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Review: Candaux 1740 First 8

The spirit of the Vallée de Joux in a watch.
by Peter Chong on May 31, 2017
Positives

Magnificently thought through, beautifully executed.
A true masterpiece watch.

Negatives

The asking price might be perceived to be high in these days of #ComplicationsForLess.

David Candaux has an impressive CV in watchmaking, but this is the first watch with his name on the dial. Exhibiting under the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) banner, he showed the 1740 First 8. An unusual name for a watch. But this is a watch which embraces the old world watchmaking artistry. And comes with attractive aesthetics to boot. Two series will be offered. The first is a limited edition of 8 pieces called simply First 8. This is the version we are reviewing. And when these have been taken up, a second series will be released which will be known as LA 1740. Details within.

 

The Candaux 1740 First 8. A limited edition series of only 8 watches, crafted by David Candaux.

 

David Candaux

While he may not yet be a household name in watch enthusiasts homes, David Candaux is a name which reverberates nicely within the heralded circles of high watchmaking. He was previously at Jaeger LeCoultre and was responsible for various complicated watches. One of the watches he was responsible for is the Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie, which we reported in the link. He was also responsible for the amazing MB&F HM6. We reviewed the HM6 in the link. He is also the brains behind the somewhat unusual brand Fonderie 47. Quite an impressive CV.

And he set out to preserve the heritage in haute horlogerie of the region he hails from – the Vallée de Joux. David’s workshop is in the little hamlet of Le Solliat, just a stone’s throw away from the village’s arguably most famous resident – Grandmaster Philippe Dufour.

 

David Candaux. Photographed March 2017. Basel.

 

The significance of 1740 in the model’s name is the fact that in that year, Samuel Oliver Meylan started to build a watchmaking facility in the Vallée de Joux. Others soon followed. And a new industry was born in the valley.

David Candaux himself was born and raised in the valley into a family of watchmakers. His father and his grandfather were master watchmakers, and he soaked up the craft from an early age. His world view is much shaped by the lake and forests as much as the workbenches. He began his watchmaking journey proper at the age of 14. The watch under review is the culmination of some 20 years of thinking as he journeys through the world of fine watchmaking. His father Daniel Candaux, who used to work at the workshops of Patek Philippe now assists his son in the watches.

 

Candaux 1740 First 8

The Candaux 1740 is an unusual timepiece. It is designed with asymmetry in mind, and achieves it at many levels. At first glance, it might be mistaken by the casual observer to be aesthetically similar to the FP Journe Souverain Tourbillon Remontoir d’Égalité. But the similarities are only at a very casual level, possibly triggered by the sub-dial which holds the minute and hour indication, the offset tourbillon cage by its side, and the colour of the main dial. But it even goes one level further than casual visuals, as both watches feature a remontoir as a constant force device. But from here, the similarities end, and both watches are like chalk and cheese.

Firstly, the dial of the Candaux is raised at 12 and lowered at 6. This results in the dial being inclined towards the wearer at a 3° angle, Secondly, the Candaux tourbillon is flying, while the Journe uses a one armed cock to hold the cage. The Candaux tourbillon is also set at an incline, and the balance within set to a further incline within. A central second hands is used in the Candaux while the Journe has none in the early editions, with later editions featuring a small seconds indication mounted on the 1 second remontoir. Both watches feature a power reserve indication at 12. Visually, the Journe takes on a fan like shape for the power reserve indication, and the Candaux shows the indicator through an aperture in the dial.

 

David Candaux’s First 8 presents an interesting visual. The finishing is top drawer, and the watch reeks with an effortless beauty.

 

The case, dial and hands

The case is classically designed round case in stainless steel with lugs which are screwed into the case. The case surfaces are smooth curves which appear voluptuous, perhaps even a suggestion of being sensuous. Even the part where the lugs join the case are meticulously matched such that it appears as a single unit, the very small gap being very even, and hidden by the bezel when looking from the dial side. The case is satin finished by hand.

The strap is integrated to the lugs in a special attachment system, visually just appearing from below the case/lugs. The case carries what might first seem to be a strange lump at 6. This lump is the “secret” crown. The crown is itself a complication, with 31 parts and activated by pressure. It is activated by pushing it once to release it, and once activated offers two additional positions: one to set the time and the other to manually wind the movement.

 

The dial of the 1740 First 8 is assymetric and inclined. Note the dial is lower into the case on the left of the photograph than it is on the right. It also features a “secret cwown” at 6, and an inclined tourbillon.

