Crazy about watches and cars, Adrien Lallemand has been a watchmaker at Romain Rea for more than 10 years, at only 30 years old; but as it is commonly acknowledged “a person’s worth is not measured in years”. It is with his unique caustic humour and conciseness that he shares with us his career and the story behind his timepiece.
What was your first watch?
A Tissot. I was 15 years old when my parents offered to give me a wristwatch and I chose a self-winding Tissot Le Locle watch. However, the very first watch I was able to buy was a stainless steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date reference 1501, when I was 17.
What brought you to watchmaking?
Ironically, I didn’t like watches at first. One day, my father showed me a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date in a watchmaker’s shop window and said: “This is the watch you get when you succeed”. What struck me was the price of this watch (17,000€ at the time). So I tried to understand why it was so expensive. In the end, I plunged into this universe, then I understood that behind the object, there is a century-old know-how. Finally, watchmaking became a real passion, almost an obsession. For example, I used to spend every Saturday in Paris to try out every possible wristwatch from every shop, both new and vintage. That’s why I decided to study watchmaking, which I did at the Lycée Diderot.
How did you meet Romain Rea?
I was 16 years old when I met Romain Rea. I wanted to buy him a watch. We’ve been getting along well with each other and finally I went back to work for him, very quickly by doing my first internships in his shop on 26 rue du Bac.
Which brand do you admire the most?
Lange and Söhne, for the purity of their lines and the absolute refinement of their movement. For example, the 1815 model, which follows the tradition of the Manufacture, is characterised by its simplicity and perfect balance.
What is the watch you are wearing at the moment?
A Zenith El Primero calibre 3019 PHC. It is the very first Zenith El primero, produced in 1969.
What is the history of this watch?
It is the first self-winding movement with a central rotor made for a chronograph. A movement that offers 36,000 vibrations per hour, twice as many as the caliber 11, giving it remarkable regularity and accuracy, and making it possible to calculate to a tenth of a second. In this case, it is the first series, as there were two different cases. I chose the one which, in my opinion, is the most elegant: the finest and purest. It’s a typical model from the late 1960s, which reflects its era, the golden age of motor sport competitions. My favourite period for watches and cars! But you can notice that the shape of the case is shifting towards the Seventies with slightly more angular shapes.
Why did you choose this one?
Because this model is a real milestone in the history of watchmaking – that’s why it’s a good investment. It represents a giant step forward in the evolution of technology. Today the most popular watches, whatever the brand, are automatic steel chronographs. It is an invention that revolutionizes the daily life of many users.