Valbray, an independent watchmaking brand based in Lausanne, began its adventure in 2009 when two passionate people, an engineer and a designer, crossed paths:
Young and talented, Côme de Valbray and Olga Corsini shared a rich experience in the luxury industry, a profound interest for the horological world and the dream to explore their creativity in complete independence. Passionate about photography and optics, subjects of his graduation thesis, Côme, seeing Olga’s designs which were inspired by spiral sea-shells, found a similarity with a diaphragm system. The idea to create playful and interactive timepieces with a modern and timeless design struck his mind.
After a while, the first prototype was realized and the feasibility of the obturator mechanism confirmed. A meeting of chance and the tenacity of research gave life to Valbray…
CÔME DE VALBRAY
He was born in Paris, France, in 1980. Since a very early age, Côme showed a great curiosity for mechanics, cars and planes.
Following his scientific baccalaureate in Paris, he moved to Switzerland to undertake his engineering studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
Having graduated with a major in Microtechnology, he became passionate about modern precision engineering. His interest in designing pieces of high quality stemmed from the influence and experience he gathered with his first employer: Cartier Horlogerie. During this period, he analyzed all the processes of watch manufacturing and came up with a new production organization.
At the end of his mission, he decided to move to the United States to develop his entrepreneurial skills at Harvard University, where he started to shape his dream: offer his creativity and his vision of Horology through his own brand.
She was born in Florence, Italy, in 1979. Since her childhood, Olga showed her inclination to creativity and design.
Following a baccalaureate in literature with a major in jewelry design at the European Institute of Design in Milan, she focused her interest on high-end handicraft and its industrial application. Given her keen interest in jewelry, she joined the creative department of Bulgari in Rome. During this experience, she created an array of unique pieces and worked on the majority of the best selling pieces of the brand.
After several years spent in Rome, she moved to Florence to work for Gucci within the creative department of the jewelry division. In 2007, she was called by Chaumet (LVMH) to work within the luxury brand’s exclusive creative studio of Jewelry and Horology, in Paris.
Her encounter with Côme de Valbray led to the beginning of a new story: The Valbray brand.
The Valbray revolutionary obturator system, that recalls the intensity diaphragms of photography, is a pure example of a contemporary micro-mechanical masterpiece, applied in watchmaking tradition.
Valbray invested more than two years of teamwork to realize it, tackling several challenges. Finally Valbray perfected it and registered its first patent in 2010.
The system is composed of 16 extra thin blades, entirely integrated in a rotating bezel measuring only 45 mm in diameter and 7 mm in width. The diaphragm opens and closes by slowly sliding the blades on each other on a constant and regular circular shape. Protected by three layers of ultra technical coating, they maintain their elasticity and color and resist to rubbing.
At the maximum aperture of the bezel, the blades completely disappear, releasing a different underlying dial measuring 30 mm in diameter.
The bezel is waterproof and requires no button or bar to be operated. The entire system is thoroughly hidden, completely independent of the watch movement and is activated manually by turning the bidirectional bezel with the fingers at 90°.
This innovative system makes the Valbray timepieces interactive and intriguing.
A SINGULAR TEST MACHINE
Valbray guarantees the reliability of the diaphragm system with a test machine specifically developed by its engineers. The engine is able to reproduce the functioning of the system in an indefinite number of times, allowing a real feedback.
Tested over 10’000 cycles of rotations (the swiss “hronographe reliable standards being set ay 5’000) the mechanism is the subject of rigorous controls and continuous improvements.
The bezel of the Oculus V.01 Chrono and the V.02 Grand dateur collection succeeded all the tests and the reliability of both diaphragm systems has been fully certified.
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF VALBRAY SPIRIT
Every aspect of creation is guided by strong values.
Firstly, the interactive technology offers a new way to interact with the watch. Secondly, the contemporary design linking beauty and functionality. Thirdly, the respect for the Swiss watchmaking tradition compels Valbray to choose the best solutions for each operation, both on the technical and aesthetic side.
In line with this philosophy, Valbray remains steadfast in its decision to edit each watch in a limited number of pieces and to select carefully all the materials to ensure an incomparable technical and esthetical result.
For the conception of its aperture system, Valbray draws its inspirations from photography and antitheses. The role of photography is reflected
in the shutter mechanism developed and patented by Valbray, that takes after a circular diaphragm called an “intensity diaphragm”.
Dissimulation and revelation: the diaphragm delivers every time the wonder of a new discovery, as well as the coexistence in humans the desire to keep a secret and feel enjoyment in his revelation. Moreover, this duality also appears through the materials, finishes and shapes used that are all researched and drawn to create a timepiece simple and elegant on the one hand, conceptual and audacious on the other.
The essence of the Valbray style is in the beauty and the revelation of every small component as well as in the harmony of their association…