 

The main dial is made of 18k rose gold, and the texture visible on it is hand grained. The hour and minute is indicated in a sub-dial is on the right hand of the watch face. This sub-dial is carried in a frame which joined to the frame over the edge of the tourbillon opening and goes on to make a asymmetric circumference of the dial. The frame is made in 18k grey gold, and features several sharp inward angles, as well as a beautifully executed anglage. The sub-dial for the hour and minute itself is in grand feu enamel with black enamel inscription of roman numerals and markers which are transfer printed. Four “compass rose” points indicating 12, 3, 6 and 9 are appliqués in grey gold.

 

The tourbillon cage is inclined at 3 degrees in relation to the plate, and the balance inclined at 30 degrees in relation to the cage.

 

A large centrally mounted seconds hand is inwardly turned to reduce parallax at the point where the seconds are read. Unusually, the hand moves once every 5 seconds, a function of the remontoir. We describe this in more detail in the Movement section below. This distinctive visual element gives the watch an element of character of old time precision regulators installed at watchmaking workshops.

The tourbillon takes a pride of place on the dial, sitting right beside the hour and minute sub-dial, in an aperture as large as the sub-dial is large. The tourbillon can be said to be double inclined. The cage is made of titanium and mounted on ball bearings inclined at 3° to the case. In addition, the balance wheel within the tourbillon cage is inclined at 30° to the cage. David calls this arrangement “bi-plan”, and works to ensure a continual change in the position of the cage to optimise the averaging properties of the tourbillon to effects of gravity. The tourbillon makes one revolution in 60 seconds, and offers a constant amplitude of 250°. A Breguet overcoil is also used and with the constant force device (more in The movement section) ensures good chronometry. David has tested the watch with Chronofiable and plans to submit his production to COSC, to obtain the Chronometer certificate.

The movement Caliber 1740

The movement, visible through the sapphire case back is made of polished titanium and stainless steel. Each bridge is tilted at a 3° angle to the base plate. This is visible as a cascade of the bridges from the back. The bridges are also decorated with a special fausses côte. This is a new style of finishing elaborated by David in place of the standard  Côtes de Genevé. The effect is a gradual change of tone while still giving the impression of undulating slopes, and suggests that each band is made up of three different bands. David calls this Côtes du Solliat.

We find the visual aesthetics to be very beautiful, and a nice change from the usual.

 

The movement plates from the case back. The distinctive style of fausses côtes on the bridges tell only half the story of the inclined movement.

 

The movement plates and bridges are made of untreated titanium, an unusual choice of material. And the two small bridges holding the wheel train are in black polished stainless steel.  The jewels are held in gold chatons, and all the openings on the bridges carry brilliantly polished counter sinks. All inscriptions are engraved by hand. Interestingly technical specifications are engraved on the plate. Data regarding the balance, its CGS number, its inertia, the lift angle and quality indicator are provided so that future generations of watchmakers who open the watch for repair and restoration work have the documentation at hand.

 

Movement finish is quite exceptional, with all the traditional techniques executed with virtuoso artistry. Note the black polished caps holding the jewels.

 

As mentioned, the watch carries a 5 second remontoir located between the barrel and the flying tourbillon. This remontoir system provide a constant force to the escapement, ensuring better chronometry. As soon as the mainspring falls below a certain threshold, the remontoir stops operating, and with it the watch stops. The 1740 First 8 is thus said to have a chronometric power reserve, as precision is guaranteed once the movement is active.

The remontoir is a spring is installed between two wheels on the train. It works by blocking the mainspring power for a short period (in the case of the 1740 First 8, this period is 5 seconds) and provides the power to run the escapement. The remontoir itself gets recharged by the mainspring once every 5 seconds. This blocking function has the effect of “choping” up the power of the mainspring into small steps. As it is recharged once ever 5 seconds, the torque of the remontoir js smaller than that of the mainspring, and is nearly constant.  This guarantees a good accuracy to the watch. The action of the remontoir recharging can be seen on the large central seconds hand, which is coupled to the remontoir. This hand moves 30° once every 5 seconds, instead of once a second in the traditional seconde morte. This unusual second hand arrangement also provides visual confirmation with its clear pauses for the watchmaker to fine tune the chronometry.

 

The assymetry which is immediately apparent, but yet, is deeper than meets the eye.

 

Movement finish

The movement is finished par excellence. Other than the special techniques developed by David for the Côtes du Solliat, the movement bridges feature no less than 23 inward angles. Inward and outward angles are virtuoso techniques used to demonstrate the excellence of handwork of the watchmaker. These cannot be executed by machines, and each angle requires tedious and skillful work.

