ETA/Valjoux 7751 P1 Prototype

This watch is a very good representative of what the ‘Hayek-plan’ of the early to mid 1980s was all about. The lone-fighter attitude of the family owned watch firms had made place for inter-brand thinking, which speeded up development and production processes. By succeeding in rehabilitating the base of Swiss watch industry with promoting Swatch and thus selling relatively cheap watches in the millions, SMH would be able to start reviving and strengthening the mechanical branch of the Swiss watch industry. One first step towards this mechanical renaissance being the reintroduction of a more complicated version of the very successful Valjoux 7750 movement, the Valjoux 7751 in 1986.

Paradigm Shift

The ‘precision’ centred marketing as a result of the quartz watch developments of the 1960s and 1970s had moved towards ‘storytelling’ and ‘fashion’ centred marketing, based on reinforced market analyses following the introduction of relatively cheap Swatch in 1983. Thanks to Swatch the image of the quartz watch could be shifted from the expensive high-end, hyper precise watch to the affordable ‘fun & fashion’ watch. So towards 1986, thanks to this image shift of the quartz watch and the subsequent liberation from the constraints of ever growing expectancy of maximal possible precision, the high end market opened for the re-introduction of mechanically driven high end watches.

The development of new high end mechanical watches would thus be based on the application of a fashionable design as well as the use of highly complicated mechanical movements to showcase the functional capabilities of a mechanical watch. Hence, wanting to impress the end consumer with a highly complex, automatic movement, the Valjoux 7751 movement with its 11 dial features was introduced in 1986.

ETA/Valjoux 7751 P1 Prototype, 1986 / 87

Prototype category: functional

Description: Stainless steel cased (with gilt accents) automatic prototype. Snap case back with printed case maker ‘Donze – Baume AG VAL 7751, ADB’ with tree logo description in black, covered by transparent protective sticker. Red gasket. Hand engraved prototype production number ‘113-10′. Date adjustment button at ’10’. White dial with black ‘ETA Swiss Technology’ printing. Golden hour markers, black printed minutes and date markers. Golden coloured hour and minute hands, small sub dial hands (black 30 min counter, black 12 hours counter, golden 24h display and seconds hand). Black, central chronograph hand, golden date hand with small crescent tip. Day and month window at ’12’. Moon phase display at ‘6’. Original acrylic crystal. Original stainless steel chronograph pushers, Original stainless steel crown with no logo.

Dimensions: 37.5mm (without crown), lug – lug: 42mm, lug width: 18mm

Movement: Valjoux 7751, unnumbered, unmarked (later versions will be marked VAL 7751, even later ETA 7751)

Additional info: This prototype belongs to the earliest cal. 7751 prototypes of which 113 were made and all were identically cased by Donzé-Baume SA, a small case manufacturer in the Swiss Jura region, which is now part of the Richmond group since 2007. This company has also produced cases for the Omega ‘Speedmaster Professional’ in the 1990s. These functional prototypes are hand engraved on their snap backs with internal reference numbers (113-xx). The version shown here being the 10th of a total of 113 made and the earliest known, numbered 113-10.