Leonidas Triple Date Chronograph 18ct Pink Gold 1952

£6,950

100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Inspected, Serviced & Guaranteed

A Very Lightly Used and Carefully Owned Example

Very Clean, Original Silver-White Three Register Dial

Very Rare, Immaculate, 18ct Pink Gold, Triple Date Chronograph

Large 18ct Pink Gold 35mm Diameter Case, Excluding the Original Crown

Spectacular Leonidas Chronograph Movement, Serviced and Running Perfectly

New, High Quality Green & White Strap with Plated Buckle.

Hardwood Mahogany Presentation Box Included

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

VGW Reference: LE1080
Price £6,950

£6,950

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Leonidas

Chronograph manufacture has always been a highly specialist field of watchmaking, requiring a vast amount of technical research and development, and consequent expense, when compared with traditional watchmaking. Along with Lemania, Valjoux, and Landeron, Leonidas is one of the four key Swiss manufacturers of chronograph movements, on which all of the more famous Swiss manufacturers have depended, at some point, to fit into ‘their’ chronographs. The background and relationships surrounding these four companies, along with their links with each of the major Swiss watch brands are almost as complicated as the movements themselves.

The Leonidas Watch Company was formed by Julien Bourquin at Saint-Imier, Switzerland in 1841 and produced good quality affordable watches as the mainstay of production. However Borquin himself developed an intense interest in the technology of measuring short intervals of time and introduced this aspect of watchmaking to the company. In 1914 Leonidas was purchased by Constant Jeanneret-Droz. Constant Jeanneret-Droz, in turn, was the son of Jules Frédéric Jeanneret, the founder of renowned chronograph èbauche maker Excelsior Park. With an already-strong background in producing chronographs, Leonidas continued to produce chronographs and complicated wristwatches under its own name throughout the 20th century, supplying watches to the militaries of the Central and Axis powers during both World Wars.

In 1960, Leonidas merged with Heuer, creating the largest manufacturer of stopwatches and chronographs in Switzerland and establishing Heuer-Leonidas as one of the biggest and most influential watch brands in the world.

During the 1980s, even Heuer-Leonidas came under increasing pressure to compete with the influx of cheaper quartz models from China. The brand’s reluctance to compromise quality over price, saw Heuer-Leonidas become Tag-Heuer with the Leonidas brand falling from grace. However, in 2015 Leonidas returned to chronograph manufacture with its model 5024, its first stand-alone model since falling victim to the quartz crisis some 50 years earlier.

What Makes This Watch Special

As mentioned above, chronograph movement manufacture is a much greater technical challenge compared with traditional watchmaking. So much so, even the largest watch manufacturers would typically leave this to the specialists with proven success in this area. A cursory glance inside the case-back of any chronograph listed on this website will show, even to the newcomer, how complicated these movements are when compared with a time-only watch.

A chronograph function, along with any additional function added to a standard watch movement, such as a date function, or self-winding mechanism, is referred to as a ‘complication’. So date, day-date, and triple-date functions are also ‘complications’, each more sophisticated than the other. A triple-date movement has a dial showing the day of the week, the date and the month, but is actually a relatively simple complication compared to a chronograph. However, when combined with a chronograph movement, such as in the watch we see here, this leads to significant technical challenges in its design and manufacture.

Even though these were popular watches during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, only a very small number of watchmakers actually made triple-date chronograph movements –  notably Valjoux and Leonidas, although seldom under their own name.

Despite their popularity, this rapidly began to dwindle through the successive decades. A hunt through the more modern catalogues reveals there remained only a few players from the 1970s onwards. Notably Zenith maintained the complication in its Chronomaster line, which eventually evolved into an ‘annual calendar’. Other brands like Ulysse Nardin, Blancpain, and of course Patek Philippe with its reference 5960 also went down the rabbit hole of ‘annual calendar chronographs’. However, this pulled the complication out of the affordable range for most of the buying public.

To examine a nice example of one of these super-complications still working perfectly from a lifetime ago, really does lead to some serious head-scratching. How did they do this? How does even a simple time-only watch, made so many years ago, still work accurately and reliably, day in day out and year after year, after seven decades? So a movement this clever really is impressive when found, as here, in tip-top condition and working perfectly.

