L&JR Watches is a new value-oriented Swiss brand being launched by three industry veterans, from whom the brand gets its name; Lionel Ladoire, Jörg Hysek Jr., and Philippe Cros. L&JR Watches is debuting with a collection called “Step 1,” which features six watches across two product lines, divided into Day-Date and Chronograph models. These are all large watches, with 45mm dials and quartz movements, and seem to be primarily marketed towards young businessmen who want a boldly designed, Swiss-made watch at an affordable price point.
Each of the three founders of L&JR Watches have considerable experience in the watch industry. Philippe Cros comes from an engineering background and has previously worked for Vacheron Constantin and Piaget, as well as being appointed the Managing Director of Technomarine Asia in 2009. Jörg Hysek Jr. started out working as a salesman for Chopard, and went on to work for brands such as HD3, Slyde Watch SA, and MCT Watches in sales and business development roles, culminating with his recent appointment to International Director of Sales for De Bethune. Lionel Ladoire comes from an art and jewelry background, and launched his own micro-brand of luxury watches “Ladoire” in 2007.
L&JR Watches’ “Step 1” collection begins with three Day-Date models, each offering the same basic design and functionality in a variety of different case, dial, and strap colors. Common to all three models are the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, the big date display at 1 o’clock, the retrograde day of the week display between 12 and 9 o’clock, and a domed sapphire crystal over the dial. Water resistance is rated to 5 Bar (or approximately 50m) across the board, and the watches are powered by a Ronda Swiss quartz movement, with an expected battery lifespan of 4 years.
The first reference in this product line is the S 1301, which is the black-and-white model featured in the brand’s press release image and is priced at 1,280 CHF. It offers a white dial with a black PVD-coated stainless steel case, with alternate brushed and polished finishing. The strap is described as a distressed grey calf leather, although in the supplied images it appears mostly white. Reference S 1302 features a stainless steel case (sans the black PVD coating), with a black dial and a black calf strap with alligator printing, and is priced at 1,180 CHF. The third reference S 1303 also features a non-coated stainless steel case, with a bi-color black and grey dial and a black calf strap without alligator printing, and is likewise priced at 1,180 CHF.
The second product line in L&JR Watches’ “Step 1” collection features three chronograph models, each in a bi-compax (or two-register) design. The chronograph functions are accessed via two round-topped pushers located at 2 and 4 o’clock on the dial, and is capable of measuring elapsed time to 1/10th of a second. The big date display is located at 6 o’clock on the dials, and the retrograde day indicator has been moved to 12 o’clock so as not to obscure the chronograph registers. Like the Day-Date versions, these watches feature a domed sapphire crystal and are water-resistant to 50m, again featuring a Ronda Swiss quartz movement inside offering the same 4 year expected battery lifespan.
The first chronograph reference is S 1501, which follows the same design cues as its Day-Date counterpart; a white dial, black PVD-coated case, and a “distressed grey” calf leather strap, with an asking price of 1,480 CHF. But unlike the Day-Date versions, there are no exposed steel cases on offer in the chronograph collection – all three models are black PVD-coated. Reference S 1502 brings a black dial and black calf strap to the table, and is inexplicably cheaper than its predecessor with a price tag of 1,380 CHF. The last reference S 1503 provides a bi-color black and grey dial with the same black calf strap, and is also priced at 1,380 CHF.
Although the debut of a collection priced under $2,000 USD is certainly refreshing from a Swiss brand, I’m not entirely sold on the value proposition on offer here. L&JR Watches won’t appeal to anyone interested in brand recognition, and while Ronda makes some nice quartz movements there isn’t anything particularly special or notable about them. The existence of high-accuracy quartz timepieces like the Longines V.H.P (which we covered here) cast this whole collection into doubt, offering greater horological interest and a respected brand name for very similar prices. Time will tell if the collective industry experience at L&JR Watches will produce something more significant for their “Step 2” collection in the future. landjr.com