A review of LeJour Rally Monte Carlo chronograph watch

Published on 27 February 2024 at 22:11

If you are my regular visitor and follow my reviews you have for sure noticed that I have mentioned LeJour brand before. Usually I mentioned it when trying to evaluate the price of some other brand's watch as LeJour stood up as one of the cheapest among the Swiss made watches. Yet my reference to LeJour watches was partially unfair or let's at least say unproven as I never had any of LeJour watch models. When in the seriouswatches.com shop I noticed the latest version of the LeJour chronograph model Rally Monte Carlo, with the red dial and black totalizers, I decided that finally the time has come to purchase one LeJour and to evaluate what  I am referring to.

I have no particular knowledge about the company beyond the information that you can get on the brand's official web page.  The collection is interesting, you can find all kinds of watch types, from pilots, divers, chronographs, etc. All watches that I was exploring use one of the Selitta movements. What is a good starting point. By  "exploring" I mean that in some period of time I already had a watch on my bucket list, some of them even in a basket. But due to different reasons at the end I never decided to actually purchase one. As said, until the red Rally Monte Carlo chronograph with reference LJ-RMC-006. So, let's have a look at my very first LeJour watch.

It is actually a bit strange that I decided for this watch as the declared diameter is just 40mm, which is in general my lowest acceptable size. However my idea was that with the chronographs the 40mm diameter should not be problematic, as pushers and crowns always make the watch optically bigger. Well, I almost made a big mistake! The real size is hardly 40mm! 40mm is the diameter between the crown protector and the "bumper" on the opposite side of the case. The black bezel, which makes the optical diameter of the watch, is just 37mm! Luckily the entire case is a kind of a barrel shaped plus L2L is 48mm and all together the watch optically and technically wears as bigger than 40mm diameter watch.

I jumped a bit with the diameter details, let me go back to the beginning.

First impression of the watch is always biased by the package. In this case no complaints at all. Watch box is well made, wooden. Box is also well made inside. Warranty card simple, part of the package is also a cleaning cloth. So quite good and better than expected based on the price.

Then I started discovering the part which was the main reason for the decision to make a purchase - the dial. I was again positively surprised. Horizontal lines in the dial are very well executed, they make the dial very attractive. Black totalizers with concentric circles make a great visual contrast to the main plate. Day and date windows are big, both are easily readable also for an older, visually impaired reading sight. Standard text above and below windows. And just a "Swiss made" at the bottom.

As the hours and minutes are marked just with indexes and small markings, the dial in total looks quite clean, not crowded, despite a relatively small total surface of the dial. I can say that I like it. Index markings are also cut well. All hands are similar to indexes, so no crazy strange shape and color combinations. Very puristic all together. 

Fixed IP black coating steel fixed bezel with brushed lines is a nice visual added value to the total appearance of the watch . To be quite honest, this bezel is a simple shortcut for how the watch can look good and on the other side makes the production cheaper. For the chronograph which is dedicated to car racing it is extremely strange that a rotating bezel with tachymeter scale is not used. We have tons of chronographs where those kinds of bezels are used without any reason and here, where reason is self-explainable, designers omitted it. What is even more strange is the fact that LeJour's first chronograph models (Roadster) were designed with tachymeter (not rotating but fixed) bezel. My guess is that this watch has a fixed non marked bezel due to the "non-round" shape of it.

I also decided to take a closer look at the printed markings on the totalizers as this kind of concentric circles might cause problems. As you can see from the pictures below, no issues whatsoever. The designers have cleverly decided not to pull horizontal lines where the text (LeJour, chronograph automatic, Swiss made) is printed. As those lines are deep (much deeper than circles on totalizers), the text would look ugly.

The crown is signed, screwed in as well as both chronograph pushers. Due to this watch can have 100m water resistance. I have to mention that pushers work correctly only if screws are fully unscrewed. If you unscrew just a bit less, you can press the pusher, you can even hear the "click" as if the chronograph starts, however nothing happens. So, chronograph starts only when pushers are pressed in the fully unscrewed position.

The backplate is the place where LeJour decided to reveal all the information about the watch. The most noticeable is the glass cover, which is covered by the Rally Monte Carlo sticker with two racing cars and checkered flag. It's good that designers were not tempted to put some of those insignia on the dial! The sticker is transparent so Selitta SW500 movement with the rotor signed by LeJour is still seen, but not very clear. Around the glass, on the metal part of the backplate we can see engraved basic technical details - stainless steel case, sapphire glass (with AR coating), WR 100m, reference and serial number. 

