One of the common quirks of Americans is their loyalty and even devotion to their respective almae matres. (That’s “schools attended,” for you folks in Rio Lindo and Perth-Fremantle.) For some it's a matter of pride due to the school's sports teams, while for others it's all about the school name and the éclat it connotes. Nonetheless, there exists that same depth of school pride even for those of us who didn't go to a school with a legendary basketball or football program, or a name that conjures up images of ivy-covered brick walls and professors in their snazzy corduroy sport coats with suede elbow patches. Case in point: Yours Truly.
I'm a very proud graduate of the California State University's Long Beach campus, where the only sports we as a school excelled in were baseball (Google “Cal State Long Beach Dirt Bags”) and surfing, which happened to be an obsession of mine during the time I attended -- and still is, though I've not stood atop a board and ridden a wave in, oh, let's just say a long while and leave it at that. At any rate, those two sports are not exactly the kind of activities that would tend to make good old Long Beach State a sports powerhouse. And it's not exactly the kind of school that anyone would take for an "ivy league" institution, despite being able to boast such famous former attendees and/or graduates as Steven Spielberg, Steve Martin, Snoop Dogg and commercial aviation pioneer, Mortuus Praesepultus. Okay, so maybe that last one is a stretch, but all of them would no doubt tell you that CSU Long Beach is truly "the shizzle."
And all of this has exactly what to do with your review of this watch, Mort? you ask, and rightfully so; after all, no one likes digressions very much -- just ask Holden Caulfield's speech teacher at Pency Preparatory Academy, a first class bastard who'd have his students yell "Digression!" if some poor sap strayed from the subject of his in-class public address. (Now how's that for a digression, eh?)
So all of that sets the stage for an afternoon last summer, when I sat down at my computer to explore the Montres Edouard Lauzières website (http://www.edouardlauzieres.com), looking to find that perfect Swiss watch. It is at this point where I suppose I need to add the disclaimer that, in the four years since becoming a member over at BDWF, I have gotten to know Mr. James Elsener, owner of Edouard Lauzieres watches and fellow BiDWiFfer, and I consider him to be my friend. So does that mean you wouldn't bust on his product because of that? you ask. My completely honest answer: nope. I call ‘em as I see ‘em. (Unless, of course, there’s vast amounts of cash involved, then hey, it’s every man for himself.)
Anyhow, I'm looking at the EL (or, as they refer to it, the ƎL) website, when I come across this watch called the Long Beach, and suddenly I'm transported back in time to those amazing college daze of wine, women and song. And there I am, freezin' my keestoi' off in the early morning haze, jogging the three blocks down to the beach, surfboard under my left arm, and the upper half of my partially unzipped wetsuit bouncing up and down on the back of my legs. And then, after a couple hours of perfect wave riding, I'm getting bitched out by my fraternity's "house mother" for getting sand on the Persian rugs in the foyer. And then, still more hours later, it's me and a few of my Kappa Sig brethren, getting bitched out by the same lady, this time for "smelling of alcohol, like a bunch of common inebriates." And so on. (If nothing else, she had a wonderful vocabulary…but I digress.)
Photo courtesy of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Cal State Long Beach - My home of four years
(Okay, for you folks in Rio Lindo and Perth-Fremantle, here’s where the actual review starts, so you can wake up now…)
The Edouard Lauzières watch brand is not widely known here in the U. S., but it is fairly well-known throughout Europe and South America. It is a genuine Swiss watch company that can lay claim to its products having been actually made in Switzerland, and no one doubts the veracity of that statement. Each watch proudly features “Swiss Made” on both the dial and the reverse. And while I might be a bit on the biased side, each is truly a fine example of Swiss design and craftsmanship. The Long Beach model is a superb example of the brand’s high standards.
Mr. Elsener makes use of the ƎL website (http://www.edouardlauzieres.com) to explain the watch's Long Beach moniker thusly:
“On a sunny day I was rummaging around the house and looking for a piece of cloth I knew I had put away on the attic. I wanted it to show it to [an associate] because of its colour. I had a very special dial in mind.
“The cloth I did not find but I stumbled over a glass bottle full of sand. When I turned the bottle the label read Long Beach and the colour was exactly like the one of the cloth I had been searching for.
