What kind of company is Nouvelle Lemania? A history guide to the strongest chronograph movement company!

Click here to see more details about Lemania in the video.

If you know about Lemania, you can call yourself a vintage watch enthusiast.

So, today's story is

"What kind of company is Lemania? Let me explain its history."

I would like to talk about this.

So let's get started.

Divided into five parts

1. A simple explanation of the appeal of Lemania and the beginning of Lemania

2. Lemania from the British perspective

3. Lemania as a movement manufacturer

4. Lemania and the Quartz Crisis

5. From Nouvelle Lemania to "Manufacture Breguet"

It is as follows.

A super simple explanation of the history and greatness of Lemania

Lemania is a Swiss watch and movement manufacturer.

Lemania is not well known among the general public, but it is famous among watch enthusiasts as a ``hidden gem'' brand.

To give you an idea of ​​how popular it is as a brand, for example, if we look at its movements, it is used by the world's three major watch brands, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet, and it has even been installed in Omega's Moonwatch, reaching the surface of the moon.

When it comes to finished watches, Lemania makes precision military chronographs, and has been supplying watches to the British Ministry of Defence for many years.

The precision and reliability of the movement allows it to be supplied to the world's three major watch brands and the British military.

For these reasons, we believe that it was a brand with similar characteristics to Jaeger-LeCoultre, a brand that is easy for everyone to imagine.

Although Lemania has such a glorious history, the company name no longer exists.

I would like to explain the strange fate of Lemania from the perspectives of both a movement manufacturer and a military chronograph.

The beginning of Lemania

Lemania Advertising

First, a little bit about the history of Lemania.

The history of Lemania began in 1884, when a watchmaker named Alfred Legrand, who had trained at Jaeger-LeCoultre, established a workshop in Le Sentier in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.

To briefly introduce Jaeger-LeCoultre, the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre's watchmaking began with the release of the Reverso in the 1930s, when the company officially started making wristwatches. Until then, the company was more of an embossing company (movement manufacturer).

Therefore, they invented a measuring instrument called a "millionometer" that could measure down to the micron, which made it possible to manufacture precision parts such as gears, which are the key to the movement of watches, with high precision.

Because he had spent some time training at Jaeger-LeCoultre, the company Lemania was also a manufacturer with strengths in movements.

When the company was first founded, it was called "Legrand SA.", but around 1940 it began using the name "Lemania Watch & Co."
Now let's take a look at Lemania as a military brand.

Lemania military watches delivered to the British Army

Lemania Monopusher

Starting from the same 1940s, Lemania focused on the development and manufacturing of movements, and at one point supplied military chronographs to countries such as the UK, Sweden, and South Africa.

This is roughly from the 40's to the early 70's.

The company has had particularly long-standing ties with the British Ministry of Defence, manufacturing chronographs for the Royal Navy and Air Force from the 1940s through to the 1970s.

The company will be delivering push-button chronographs manufactured for the British military from the 1940s through to the 1960s .

Pressing the pusher at 2 o'clock once would start the chronograph, pressing it once more would stop it, and pressing it once more would reset it.

Depending on the destination, such as the Air Force, Naval Air Service, or Nuclear Submarine Unit, the dial colors varied from black, silver, or white, and some cases were made of titanium instead of stainless steel.

These are divided into three series based on era: Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3.

For more information on this Lemania military watch, please see this video.

Now let's take a look at Lemania as an embossing manufacturer.

SSIH – Lemania Omega Tissot Partnership

In 1932, Lemania joined the Omega-Tissot partnership, and the three companies formed the group SSIH.

This is the predecessor company of the current Swatch Group.

Lemania has focused on chronograph movements since its inception, and during this period it also produced a number of chronographs.

Its most famous work is the caliber 2310, developed in 1946.

This movement became the basis for Omega Caliber 321, which was used in the Omega Speedmaster.

As you may already know, the Omega Speedmaster was the watch used in the Apollo Project, an effort by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to send manned spaceflights to the moon.

When Apollo 11 made the first successful moon landing in 1969, the astronauts were wearing Speedmaster watches.

The reason why the Speedmaster was able to perform so well in rigorous durability tests is that Lemania has produced many military watches used in harsh conditions, and the Speedmaster chronograph was developed based on this experience.

This means that Lemania movements have been sent into space, proving that they are robust and sophisticated enough to withstand the harsh conditions on the lunar surface.

However, even though it was equipped with such an amazing movement, it was the Omega Speedmaster that actually made its name, and the reality is that very few people, both then and now, know about Lemania.

Lemania Moon Landing

Lemania and the Quartz Crisis

However, in the 1970s, the introduction of quartz watches by Japan's Seiko overturned the conventional wisdom of the watch industry, causing devastating damage to most Swiss watch manufacturers.

Of course, the SSIH Group's business also deteriorated due to the effects of the Quartz Shock .

Meanwhile, in an effort to compete with cheap quartz watches, Lemania developed the low-cost movement, caliber 5100, and released it in 1974.

This was five years after the start of the automatic chronograph competition in 1969, and compared to leading automatic chronograph manufacturers, the Cal. 5100 was a masterpiece developed in accordance with military procurement standards, and was proven to be extremely sturdy and shock-resistant.

