Watch aficionados always look for a brand’s heritage. And like the twists and turns of the watch industry, many brands that were important in the 18th century spent periods of dormancy. One such brand is L. Leroy, a prime purveyor of clocks and carriage clocks for officers of various Napoleonic campaigns. Later the house opened in London, and in 1854 was able to authenticate itself as a supplier of timekeeping for Britain’s monarchy.
Fast forward to 1984, when production stopped completely. Then in 1988 the brand was sold, but the buyer never was able to restart it. In 2004 Festina Group owner Miguel Rodriguez acquired L. Leroy and he assigned Guillaume Tripet to oversee its resurrection.
During an interview with Elite Traveler at Baselworld2013 Tripet says he spent several years to “study the archives” and “re-start the workshop in France.”
The CEO noted, “France is a country of luxury” and as of last year L. Leroy returned to Paris being sold on Place Vendome. Distribution in China, Hong Kong and Macau opened last year and some 100 watches were delivered. This year Tripet expects L. Leroy to produce 300 pieces and next year the goal is 700. He eventually sees production climbing to about 1,000 pieces, but very much wants to keep the house niche.
Starting this fall Tripet is hoping to have L. Leroy watches sold in the U.S. and he is targeting New York and the West Coast. Prices range from $31,000 to $200,000 and there is no steel, only precious metals.
Tripet is passionate about the Franco-Swiss watch industry, having grown up on the border in Le Locle (home to Zenith, Ulysse Nardin, Christophe Claret, Vulcain) and then studied jewelry design in neighboring La Chaux-de-Fonds (Girard-Perregaux, Rolex, Cartier high watch making, Graham, Arnold, Corum, Jaquet-Droz, Gruebel Forsey all have production in the city). His watch career has included stops at Audemars Piguet, Omega and Perrelet, also owned by Rodriguez.
Like Napoleon’s officers, Tripet seems ready for campaigns abroad accompanied by L. Leroy creations.