While there are famous watches strewn throughout the past century of watchmaking that even non-enthusiasts can recognize, there are only a few movements that carry an equal amount of reverence. Orchestras of gears, springs, jewels, and screws, of engineering and precise manufacturing, playing in harmony so their show-stealing counterparts can get the accolades. These movements, these legends, don’t get celebrated often enough, which is why we’re excited to do just that.
We’ve teamed up with Nivada Grenchen to create a duo of special watches that shine a spotlight within. One, with a movement of proven historical significance. A true icon of 20th-century watchmaking. The other is a burgeoning legend. A modern movement that has helped create a new generation of watches and collectors.
Introducing the Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72, and Datomaster VK64. A duo of watches inspired by legendary chronograph calibers but with a style all their own.
As much as we’d have liked to make a large quantity of Chronomaster Valjoux 72 chronographs, we were limited by the supply of movements. As such, there are only 20 available. They will go on sale 12.8.22 at 12pm ET .
As we’re not fans of overly exclusive launches, the Datomaster VK64 versions will be available for an ordering window of 72 hours beginning 12.7.22 at 12pm ET (when this article went live), ending 12.10.22 at 12pm ET – as many as are sold will be made but no more.
Say “Valjoux 72” to a watch collector and you can watch their ears perk up and eyes get a bit wider. The most revered chronograph caliber of all time, from 1918 to 1974 it was used as the engine for what ended up being some of the most iconic timepieces of the 20th century. From various Rolex Daytona references, including the Paul Newman, to the Heuer Carrera 2447, to Universal Geneve Compaxes, and, of course, the Nivada Grenchen Chronoking, the Valjoux 72 helped make them so great.
A manually wound caliber, the Valjoux 72 has a frequency of 18,000 bph and features a column wheel and lateral clutch. It’s easy to spot with its balanced three-register design featuring running seconds, elapsed minutes, and hours, as well as an asymmetric pusher layout (the start/stop pusher is closer to the crown than the reset). Though it’s been nearly 50 years since production ended, the Valjoux 72, and the watches that were based on it, still inspire and inform the chronographs of today. One might go so far as to say, it gave birth to the modern chronograph.
To celebrate the rare opportunity to utilize this vaunted caliber, we worked with Nivada Grenchen to make a watch worthy of this history. Inspired by the heyday of the chronograph, when the Valjoux 72 was in high demand, yet with its own, modern style and demeanor. Vintage as seen through a modern eye.
Based on Nivada’s classic 38mm Chronomaster case, the Valjoux 72 version features a black cherry aluminum bezel, immediately setting it apart from its vintage counterparts. A rich, deep red that just touches on magenta, the striking tone sets off Nivada’s unique double-index insert design. Falling into the dial, the colors maintain a balance between rich and moody, saturated and mysterious.
Starting with a racing-dial design from Nivada’s archives, we made the primary dial surface a deep fog gray with a strong blue undertone. Smokey, and cool. A ring of black encircles the fog gray on which a racing-style chrono-seconds index is printed in undulating cream lines, with dark red breaks at 5-second marks. Black sub-dials with cream indexes break up the surface, adding attitude and functionality. Large applied lume plots mark the hours, day or night. The hour, minute, and seconds hands are rendered in a deep cherry red, while the chronograph hands are in bright, cyan blue, making them easy to see and tell apart at a glance.
Through the open case back the restored Valjoux 72 movement is on full display. An incredibly complex array of gears, plates, levers, screws, springs, and jewels, in its day, it was rarely seen by anyone except for watchmakers as display backs are a relatively new phenomenon. The balance on one side of the distinctive “Y” bridge, which features the Nivada logo in gold, reflects the column-wheel on the other side. Watching everything mesh and work together is a chronograph enthusiast’s dream come true. For the purists, however, an additional solid case-back is included.