“And to this day we do not know whether the sand in the bottle hails from the beaches of Long Beach NY or Long Beach California.”
Of course, Mortuus Praesepultus (that’s me, for you folks in Rio Lindo and Perth-Fremantle), proud native southern Californian and graduate of Long Beach State, is pretty damned sure (like around 99.999% certain) that the sand in question came from the vicinity of his beloved alma mater, though I’ve no way of proving it. Sometimes you just know.
Movement: EL-18, based on Claro 888-2 self-winding, with 18 jewels, blued screws, decorated bridge and Côte de Genève decorated and hand-calibrated rotor
Function: date at 3 o'clock
Case: 316L stainless steel, high-gloss polished
Back: 316L stainless steel-framed see-through sapphire crystal
Diameter: 38mm (without crown)
Weight: 74 grams
Glass: sapphire crystal
Water-resistance: 5ATM - 50 meters (165 ft)
Dial: hand-guilloche, sunburst pattern
Hands: luminous dauphine style hands, silver coated seconds indicator
Index: applied numerals
Crown: ƎL-engraved 316L stainless steel
Band: vintage style calf skin leather with matched stitching, embossed inside with ƎL logo, 23 cm (9 in)
Buckle: ƎL-engraved 316L tang type
*Courtesy of http://www.edouardlauzieres.com
I’ll be right up front about telling you that if you’re not used to wearing smaller watches, the ƎL Long Beach is definitely going to look and feel a bit small to you when you first try it on, much like most vintage watches look and feel small to those who have had little or no experience with them. Nonetheless, the nicely balanced dial, bezel width and lug-to-lug distance all combine to make the watch’s size a very good look for your wrist, even if you’re up there in 8” wrist territory.
The lovely sand dial color is both stylish and visually relaxing, making the Long Beach ideal for casual wear, though it’s certainly suitable as a dress piece, depending on your choice and shade of clothing. The rich, hand-guilloche “sunburst” dial pattern is striking, well-balanced against the size of the hour numerals and hands, and plays very well with the logo and other brand indications.
Like a lot of other collectors, I used to wonder whether the Claro-888 was really a Swiss movement, or just something “Swissy” to put in a case and call it a day. And then, during an online discussion, one of my best pals on the planet, over at “Another Site” goes out of his way to assure me that the CL-888 is definitely Swiss, no question about it. He never said just how he knew this, and I respected his advanced age and vast knowledge of watches enough that I never felt the need to ask.
So fast forward it a couple of years, and here I am buying this lovely watch, somehow not at all concerned about the CL-888 Swiss question, because, well, ƎL is using a CL-888-2 based version in this watch, which they have given the moniker EL-18, which is a really cool coinkydink, because the movement just happens to have 18 jewels onboard. (These things don’t happen by accident, y’know, unless, of course, you happen to hail from Rio Lindo…but I digress again.) At any rate, and at the risk of sounding a bit juvenile, the EL-18 reminds me of that Sade song of 30+ years ago, Smooth Operator. Which, of course, it is. It has the tendency to pick up the occasional one or two seconds over a five-day period, which is pretty damned good. In the end, there is a definite – though hard to describe – feeling you get when you wind it up and put it on, where everything is nice and solid, and superbly functioning. (You know, like sliding behind the wheel of a brand new Mercedes SLK...but, yet again, I digress.)
In summation, this is a beautiful, well balanced watch, both operationally and visually. Like the vast majority of Swiss watches, it is a genuine pleasure to slip it on and go about your day. And the sand dial color is just amazing, especially for an old LBSU 49er such as myself. Its calf leather strap is as comfortable as the leather seats in my old SLK-320, so much so that it often gets left on my wrist overnight without my realizing it. Put simply, it’s the complete package that all of us as collectors are looking for. 100% distinctive all the way.
James, you’ve done a marvelous job with this watch, and I genuinely love it. And for the rest of my ever-growing watch family, I think you will, too. This is the real thing, and so is the gentleman who builds it.
As always, many thanks to all of you who’ve stopped by yet again to read one of my novellas. Be safe and well, all.
©2016 Mortuus Aviation, LLC. “Where your final flight is always a First Class experience.”
Title/closing photo courtesy of http://www.edouardlauzieres.com.