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. With the patina’d lume 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 here, 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, used the exact same cases and dials. The difference between the two being, naturally, no Heuer-signed dial.
And, just in time for the 2020 release (maybe?) 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 PVD-coated stainless-steel bracelet, velcro NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1970’s LeJour “Poor Man’s Heuer” Valjoux Mechanical Chronograph
DIAL: Black LeJour-signed three register dial, with matching hour, minute, and chronograph hands.
CASE: Lugless stainless-steel PVD-coated case measures 41mm (43 w/crown) x 42mm; this case is quite thick at 13.5mm. PVD coating is mostly uniform throughout the case, pushers, and crown; that said, somewhere along the line some of the PVD was chipped and some enterprising individual saw fit to paint the chips in.
CRYSTAL: Flawless mineral crystal, no scratches.
BAND: This LeJour comes with a black PVD-coated stainless-steel bracelet, with some - not heavy - wear typical for its age. This LeJour also comes with a black velcro "NASA" NATO strap, akin to those worn by astronauts (albeit, with no spacesuit to wrap around, shorter in length).
MOVEMENT: LeJour three register Valjoux 7750 automatic mechanical movement.
CROWN: Unsigned PVD crown.