their overall competitiveness. The Mark I will have to be comfortable and attractive on a fair number of wrists to get the type of attention it needs for enthusiasts to rally behind the brand. I think that has a solid chance of happening after a few years. Until then you can be among the select few to have a Mark II-style case in your very own Mark I (a notion which always causes me to giggle a bit). Price for the Le Jour LJ-MI-007 is $3,100 USD. Learn more order at Le Jour here.
>Brand: Le Jour
>Model: Mark I (reference LJ-MI-007 as tested)
>Price: $3,100 USD
>Size: 42.5mm wide, 16mm thick, 47mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When wanting to combine my love of meteorite dials and vintage-looking sports watches – all in a package that is familiar albeit also novel.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who loves the look of the Omega Speedmaster II but doesn’t want to get one or prefers something a bit more niche and uncommon. Good for larger wrists and those who like round dials on not round cases.
>Best characteristic of watch: Lovely case and bracelet finishing, as well as attractive overall wrist appeal. Meteorite dial is attractive and also doesn’t take away from the watch’s excellent legibility.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Tall bezel makes the watch feel rather thick. The heavy case needs a bracelet which can be micro-adjust to be snug in order to be worn more comfortable. Easy to dismiss as an overly enthusiastic homage of an Omega Speedmaster Mark II, but it isn’t exactly that even though some collectors might accuse it of that. Meteorite dial options add significantly to the price.