The Valjoux 23/72 family is one of the most celebrated and long-lived watch movements of all time. Originally a monopusher, the family was the premier showcase for Willy Breitling’s dual-pusher chronograph patent in the 1940s. A full calendar was added shortly after, and this movement family found its way into high-end watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Girard-Perregaux, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and many others. It was updated with a faster beating escapement in the 1970s and soon ended production. But the family lives on, with makers such as Panerai still celebrating the Valjoux 72.
The Valjoux 23 was a refinement of the Valjoux 22, reduced in size from 31.3 mm to 29.5 mm for the smaller watches in demand in 1916. It was soon joined by the elegant triple calendar Valjoux 23C. Both were monopusher chronographs with just a 30 or 45 minute counter at 3:00 on the dial and small seconds at 9:00.
The Valjoux 72 added a 12 hour counter at 6:00 on the dial. This was introduced possibly as early as 1938 but certainly by 1946, when the triple calendar Valjoux 72C was introduced. A moon phase display was added in 1947 in the Valjoux 88. The movements were continually updated over the next two decades, with a Breguet hairspring and appropriate regulator added, and the entire line moved to the dual-pusher design by the 1950s.
Production of the original 23/72/88 series ended in 1974, with Valjoux turning to the cam-operated 7736 for volume production. But the column wheel family was updated to operate at 21,600 A/h at that time, becoming the Valjoux 236, 726, and so on. These were only produced for a short time in the 1970s but were prized by watchmakers and continue to find their way into limited-edition watches even today.
Notable special variations in this family include the Rolex 722, Patek Philippe 1518 perpetual calendar, and more. The Rolex version of Cal. 72 used a Microstella regulator and were marked “ROW” (Rolex Werke) and known as “72 A”, “72 B”, “722”, or “722-1”. The Rolex version of Cal. 726 was known as Cal. “727”.
The Valjoux 23/72/88 are characterized by their 3-9 or 3-6-9 subdial layout, 9-pin column wheel, and distinctive U-shaped bridge visible on the back.
Valjoux 72 Family Movements
No Hour Counter
No Hour Counter
|Base||Valjoux 23||Valjoux 72|
|Valjoux 236||Valjoux 726|
|Flyback||Valjoux 230||Valjoux 720||Valjoux 235||Valjoux 725|
|Triple Date||Valjoux 69|
|Valjoux 23C||Valjoux 723|
|Flyback and Date||Valjoux 237|
|24 Hour Hand||Valjoux 724||Valjoux 729|
|Calendar and Moon Phase||Valjoux 89|
|Valjoux 88||Valjoux 886|
|Tide Calculator||Valjoux 721|
|Production: 1916 –|