The Valjoux 7750 and its Creator A True Horological Hero
Edmund Capt sounds like the perfect name for a hero and to us; Edmund certainly is a horological hero. For without his skills and foresight in equal measure, we would not be able to today enjoy the charms of mechanical chronographs at such accessible prices. Edmund was the creator and indeed the saviour of the legendary Valjoux 7750 movement.
But let’s step back in time for a moment, for a short history of how this movement came about.
In the late 60’s the self-winding chronograph watch was a revelation. Heuer, Breitling, Buren, Zenith and others had successfully introduced ‘automatic’ chronographs and the movement maker Valjoux (short for Vallee de Joux), once a supplier of chronograph movements to Rolex, were looking to develop their own in-house automatic chronographs. Valjoux had recently been joined by a young engineer and ex Rolex watchmaker Edmund Capt and it was he who was given the task of creating a practical and reliable automatic chronograph.
As a base Edmund utilised the architecture of the Venus 188, a venerable hand wound chronograph from the famous, but by the 60’s defunct movement maker, Venus.
Capt was able to utilise a new and revolutionary tool that was to change all our lives, the computer. There was a computer available for use an hour away in the town of Neuchatel and Capt paid frequent visits in order to use this computer to simulate his components and the movement’s theoretical behaviour and functions.
The 7750 that emerged from his endeavours was one of the first movements designed using a computer. From a manufacturing standpoint, the 7750’s use of cams instead of the traditional column wheel for the chronograph functions created a reliable, robust and easy to manufacture chronograph movement and was the perfect platform on which to adapt and create interesting complications (more of this later).
But just as the use of the computer was a technological revolution there was another revolution on the way that would threaten the 7750 and the whole of the Swiss watchmaking industry. The arrival of quartz.
Deliveries of the 7750 began in 1972 and sales grew in 1973, but the arrival of quartz movements during the same period meant that by 1975, sales were in sharp decline. At this point Valjoux decided to stop production of the 7750 entirely and bizarrely gave Capt the instruction to destroy all the tooling and drawings. With great foresight Capt ignored these instructions and carefully stored all of the essential pieces. He could just not believe that there was no future in mechanical chronographs. What a hero!
As the 80’s dawned, the demand for automatic watches was on the increase and by 1985 Valjoux, (now owned by the ETA group) was ready to reintroduce an automatic chronograph. Capt was ready.
Of course as we say ‘the rest is history’ and the legacy of the 7750 and Capt’s efforts to create and rescue the movement are more relevant than ever before. Today, the 7750 is used by many, many watchmakers.
Here at Page and Cooper, our chronograph watchmakers use the 7750 extensively and some feature very extensive and intriguing in-house modifications.
Sinn with their SZ01 features a jump 60-minute stopwatch hand in the centre of the dial. This allows owners to take accurate stop times even more quickly and simply. The Sinn SZ02 has an off-centre 60-minute counter, which allows direct reading of the minute’s right through from 0 to 60 minutes, meaning that the hour counter only needs to be read as full hours. And of course there is Sinn’s famous DIAPAL technology with Ar-Dehumidifying. The concept of DIAPAL Technology uses pairs of materials that work without lubrication and with minimal friction, ensuring impressive long-term accuracy.
Muhle Glashutte have their own 7750 variation, the MU 9408. The MU 9408 features in-house fine regulation, balance clock, automatic bridge and rotor and the classic ‘Glashutte’ 3/4 plate with removable escape wheel bridge with red jewel and two blued screws. Beautiful and practical because the escape wheel and the entire escapement can be removed and cleaned easily. Stunning!
Damasko also have their own Si modifications with EPS spring, ceramic rotor and bearings and in-house regulation to COSC equivalents.
But in light of this article, let’s not diminish the standard 7750 which powers many of our most accessible chronographs.
Fine examples are the Sinn 103 and 358 with acrylic crystals (so full of character). They offer superb value as do the Damasko DC56 and DC66 with their ice hardened stainless steel cases. In our opinion even the more expensive modifications are fabulous value considering the fine workmanship and rarity they offer.
There has never been a better time to buy a superb chronograph powered by a legendary Swiss movement, but let us just stress this fact. We don’t think it will be long before prices will have to rise! We ourselves have just added a Sinn 140A to our own collection as well as a Damasko DC66 and a Sinn 103.
If, like Edmund Capt, you truly want a chronograph built to stand the test of time, then please do contact us and we will be happy to run thorough the superb range of options available to you.