These are not only fascinating pieces, but truly miracles of micro-engineering. Perhaps the triple-date chronograph of the 1950s may be considered the equivalent of a MacBook, or the highly advanced portable computer most of us carry in our pockets today in the form of a smartphone.  Well yes, perhaps, except these were frighteningly expensive when new. Indeed this 18ct pink gold Leonidas example would have cost as much as a luxury car.

The Movement

Firstly, we would like to state the obvious. Condition is everything when buying a vintage watch, so we must emphasise and underline the importance of this when considering a Triple Date Chronograph, and buying the best one can find. With such a complicated watch, it is essential the movement has been properly maintained. So if you happen to come across a cheap one, don’t even think about it as there is bound to be a good reason for this.  It is also important to buy from someone who can and will, maintain your watch properly for you in the future.

This movement carries the following complications; 2-Button, 9-Column Chronograph, Chronograph, Column-Wheel Chronograph, Date, Day, Month, Quick Date Correction, Quick Day Correction and Quick Month Correction.

A Column-Wheel Chronograph movement offers a more precise feel and requires a great deal more skill and patience to create them. It needs to be expertly hand-finished to remove burring and ensure it meets tolerance. The very best chronograph movements have them—for example Patek Philippe’s CH 29-535 PS and A. Lange & Söhne’s L951.5—wearing them as badges of excellence and offering the precision feel, expected from such high-end pieces.

This watch has been serviced and properly maintained. It is running accurately and reliably, with all its functions working perfectly.

As can be seen, it is correctly signed ‘Leonidas’ and its condition is quite remarkable with all the metalwork bright and with no signs of tarnishing.

Due to the expense involved in its design and manufacture, Leonidas partnered with Valjoux to produce this movement, so it is actually based on the Valjoux 23/72 family.

To give it its full name, the Valjoux 72c VZHC (“Valjoux Zähler Heure Calendrier”), is a “triple date” hand-winding chronograph movement in the Valjoux 72 family. Cal. 72C was introduced around 1946 and produced through 1974. The Calibre Valjoux 723 is similar. The Calibre Valjoux 88 adds a moonphase disc at 6:00. The Calibre 72C was replaced by the Calibre Valjoux 730 in the 1970s.

It is said that only about 1,300 examples of the Calibre 72c were produced, far fewer than the similar full-calendar Calibre 88. The Valjoux 23C and 72c are almost identical, except that the latter adds a 12 hour counter at 6:00 on the dial. This is, therefore, a Valjoux 72C movement. The Valjoux 72c was used by many brands, notably including Baume & Mercier, Bovet, Breguet, Breitling, Girard-Perregaux, Heuer, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Ulysse Nardin, and Universal Genève.

Following its overhaul and service by our vintage complications, specialist watchmaker, the movement is running perfectly, having been calibrated and timed at +6 seconds per day, which is truly outstanding for a watch of this age. The watch also has a runtime of 48 hours from its fully wound state, which shows the movement is particularly strong and running well within expected parameters.

The operation of the chronograph and triple date functions has been thoroughly tested and these operate very smoothly and efficiently – exactly as they should.

This watch movement is now ready for many more decades of faithful service. We therefore have no hesitation in offering this watch with our 12-month warranty and will be more than happy to assist with servicing in the future.

*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.

The Dial

The wonderful silver-white dial is clear, concise and quite uncluttered, considering it has the capability of imparting so much information.

Pink gilt sunken stud hour indices are topped with a black outlined ’12’. These are matched by the original pink gilt ‘Leaf’ hands. Rotating around the centre of the dial is also a very long pink gilt chronograph seconds hand and a red ‘date’ hand with a semicircle at its end which frames the date. All the hands on this watch are original to this watch and are in outstanding original condition.

We think the combination of pink gilt, over silver-white, with pink gilt hands, red date hand and blue outer date ring all work wonderfully against the 18ct pink gold case.

During the operation of the chronograph, the right-hand register measures elapsed minutes up to 30 minutes, while the bottom register measures elapsed hours, up to 12, and the left-hand register counts constant running seconds, independent of the chronograph function.

