“Chronometry” (precision timing) is establishing itself as the backbone of the entire Leroy strategy. While the segment is already quite crowded, Leroy has solid claims in this domain as its CEO Olivier R. Müller explains to WorldTempus. He also signals the forthcoming release of the L300 calibre, to be followed by Grande Complication models, naturally titled “01”.
Leroy is reconstructing its history, as so many others have done based on more or lesser known names from horological hagiography: Julien Coudray, Breguet, Louis Moinet, Emile Chouriet, and shortly Ferdinand Berthoud. The principle behind the endeavour is entirely praiseworthy and can prove successful when the story tells of History and the product is consistent with the brand territory.
Olivier R. Müller has in fact been patiently working on the Leroy territory for the past few years, a process regularly punctuated by concrete signs of progress: relocating production in Switzerland, abandoning the “L.” formerly preceding “Leroy”, a focus on the history of the Leroy lineage, etc. … At the end of 2014 came the choice of an overarching theme for the brand as a whole: chronometry.
The good news is that the theme effectively encompasses its history from Julien Le Roy (1686-1759) through to Pierre (1717-1785). The bad news is that chronometry is a jam-packed field, which is precisely why Olivier R. Müller explains to WorldTempus how Leroy intends to stand out from the rest.
Why choose the somewhat overcrowded domain of chronometry?
Because we are the most legitimate in this area along with Ferdinand Berthoud, which the Chopard group is set to relaunch soon. Julien and his son Pierre Le Roy are the forefathers of modern chronometry, with creations that were decisive for both deck and marine chronometers. It is indeed amusing to note that the competition between Leroy and Berthoud will thus perhaps be revived three centuries after their initial quarrel.
What do you mean by that?
Berthoud nurtured a firm dislike of Leroy and spent a considerable amount of time attempting to discredit him, indeed somewhat successfully in that certain doubts were cast at the time on Leroy’s creative genius. The quarrel did not however last very long and all historians have admitted over the centuries that while Berthoud undoubtedly implemented a large number of inventions with extremely meticulous care, the grand principles of chronometry were conceived and laid out by Leroy.
So Leroy chronometry should be regarded as more legitimate than others?
It is indeed so by definition. We could have chosen many other fields of expression, such as the marine watch or the self-winding wristwatch, which we also owe to Leroy. But there are already many stakeholders in the latter field, backed by considerable resources. We therefore had to adopt a distinctive positioning consistent with our history. And chronometry is exactly that.
Eight months ago, you indicated that you wished to retain at least one model from the former collections (read our article). Is that still the case?
No, and for two reasons. The first is that our historical models all sold well. In concrete terms, that means that I don’t have any stocks to handle and can therefore guide these models to the end of their natural life cycle without any risk of undue exploitation.
Secondly, it would in fact not have been consistent to maintain these models, some of them equipped with a Vaucher base calibre, in the face of the two Manufacture calibres we have just developed. We have in the past tried to become an all-rounder institutional brand and the result was a total commercial flop. Joining the ranks of niche brands such as Romain Gauthier, Kari Voutilainen, Greubel Forsey and Laurent Ferrier meant starting from scratch.
A risky wager...
...but one we were prepared to take. We provided the means to take up this challenge in the shape of our L100 and L200 calibres, entirely developed in-house including their escapements and balance-springs. Chronometry is the story that will drive these and subsequent models.
How will this work?
We are going to have all our models certified by Besançon Observatory. Calibre L300 is almost finished already. In the medium term, we are even planning to return to the field of Grand Complication models with a 01 collection, an obvious tribute to the famous Leroy 01. I will probably have retired by then, but our current roadmap runs to 2022…
All of this will of course depend on convincing the end customer…
I am confident. The theme of chronometry is an authentic sales argument, notably in China and Hong Kong, where consumers regard the approach as being just as important as the certified precision of the model. We are indeed planning to adapt our distribution network accordingly to comprise a maximum of 50 points of sale in the future.