Sharing a passion for exploration, maritime adventure, design and the finer things in life, the founders of CHEVALLEY LE BRIS, Laurent Chevalley and Raymond Le Bris, decided to merge their know-how and create high-quality timepieces without compromising on design.
Their backgrounds in the arts, technology, geography and travel create a fascinating mix, which translates into intriguing and bold timepieces that all tell a unique story. Together, they have created a watchmaking brand that is the perfect accompaniment to any adventure that life throws at you.
Starting with the ARMADA Collection, the watches tell a story of the curious and daring spirit it takes to explore and investigate new lands, concepts, ideas and experiences. Like cardinal points, companions on board, the two pieces that make up the ARMADA Collection Tome 1 are inseparable and complementary. They are nestled in a case that is as exclusive as it is pragmatic: a Logbook. A tribute to long-term exploration, this book traces the genesis and creative journey of the collections’ watches.
By offering solid concepts, minimum concessions and giving free rein to their creativity, CHEVALLEY LE BRIS watches are setting the bar for Swiss watchmaking and receiving many positive reviews as a result. FOUR speaks to the creative duo behind the brand to understand more about CHEVALLEY LE BRIS…
Can you tell us about your background?
Raymond Le Bris: I am originally from Paris and have been living in Switzerland for almost 15 years. After my Master’s degree in Geography, I did a PhD in Glaciology at the University of Zurich. I then moved to Geneva, where I worked for the United Nations. In less than two years, I developed an acute form of “international meetingitis”, which pushed me to turn towards something else. I then decided to take an evening design course to clear my head.
Laurent Chevalley: I am a native and resident of Geneva. In parallel to my artistic and sportive activities, I did an apprenticeship as an electrician. Passionate about travel and adventure, I then decided to combine business with pleasure by creating travel books (text, drawings and photos) for adventure and 4×4 magazines. After that, I worked as a photographer and an illustrator before deciding to train as an industrial designer in 2015 at a design school in Geneva. This allowed me to reconnect with my watchmaking, design and creation passions.
How did you meet each other?
RLB: It was during this industrial design training course that we met. I immediately got along well with this guy! A great dreamer and a traveller at the same time. Just like me! We spent a lot of time talking about our respective journeys. Him, in a 4X4 in the desert of Mauritania, through Africa and in Iceland, me on a recumbent bike on the Salar de Uyuni or on a sailboat on the Atlantic. We understood very quickly that we had to make a trip together.
LC: I saw in Raymond the perfect companion. Apart from all his human qualities, we share the same taste for adventure with a capital A, the one we dream of before, during and after, whether human, geographical or creative. We are also very complimentary, and creating with him is a joy.
What was the inspiration for creating CHEVALLEY LE BRIS?
Both: With both of us interested in watches and sharing the same passion for travel and marine adventures, we decided to design a stylish watch inspired by our love for exploration. Finally, we came up with a concept for the watch. Given Laurent’s natural talent for sketching and my advanced skills in 3D design, we combined our knowledge and brought our first product to life. After creating more designs and receiving positive feedback from friends, we decided to launch our namesake label, CHEVALLEY LE BRIS, in 2019.
How have the brand and the collection evolved since you started?
Both: At the beginning of the project, we wanted to create four watches like the four cardinal points, but time caught up with us, and there was no question of rushing the designs to get them out in time. So, we chose to refine these first two watches. Because of its modularity concept, it seemed normal to present two watches and two gussets. We wanted to introduce a general concept. The watch box is actually a real sailor’s logbook explaining textually and graphically the genesis of the collection, as well as a tribute to all our partners. We think this beautiful book will be easy to carry and easily find its place in a nice library on board. The other watches will be released in Tome 2 with, of course, a little surprise…
How long does it take to go from design to creating the products?
Both: Sometimes, it can be quite long, especially for the design process. Since the devil is in the details, there is a lot of back-and-forth between us before we can reproduce what we have in mind or at least be very satisfied with the result. Once this is done, most things rely on our partners to create the final product. Unfortunately, in this post-pandemic epoch, the demand is very high, and every step of the supply chain takes ages at the moment.
In your opinion, what makes CHEVALLEY LE BRIS products different from other watches?
Both: We don’t follow the market or track what sort of style or material is popular at any given time. We do things our way and are dedicated to creating watches that translate our love for the nautical world and evoke the spirit of exploration in us all.
How would you describe CHEVALLEY LE BRIS watches?
Both: Definitely a fine Swiss-made Haute Horlogerie timepiece. We partnered with the renowned watchmaker Emmanuel Bouchet who created the Opus 12 for Harry Winston and the Complication One for his own brand. We use beautiful Vaucher Manufacture movements to animate our watches and collaborate with local artisans. In fact, our watches are 100% Swiss-made.
Do you have a signature style?
Both: We have the clasp system and the “Circles of Time” (the three circular hands second-minute- hour) that we specifically developed for this ARMADA Collection. We also enjoy playing with different materials. However, as watch designers, we want to feel free to explore all kinds of territories and create things we love, no matter the trends. In fact, our next watches could be radically different!
How important is it for you to champion local artisans, craftsmen and components?
Both: CHEVALLEY LE BRIS is a Geneva-based watch brand. We are in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry, and it is a chance for us to be surrounded by many talented and skilful people. For example, we collaborated with the marquetry artist Bastien Chevalier, who worked among others for Vacheron Constantin, to create the wooden part of our watch dials. For us, it is imperative to work with local craftsmen. We do believe that it empowers this watchmaking ecosystem and, in turn, contributes to maintaining this secular Swiss savoir-faire.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Both: For this ARMADA Collection, we wanted a project based on this spirit of adventure that drives us both, something that resembled us; an ambitious and qualitative project, but above all, a sort of ode to freedom and wide-open spaces. A classic wooden sail yacht is a perfect example of this spirit, and that is precisely what we wanted to transpose into the design of our watches.
Do you have a favourite timepiece that you have always admired?
Both: Very difficult question! Maybe the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the TAG Monaco or the Urwerk UR111C. But it is almost impossible to choose. In fact, in this world, there is literally a watch for any taste and any mood!
What have you been working on recently, and what’s next for CHEVALLEY LE BRIS?
Both: We have just presented our concept at the Time to Watches exhibition in Geneva last April. The feedback we have received is highly encouraging and confirms the design choices and partnerships we have made. We are now working on the Tome 2, which will present the following two watches of the ARMADA Collection. The designs are done, and the prototypes are under construction. In parallel, we are also designing a women’s watches collection, which we are very excited about.
To learn more about the ARMADA COLLECTION, click on the link or go to https://chevalleylebris.com/