Alongside the likes of ETA and Sellita, Valjoux is another major leader in the mechanical movement industry. The Swiss movement manufacturer focuses mainly on chronograph ébauche calibres and is most widely recognised for their famous Valjoux 7750 movement which is considered one of the greatest chronograph movements in the world in both popularity and numbers. Today, we will be exploring the past of Valjoux and how it came to create one of the most used commonly used chronograph movements in the luxury watch industry today.
Before we can talk about Valjoux, we must talk about another Swiss movement manufacturer called Venus. Venus was a well-known movement producer in Switzerland in the 1920’s and was one of the very first movement manufacturers to create a chronograph equipped with a column wheel to control the central hand. Over the year’s, Venus’ success continued to intensify and they became widely known as one of the best chronograph manufacturers in the world.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the cost of manufacturing column wheel-based movements began to rise and so to stay competitive with other mechanical movement producers, Venus had to start designing cheaper, more cost-effective movements. Some of their cheaper calibres included the 188, 200, 210 and 211 which used a cam switching mechanism rather than the column wheel mechanism in their 175, 178 and 179 calibres. Sadly, it didn’t take long for Venus to being struggling with this change and eventually mechanical manufacturer rival Valjoux absorbed the company in 1966.
With Valjoux now in possession of Venus’ vast range of chronograph calibres, they were able to create their own Valjoux 7730 chronograph movement based largely on the Venus Calibre 188. It was redesigned with different reset hammers and fitted with a total of 17 jewels. In the end, the Valjoux 7730 calibre helped cement the brand as a leader in manual-winding chronograph movements during the 1960’s. However, the manufacturer was also aware of an impending threat that could put their company in danger; there was an unspoken race between Valjoux and other mechanical manufacturers as to who could create the first automatic chronograph movement.
Valjoux immediately began designing their first automatic movement and eventually ended up creating a piece of history, the Valjoux 7750. This unidirectional winding calibre was based on the 7730 and became one of the first movements designed with the aid of a computer. It continued to use the three-plane cam system rather than the column wheel and was constructed of a main plate, calendar plate and chronograph top plate. It also used levers to push the cam back and forth to drive the stopwatch mechanism, this became known as a coulisse-lever escapement.
The release of the Valjoux 7750 was a huge success with lots of luxury brands showing interest in the movement. However little did Valjoux know, the Quartz Crisis was just around the corner. In 1975, Valjoux completely stopped production as the watch world became completely focused on battery operated movements. Since quartz calibres were cheaper and more accurate than their mechanical counterparts, they became the only movement customers were interested in. Because of this, the majority of mechanical movement manufacturers and mechanical watch brands closed down.
In 1983, the Swatch group was formed in the hope to revive the watch industry once again. Many movement manufacturers joined forces with Swatch, including Valjoux, to bring life back into watchmaking. Thankfully, the entire Swiss watch industry began to flourish once again and the Valjoux 7750 movement even made a comeback in 1985. Since then, the Valjoux 7750 movement has continued to climb in popularity becoming one of the most trusted and successful automatic chronograph calibres in the industry. Brands like Breitling, TAG Heuer, Tissot, Longines, Junghans and Oris have all relied on the Valjoux 7750 movement to power many of their chronograph watches.