The 1970’s were a legit transition point for the Swiss watchmaking industry, which attempted to survive the quartz onslaught (brought on, ironically, by Seiko!) by contracting with other brands to do whatever it took – even if it meant putting their names on watches that weren’t, well, obviously Swiss. One of these was LeJour, a French brand known in the United States by its export name, Yema; regardless, LeJour at least didn’t stray far from the normal tried and true chronograph formula the brand was known for, leaving us with this fetching black PVD example here, which is in near New-Old Stock condition. With the patina’d lume, a white date wheel at 6:00 and a slender yet poignant orange central chronograph hand, there’s more than enough visual contrast going on here to make the watch visually engaging. Couple this with an angled inner tachymeter bezel, and it all adds up to 1970/80’s Porsche gauges and later German watches. During the 1970/80s, LeJour specialized in more affordable versions of watches nearly identical to Heuer and Porsche Design/Orfina offerings of the era – such as the "Poor Man's Heuer," LeJour's popular Valjoux-powered chronograph, which was identical to the Pasadena, save for the absence of the Heuer logo. These represent an interesting facet of Heuer’s history and provide a way for individuals to collect these chronographs on a more reasonable budget. Heuer manufactured these LeJour chronographs under a private-label arrangement in the 1980's, and, under the terms of the arrangement Heuer manufactured an array of watches, which LeJour then distributed; some, like the Heuer Pasadena and LeJour model 7750 (and 7734 here), used the exact same cases and dials. The difference between the two being, naturally, no Heuer-signed dial, one less register, and the 7734 is a manual-wind movement vice the 7750’s automatic one. And, just in time for the 2020 release of the sequel to the movie that made Tom Cruise’s career, namely “Top Gun,” the Orfina PVD variant of this watch (marketed under the Porsche name brand) adorned the wrist of Cruise’s LT Pete "Maverick” in the original 1986 Top Gun flick. This LeJour comes with a leather strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool. Importantly, it also comes with its LeJour chronograph manual!
1970’s LeJour “Poor Man’s Heuer” Valjoux 7734 Chronograph
DIAL: Brilliant and detailed original black LeJour-signed two register dial. Original hour, minute, and chronograph hands.
CASE: Original 41mm (43 w/crown) x 42mm lugless PVD steel case, this case is quite thick at 13.5mm. PVD coating is excellent and uniform throughout the case, pushers, and crown.
CRYSTAL: Original mineral crystal, several small scarcely noticeable scratches.
BAND: This LeJour comes with a black leather strap, with white accent stitching and black hardware to match the case. This LeJour also comes with a green, white, and dark blue nylon NATO strap.
MOVEMENT: Original LeJour two register Valjoux 7734 manual-wide mechanical movement.
CROWN: Original unsigned PVD crown.