The visual aesthetic is rather special. The anglage is done to perfection, rounded and polished in the traditional Valée method.The pinions are polished in the traditional artisanal method of using a wooden grinding wheel to make a groove just after the center of the pivot. This technique ensures the lubrication remains in place. These small details make for a special watch, and one can almost feel the movement being willed into life by the breath of David Candaux, and the passion within.

The competitive landscape

The Candaux 1740 First 8 is perhaps unique. Priced at CHF 216,800 it is not inexpensive. The closest competition is definitely the regular LA 1740. There is an obvious price difference of some CHF 10,200, but the First 8 is a limited edition of 8 pieces, while the LA1740 is not limited. The LA1740 also features a platinum brushed dial instead of the rose gold grained dial used in the First 8.

The other visual competition might be the FP Journe Souverain Tourbillon Remontoir d’Égalité. We have compared it in the text above. Visual cues are similar, but the watch is totally different.

The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Remontoir d’égalité with a black mother of pearl dial. A unique piece produced for Sincere Watch.

One might also compare to the various Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillons. An example might be the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision.( €322,000 in a rose gold case, several variants are  offered). But the attention to the concept of asymmetry is carried on further and arguably better by David Candaux than by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey. Finishing of both watches are top drawer, neither giving away anything to the other.

 

Concluding thoughts

We are overwhelmed by this watch. The Chief Editor was sufficiently impressed to include it as part of Editor’s Choice for Best Independent Baselworld 2017.

The amount of thought that went into the design of the 1740 First 8 is amazing. The continuity and maturity of this thinking is even more so.

All aspects are thoroughly thought through. From the design of the case, to the integrated lugs, to the rounded shapes what define the case surfaces. The thinking behind the inclined dial, inclined tourbillon cage and further inclined balance to the inclined bridges behind. The attention to detail in the use of premium materials like 18k grey gold, grand feu enamel, and titanium for bridges is worth a kudos, or two.

The asymmetric design, carried out to its maximum, but it is curiously harmonious. And the final finishing of all elements, from case, dial, hands to the movement is beyond reproach. The watch exudes a effortless beauty like no other.

 

On the wrist, the 1740 First 8 is a handsome watch, asymmetry notwithstanding.

 

Candaux 1740 First 8 Specifications and Price

Movement

  • Gear wheel, wheels and bridges inclined at 3 degrees in relation to the plate (patent-pending design).
  • Manual-winding mechanical movement.
  • Frequency: 21,600 rotations per hour.
  • Number of jewels: 47 semi-brilliant with polished sinks rubies with solid gold settings.
  • Number of parts: 309.
  • Dimensions: 6.20 mm in depth, 35 mm in diameter.
  • Materials: Titanium plate and bridges. Titanium and blued titanium tourbillon cage.
  • Constant device bridge in polished steel.
  • Fine watchmaking workmanship: hand-crafted polished and brushed angles, Côtes du Solliat

Functions and indications

  • Hours and minutes on a separate counter.
  • Grande seconde central
  • Power supply indicator at 12 o’clock.

Technical

    • Single-axe titanium flying tourbillon inclined at 9 o’clock: cage inclined at 3 degrees in relation to the plate, balance inclined at 30 degrees in relation to the cage.
    • Breguet-overcoil spring.

Dial

  • Central background in 5N 18-carat rose gold, grained by hand.
  • 18 carat grey gold and “grand feu” white enamelled hours & minutes micro dial.
  • Black enamel pad-printed numerals.
  • Hand-polished compass points made of 18 carat grey gold.
  • Satin-finished gold flange, cellulose black varnish.

Hands

  • Hours and minutes: “syringe” shape, made of steel, shaped and polished by hand, flame-blued.
  • Central second: made of steel, shaped and polished by hand, flame-blued.
  • Power supply: inverted “syringe” shape, shaped and polished by hand, flame-blued.

Case

  • Asymmetric-shaped.
  • 316L Stainless steel.
  • Diameter: 43 mm.
  • Total thickness: 12.65 mm.
  • Asymmetric, anti-reflective sapphire outer watch face; sapphire back, glass box-shaped.
  • Background clipped with olivette at 6 o’clock.
  • 316L Stainless steel screwed side inserts.
  • 316L Stainless steel asymmetric lugs.
  • Fine watchmaking workmanship: satin-finishing.

Waterproofing

  • Guaranteed waterproof to 30 metres.

Bracelet

  • Integrated in the case.
  • Made of alligator leather, large scales.
  • Entirely hand-made.
  • 316L Stainless steel inserts.

Buckle

  • Pin buckle

Retail price

The First 8 version (rose gold grained dial) – CHF 216’800.- exc VAT.
LA 1740 version (platinum brushed dial) – CHF 206’400.- exc VAT. 
Pre ordered watches can be delivered by the end of 2017.
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