All mechanical chronograph movements with automatic winding came into being in the late 1960s and early 70s. This was a time when experts had long anticipated the quartz revolution. The very last of these to be made also turned out to be the most well-known and, by far, the most successful chronograph caliber of them all: the Valjoux 7750. It was unveiled on July 1, 1974, at the same time that the first solar cell watch became available in the U.S.A. This was also when the Japanese were producing the first large-series batches of quartz chronographs.
Maybe watches in the Vallée de Joux simply ran differently. This high valley located in Swiss Jura, in the small village of Les Bioux, is where the blank movement factory of Valjoux SA made its home. Already two generations of watchmakers there had been producing very good to exceptional chronograph movements.
All the big name Swiss watch houses purchased their chronograph calibers from Valjoux, and today just the mention of the caliber designations 72, 72c, and 88 will turn collectors heads.
Just after the Second World War, slow beating (18,000 beats per hour) and manual-wind watches were on the way out, although they were still considered luxurious and exclusive. Two competing projects were underway to create the first chronograph movement with automatic winding. On March 1, 1969, Zenith won this very close race by unveiling the ultra-fast swinging (36,000 beats per hour) "El Primero." It edged out the micro-rotor module design from Heuer/Breitling/Büren. Valjoux hadn't so much lost the contest as slept through it. Five years later, when the Valjoux Caliber 7750 debuted, it didn't seem so advanced at first glance. Yet compared to its immediate predecessor models, the new 7750 sparkled with integrated automatic winding as well as numerous innovative solutions that cut production costs while ensuring greater reliability.
The Valjoux 7750 is available with three enhanced finishes in addition to the standard finish: "Elaboré," "Top" and "Chronomètre." The company offers different versions of its chronographs with date (7750 and 7760 with manual winding), the chronographs with full calendar and moon phase (7751 and 7761 with manual winding) as well as the lesser-known automatic chronographs with moon phase (7758) and the manual-wind chronograph without the 12-hour counter (7765).
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