Please note, as with all chronographs, the chronograph function should not be left running when not in use as this causes unnecessary wear on the chronograph movement.

The dial carries the classic triple date design, to which most of the top watch houses adhere. We are great admirers of this dial design as it is symmetrical, neat and attractive, yet it manages to convey so much!

Setting the day, date and month of this watch is very simple and straightforward. Setting the day of the week is done first. This is achieved by rotating the hands until the correct day is shown. The month is then set via a small pusher on the edge of the case at 10 o’clock and the date is then set via a pusher at 4 o’clock. This can easily be done with the edge on one’s thumbnail moving the pusher in towards the centre of the watch.

An important point to remember is never to advance any of these functions while the hour hand is anywhere close to the number 12 as this can harm the movement. It is therefore advisable to set the hands to, say, 6:30 before operating any of the pushers. Another point to note is that the month does not auto-advance on the watches at the end of each month. This is done manually using the pusher. In practice, setting the watch is easier than it sounds. As long as one remembers the above points and the watch is treated with the care it deserves, it will perform faithfully and reliably.

This is the original dial which is in remarkable condition, although it does show some slight signs of ageing in the form of some very gentle and even fading and some very light freckling, only visible under a loupe. We think the dial may have been subject to restoration at some point, many years ago, although it is quite possible this could be an unrestored and untouched dial.  Given the condition of the watch case and movement, it is quite possible this watch has been kept in a dry dark place all its life and therefore the dial may be totally original and untouched.

The Watch Case

The totally original, heavy 18ct pink gold case measures 35mm in diameter, excluding the crown. The case is of a heavy three-piece design with a press-fit case-back and carries attractive facetted lugs. The overall impression is of a classic late 1940s design. It is solid, elegant and of obvious very high quality.

Pink gold, as opposed to yellow gold cased watches, are considerably rarer and therefore command a premium, so it is nice to find an example in such good condition. This watch has obviously seen some use over the past 70 years and so the case is not immaculate, but it is in very good original condition, just showing some light nicks and scratches commensurate with age. Please take a good look at the photographs to make your own assessment, but we would describe the watch case as being in good honest original, unrestored condition, just how many collectors prefer to see these watches. However, if after purchasing the watch, you would like us to fully restore the case, to bring it back to its original condition, we will be happy to do this at our cost price.

This watch case has been carefully inspected for fatigue marks and there are none. It is very rigid and the case-back and bezel are a nice tight fit. It is of full thickness and has never been inscribed.

Inside the case-back all is correct and as expected, properly signed ‘Lemania’ with Swiss Geneva 18ct hallmarks and the makers stamp. The case carries an external serial number 492607.

As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Strap and Buckle

The strap fitted is a new green and white strap with a plated buckle. We feel this matches the pink gold case nicely and lifts the watch. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry Tan, Conker, Dark Brown and Black in stock and in plain padded leather, or crocodile skin or lizard skin. For a wider selection, please take a look at the wonderful choice of 18mm straps offered by our suppliers, Watch Obsession. We will be pleased to order and fit the strap of your choice, within 24 – 48 hours.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with this watch, the numbers and markings on the watch are all correct, dating the watch to circa 1952.

A detailed written receipt with 12 months’ warranty* and a separate insurance valuation for the replacement value will be provided at the time of sale, along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If at any time, this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.

A high quality hardwood presentation box is included in the sale, as shown.

In Conclusion

A unique example of a fascinating timepiece which will undoubtedly make an excellent financial investment, as well as be something wonderful to wear, treasure and enjoy! It could make a practical watch for regular or occasional use, as you wish and if it continues to be well cared for and regularly serviced, it will provide dependable service for many decades to come.

This watch carries a great deal more style, individuality and panache than a new watch and to buy the same quality today would be difficult, at 4 or 5 times the price.

Whichever way you may wish to view this watch, as each year goes by and the world market grows ever larger, the limited supply and high demand for the finest vintage gold watches means prices will inevitably climb ever higher!

A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before then restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post-sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be good value and very fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.

We are happy to accept payment via PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you.

If you have any questions please call: 0207 727 7095 or if calling from overseas: +44 207 727 7095.

Please note, we also welcome part exchanges.

Please take a look at our other vintage gold watches.

Thank you.