After the first general inspection of all stated details I was satisfied. It was finally time to set the bracelet and put the watch on my wrist. Well, my enthusiasm for the watch has step by step dried up. Let me explain why.

Check the picture of the bracelet from the side. Do you see anything unusual? First, ALL links all the way to the end link have removable pins. As the bracelet goes from 22mm lug to 18mm clasp you have to take redundant links wisely as only the first few links are in fact of the same size.  

The second strange thing is the construction of each link which consists of two parts - a base and a "bridge". The construction itself is not so strange, what is strange is that you can dismantle everything and every link has two removable parts. If you accidentally remove wrong pins in the consecutive links, you can not join two links together. 

What is the purpose of this construction is unknown to me. Maybe the production is cheaper if both parts are removable.

Pins are held in the link by the small clamp. If you don't know that (what you can't know before you dismantle the first link) you can easily lose this little clamp and then you are in a big trouble. Without a clamp pin does not stay in the link. So, be very careful how you shorten your bracelet. If you are not experienced in shortening, don't do it. But all being said so far is not my reason for the disappointment. This has yet to follow.

First, even though the bracelet has a butterfly clasp (which is not signed or marked), there are no semi sized links. If you are lucky, the bracelet might fit to your wrist well, if you are not, the fitting is not good. In my case - on a good day I can "survive" without three links, but in general three removed links makes a bracelet just a bit too short. Lugs are 9 mm long so we have quite a difference with one link added... I had to go with just two links removed, what is too big for a pleasant daily wear. But this is not the worst part of the bracelet. The worst parts are the very sharp inner edges of the "bridge" parts. It is funny that bridges are polished (while main parts are brushed), but the edge "under the bridge" is knife edge sharp. If you go over the bracelet from the case towards the clasp, the feeling is smooth. But if you go in the opposite direction then the bracelet scratches your finger on every bridge. 

The outer edges of the links are also not smooth, they are better than the bridge but far from being good.

The end link also does fit perfectly to the case. There is a small step between lug and the end link plus lugs are also a bit longer than an end link. What is very annoying is the fact that the lugs themself are also very sharp so you can again feel the scratching on the finger while passing the end link. It is interesting that in general case edges are done well except the stated inner lug part. But as end link does not fully cover it, that is noticed. So this watch needs a serious upgrade of the final polish of the steel - on the case and on the bracelet. I am sorry to say that the bracelet is on a cheap Chinese level quality finish. And I emphasize cheap Chinese as I have seen plenty of much better bracelets on Chinese watches.

In the next photos you can check how the watch looks on my wrist. As you can see, the bracelet is too long therefore watch dances. As I was not satisfied with the position of the watch on my wrist, I also tried how the watch would look on the leather strap. Unfortunately the bracelet does not have quick release lug bars and the removal of the bracelet (or better say putting back) is not so simple.  

The watch on the strap fits better however at the end I decided to put the bracelet back. I might go for a black strap with the red stitches at the end but at the moment I don't have any of those in 22mm size at home.

After the bracelet disappointment, let's go back to the good things.

I must praise the luminova which is just perfect. It is very bright, visible for a long time. I like the fact that luminous parts are just the ones that need to be luminated - index marks and hands. All together gives a very clear and bright visibility in the dark. 

I also have to point out that the SW500 movement is calibrated very well. Watch runs within +4 sec/daily tolerance. The positional error is almost non existing. 

I keep saying that LeJour is one of the cheapest Swiss made watches on the market. This watch is not so cheap! Basic price in the EU is around 1500 EUR, but almost all sellers offer some discount. This is generally the most expensive LeJour model, for example the Roadster chronograph is 200 EUR cheaper. The main question is of course: "Is it worth it?" I can't go over poor finalization of the lug edges and the strap parts.  With just a bit of additional effort this watch could be a real threshold to all watch producers, how a good watch even today can be cheap. It's a pity that LeJour has fallen on such small but important details, which destroyed - otherwise good - general impression. 

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Sharp edges
10 days ago

The AP bracelet and finishing is also rough and sharp. It’s part of the design. Smoothing out these parts is not difficult or costly.