We used to know yogurt with "real pieces of fruit" in it, now you can afford a watch with a real piece of Aston Martin DB5 inside. Where many watch brands flirt with the automobile, through partnerships or more or less discreet design winks, Louis Jalaber, 27, and Simon Szleper, 25, a Franco-Belgian duo, merge these two universes in the first degree with their Atelier Jalaper brand, a portmanteau of their two names.
First day at ESCP Europe business school for Louis and Simon. Each compliments the other's watch, and they realize that they have a common passion: watchmaking. In class, they dream of starting their own brand, creating a community around them and on social media.
" In six months, just with our concept, we had built an active community on Instagram, explains Simon, so we shortlisted models for which we would like to insert a part in our watches, and they are the ones who chose the Aston Martin DB5 ". The English beauty wins against AC Cobra, Ferrari F40 and Jaguar E-Type.
The Atelier Jalaper ecosystem
It remains to find a designer. For this, Atelier Jalaper is launching a competition in several industrial design schools. Louis remembers having " shared a very open brief, so that designers let their imaginations speak for themselves ". That's what the winner, Constantin Sohier, an automotive design regular, did. He notably worked for Land Rover, Jaguar, Renault and Volkswagen. " After selecting Corentin, we worked with him for a year, to finalize the design »Explains Louis.
The final result is a subtle nod to the automotive world in general, and to the DB5 in particular. The typography is reminiscent of the tachometer, the grille is that of the radiator grille and the dial takes up the lines of the legendary air inlet of James Bond's car in Goldfinger.
To manufacture their watch, Louis Jalaber and Simon Szleper went to La Chaux-de-Fonds, no more and no less. After several refusals, they manage to convince Stephane Muller, a big name in Swiss watchmaking, to follow them in this adventure, despite the difficulty of cutting dials in an aluminum cover, and the small volume to manufacture (500 pieces). .
Once again, the original concept and the enthusiasm of the young bosses hit the nail on the head. Two enthusiasts who dream of launching their brand, a talented automotive designer, a prestigious watchmaker: the Atelier Jalaper ecosystem was born.
Mechanical watches between € 800 and € 1150
Then comes the crowdfunding campaign, in August 2019, in order to be able to launch the first batch. " We had two goals, says Louis, test the idea, first, see if people were receptive on a larger scale than on our social networks, then raise funds to start production. "
Paris succeeds. Orders are pouring in from all over the world, from New Zealand to Mexico, via France and Belgium, the two countries of origin of the Brussels-based brand, and deliveries are completed last June. Today Atelier Jalaper has built up a stock for new customers, and has just bought a new DB5 cover to pick up new dials, and is just waiting for authentication from Aston Martin.
The Atelier Jalaper collection is, for the moment, made up of 4 models. Two "date" and two "day-date", in steel or black PVD. They are powered by Miyota 42-hour movements, in order to offer mechanical watches, assembled in Switzerland, between € 800 and € 1,150.
Soon the Miura?
Four references which will soon see the arrival of new creations. Atelier Jalaper is already thinking about the next collection, still around the same concept. While the AC Cobra, E-Type and F40 are still in the running, Louis tells us of his desire to add the Lamborghini Miura to the list that will be submitted to fans of the brand.
Sacrilege, waste? Simon replies: " The first hood was an English garage repairing a DB5 body, and the owner of the car preferred to replace the original hood with a new one, custom made by Aston Martin. ". Rather than abandoning a piece of automotive legend in a garage, you might as well wear it on your wrist …