Does the name ring a bell? If you consider yourself a true fan of vintage watches, perhaps it should! It’s a classic watch brand born in the mid-1930s in France and deceased along with many of its contemporaries in the early ’70s, yet another victim of the Quartz Crisis. But don’t break out the Kleenex just yet — this is not a sad tale. The brand was brought back to life by Tom Van Wijlick in 2014 — 80 years after it was originally founded. Today, after a number of successful Kickstarter campaigns, the brand continues to gain pace and impress with its ambition.

As I said before, this is no tragic tale, but rather a comeback story. Stewards of the brand since its return in 2014, the Van Wijlick family is proud to keep this brand alive. After first learning of the brand from a vintage watch being auctioned, Tom and Evelyne were captivated. They did their research and found the brand laying dormant, ready for someone to come along and resurrect it. The two were responsible for the rebirth of Airain and the Type 20, so we can trust the brand to be in good hands as it embarks into its most ambitious project yet.

By the community, for the community

Together, the two brands exist under the Compagnie des Montres Lebois & Cie (CDMLEC) brand. Its ambition is to compete with larger watch brands out there in adopting the cooperative thinking of luxury conglomerates and combining it with the flexibility of a smaller brand. This results in the brands being able to produce high-quality products at a lower cost. Another key part of the strategy revolves around the involvement of the community, members of which are asked to participate in the process of designing and creating the end product. This is done through the CoLAB site, where both Airain and Lebois & Co have invited fans of the brands to contribute ideas and vote on how they will shape the watches created.


The latest effort sees Lebois & Co releasing a vintage-inspired model under the Heritage Chronograph name. This latest stage puts on display a preview of the final designs as voted on by the community, and offers some exciting updates on everything from case finishing to the buckle that will be used for the straps. For the first time, high-quality 3D renderings of the four watches have also been made available. They reveal how the watches that will be produced shortly will look. As you can see, a cream dial, a sector dial, and two salmon-dialed models will be included in the lineup.

The Lebois & Co Heritage Chronograph

All four models with their unique strap pairings will come with their very own “digital twin”. It’s a blockchain digital identity of each individual watch, made possible by the brand’s collaboration with Adresta AG. This serves as proof that you have purchased a genuine product — a digital certificate of authenticity, if you will. Though undeniably interesting due to the link with the hot blockchain technology, most of us will still only be interested in the watches themselves. But kudos to CDMLEC for keeping an eye on innovation, and paving the way to what may well be the future in terms of watch authentication and record-keeping. So, what’s on offer when it comes to the watches themselves? Let’s have a look.

For the €2193 pre-order price, one of these four watches can be yours. They feature a 39mm case and the same La Joux-Perret movement found in the Airain Type 20 released earlier this year. Beautifully decorated and visible through the sapphire case back, this is a movement worth seeing. I should mention that it was decided by the community that the case back will indeed be an open one. The hand-wound movement provides 60 hours of power reserve and is adjusted to five positions. Coupled with sharp steel cases, stunning dials, and domed AR-coated sapphire crystals, these watches promise to be stunning. Having had hands-on experience with the Airain chronograph, my expectations are high indeed.

Final thoughts

If everything you have heard here today so far sounds interesting, then I have good news for you. Today, the first round of pre-orders is officially open for the Lebois & Co Heritage Chronograph. This means that if you want to get your hands on one, you have a chance. The second round of pre-orders will follow in February 2022. This will take place once the prototypes have been created and evaluated in January.

If you want to follow the project more closely, head over to the brand’s website and sign up. When you do, you’ll receive news and updates via e-mail, and you will be able to vote in the coming stages.