Attaching the Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72 to your wrist is a steel “beads of rice” style bracelet. A recreation of a vintage favorite, the modern version features quick-release end-links for easy removal, and micro-adjust to dial in your fit. Additionally, we are supplying each watch with a German-made Shell Cordovan rally strap made out of Horween cordovan.
Measuring 38mm (39mm at the bezel) x 46.5mm x 14mm with a box sapphire crystal, the Chronomaster Valjoux 72 has the fit of a rugged, vintage chronograph. Chunky in the right ways, the balance between a small dial opening and the black cherry bezel makes for an intriguing presence. The uniquely brushed and polished lugs of the Chronomaster case make the lugs appear thinner as well.
Each watch comes with a numbered letterpress print by Springs + Gears of the Valjoux movement found in the watch. Printed on an 8” x 8” blue-gray paper in silver ink, each print’s number corresponds to the number of the watch received.
The Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72 is limited to 20 pieces at $6,900 – one per customer. The watches will go on sale on December 8th, 2022 at 12pm ET. The first 10 will deliver in January, and the second 10 in March, 2023. Having been discontinued in 1974, this is a rare opportunity to own a new watch featuring the Valjoux 72 caliber. The movements featured in the watches are old stock, serviced, restored, and warrantied by Nivada Grenchen.
In the history of the chronograph, Seiko holds a unique position. In 1969, they released the caliber 6139, one of the first automatic chronographs to ever hit the market, and a legend in its own right. In 1980, Seiko launched the 7A28, the world’s first analog quartz chronograph. Another groundbreaking achievement. Around 2010, through SII (Seiko Instruments Inc.), they brought the VK line of mecaquartz chronograph calibers to market, making them available for brands around the world to utilize.
With quartz timekeeping and a mechanical chronograph gear train, the VK movements provided a “best of both worlds” scenario. The accuracy and affordability of quartz with the feel, smooth sweep, and instant reset of a mechanical chronograph. This unique combination allowed a new generation of brands to create high-quality chronographs, spurning a revival of iconic dual and triple register designs.
To create an accessible, modern counterpart to the Valjoux 72 Chronomaster, and celebrate this fantastic movement, we utilized Nivada Grenchen’s 36mm Datomaster. Based on a model from the seventies, the mecaquartz Datomaster is actually a scaled-down interpretation at 36mm x 43.5mm x 12mm with a wide dial opening for great wrist presence. Featuring a dual register design with a date at six, it truly looks like a classic chronograph.
For the Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Datomaster VK64 we stuck with the theme from the V72 Chronomaster to create a set of watches, but this time in two versions. The racing-dial layout carries over as does the palette are dark, saturated colors. Ver A also sports a fog gray surface with black sub-dials, a black chapter ring, and a mix of khaki, and deep red. The hour and minute hands are in red, while the chronograph seconds hand and sub-dial hands ar cyan. At six, the date is rendered in red on black, for a dark, stylish accent.
Ver B has the same colors but in an “inverse” setup. The dial surface is black, while the sub-dials and chapter are in cool, fog gray. The various indexes are in khaki, deep red, a black. The hour, minute, and sub-dial hands bring in a deep mustard tone, while the chronograph seconds is cyan, standing out above all else. Keeping both versions on your wrist is a medium brown rally strap made from tumbled leather with a pronounced grain.
The Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Datomaster VK64 Ver A and B are limited to a 72-hour order window starting December 7th, 2022, at 12PM ET (the time of publication of this post) and will end December 10th, 2022, at 12PM ET. All watches sold in that time frame will be produced, and no more. The first 50 of each color will ship by the end of December, with the remainder starting to ship in X.
The Nivada Grenchen x Worn & Wound Chronomaster Valjoux 72 and Datomaster VK64 mark the finale of our limited edition collaborations for 2022. Not a bad way to end the year. We want to thank Nivada Grenchen for the unique opportunity to create a watch with such a special, historical movement. As a group of watch enthusiasts, we couldn’t ask for more.
See you in 2023