Julien Coudray 1518 : Artistic crafts incubator

However small its production, a Manufacture (in the true Swiss watch industry sense of the term) that makes all its movements in gold and platinum is bound to attract notice. That of Julien Coudray 1518 in Le Locle commands respect, while also surprising observers through the original approach of the creative talent behind it, Fabien Lamarche. His offbeat approach is reflected in the humanoid sci-fi sculptures inspired by Predator at one end of the first-floor corridor, which he first imagined as paintings into which he embedded watch components. Still located in the premises he occupied when he launched into the entrepreneurial adventure in 1997, he has simply increased the space actually used by 200, both literally and figuratively assimilating various skills in step with his expansion. From his 12 sq.m. tampography (pad printing) office that he initially made available to customer brands, in 2009 he took over the full 2,500 sq.m. available at no. 6, Rue de la Jaluse, to set up IMH SA (Innovations Manufactures Horlogères). As mentioned on the framed SGS certificate perched on a showroom cabinet, 46 different skills are mastered here. Of the 44 people employed on the two floors of the Manufacture, 40 are involved in production. IMH places this expertise at the disposal of watch brands which order components or complete movements, prototypes as well as watch exterior components.
Over the past 25 years, Fabien Lamarche has shown a determination to learn all the professions currently exercised on behalf of third parties, and of course of his own brand, Julien Coudray 1518. He makes a point of perpetuating this expertise by placing teams of two people in each job. Everything is developed
and produced in-house, from the technical department through to finishing and from screws to the exclusive Julien Coudray wheels with special-shaped spokes. The set of tungsten carbide tools required for each model is developed on-site, including for example hundreds of milling cutters for each component. The Julien Coudray unit encapsulates the quintessence of this perfectionist quest. Enamelling a 1 mm thick part is no pipedream here. Devoting three days to the bridge of a tourbillon carriage, or ten operations to a single dial hour-markers, are all part of a day’s job. Cutting millimetre-thick parts on historical machines improved by in-house developed and more modern technologies is all part of a contagious enthusiasm shared by each department.



Sculpting an oscillating weight shaped like the crossed daggers of Francis the 1st on a fleur de lys is a natural expression of the magical atmosphere pervading these premises. Fabien Lamarche is everywhere at once, serving as both the driving force and a link in the chain – such as by applying the laser weldings
in gold wire in the same colour as the dial, or designing patented hands sweeping across the grand feu enamel dial, or an also patented folding clasp. Not content with having already developed 10 calibres for Julien Coudray (of which four currently equip the brand’s first models), he has defined 26 in all and is
preparing to present the first presentation box for hand-wound watches, featuring automatic touch-screen adjustment to all 24 time zones and ultra-precise atomic clock-benchmarked setting. In a nutshell, this creative talent has invented a whole new approach to made-to-measure horology.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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