The specifications required by the military were:

1. Automatic (self-winding)

2. 24-hour display

3. 12-hour counter

4. 60-minute counter (center second)

5. Day Date

6. Hack mechanism

7. Power reserve of over 45 hours

8. Daily rate: -2 to 8 seconds

9. Operating environment: -40℃ to 8℃

10. 10 ATM water resistance

11. Equipped with earthquake-resistant devices


This movement was used in military watches by Porsche Design and Tutima, and was delivered to the West German Air Force.

This Lemania Cal. 5100 was also used in many watches sold commercially, but is now out of production.

Now let's take a look at the actual watch.

・Porsche Design

Porsche Design with Lemania Cal.5100


Tutima: Military watch with Lemania movement Cal.5100

・Sinn (for sale) Model 142

Sinn Model 142 with Lemania caliber 5100

The model 142 was the world's first automatic chronograph sent into space.

This was purchased as a commercially available model by German Spacelab astronaut Reinhard Furrer in 1985 during Mission DI, and was brought into space as a chronograph to use on board the station.

The commercially available 142 model was chosen for use in the harsh conditions of space flight.

The matte black case is accented with a red chronograph hand, which is really cool.

The case back is engraved with an engraving commemorating its first use in space.

As mentioned earlier, these watches are equipped with the Lemania Cal. 5100 movement.

Now let's look at the relationship between Piaget, Lemania, and Heuer.

Piaget, Lemania, and Heuer

Lemania Heuer

Lemania was responsible for creating such a masterpiece, but their efforts were in vain due to SSIH's financial crisis, and in 1982 Lemania was sold to the watch manufacturer Piaget Group.

Prior to acquiring Lemania, Piaget had acquired Heuer.

This is the story of Heuer, from the race to develop automatic watches to its acquisition by Piaget. The story is explained in this video, so please take a look if you're interested.

The reason why Piaget was able to make so many acquisitions is because they sensed the coming wave of quartz, focused on quartz watches, and began to manufacture their own quartz movements in-house.

Thus, under Piaget, the relationship between Lemania and Heuer was formed, and Heuer watches began to be equipped with Lemania caliber 5100 movements.

However, in 1985, it was decided that Piaget alone could not support the Heuer brand, so Heuer was sold to a Middle Eastern investor group called TAG and the company name was changed to TAG Heuer.

Similarly, in 1992 Lemania was bought by the Middle Eastern investor group Investcorp.

Gradually, the relationship between TAG Heuer and Lemania faded, and Heuer watches equipped with Lemania movements gradually disappeared from the market.

Now let's take a look at what happened next in Lemania.

Nouvelle Lemania and Breguet

Nouvelle Lemania Factory

At this time, Lemania changed its name to "Nouvelle Lemania" (meaning "New Lemania").

Investcorp had previously acquired Breguet in 1987, creating the Breguet Group.

Nouvelle Lemania thus becomes part of the Breguet Group.

In 1999, Investcorp sold the Breguet Group to the Swatch Group.

The SSIH Group had already changed its name to the Swatch Group by this time.

Lemania thus found itself once again in the same group as its former partners at SSIH, Omega and Tissot.

Swatch stopped supplying the caliber 5100 to anyone outside the group, meaning that watchmakers such as Sinn could no longer use the Nouvelle Lemania movement.

Nouvelle Lemania became a subsidiary of Swatch, but its position overlaps with that of ETA, the movement manufacturer within the group.

Besides, Swatch's goal was to revive the Breguet brand, not to strengthen the movement.

For this reason, Swatch positioned Nouvelle Lemania as "Breguet's exclusive movement division" under the name "Manufacture Breguet", and created the selling point that "Breguet watches are equipped with movements developed in-house."

Lemania Manufacture Breguet Factory

Thus the name "Lemania" disappeared.

However, this tradition continues to be passed down at Manufacture Breguet.

Being placed in Breguet's movement department certainly has a special meaning.

ETA places more emphasis on versatility, while "Manufacture Breguet (Lemania)" is differentiated from movements aimed at high-end watches.

Thus, Lemania, now known as "Manufacture Breguet", continues to produce precision movements for Breguet, one of the world's five great watch brands, from its factory in L'Orient in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.

It is not a glamorous brand, but Lemania has always been among the glamorous brands.

And Lemania was behind those brands!

I think that such a wonderful movement manufacturer is a perfect fit for Lemania.

How much have Lemania watches increased in value?

Finally, let me show you an example. This is a magazine from 25 years ago.

A magazine that tells you the price of a 25-year-old Lemania vintage military watch

The price it was listed for sale there was 130,000 yen.

If you are already familiar with Lemania Military, you will know that there were three models delivered to the British Army, from the first to the third, and even the cheapest one in poor condition costs 500,000 yen, while those in good condition can go for around 1.2 million yen.

That means that even if we look at the lowest price, it has tripled in 25 years.

Unlike Rolex, Lemania watches are not watches that will see a sudden surge in price in the short term, but they are strong enough to continue to increase in price, which means that there are collectors all over the world.