When Edmond Jaeger, specialist in fine micro-engineering and Jacques-David LeCoultre, a bright mind of minute repeaters and grand complications started to design timepieces together in 1903, it was almost predictable that they would create exceptional innovations in the field of skinny mechanical timepieces. Well, Jaeger-LeCoultre has so far produced over 1.200 different movements, many of which have broken and held records in size. Calibres like 101 or 145 are good examples of their creative engineering. The traditionally strong thin watch palette of Jaeger-LeCoultre has been further enhanced this year among other novelties, which have been introduced at SIHH. Ready for my experiences? Here we go…
During a reception held by Jaeger-LeCoultre as the official partner of Abu Dhabi Film Festivals in late 2013 I was invited to view the precise movements of the Masion. One of these was the Calibre 380A with a two-barrel system which supplies energy for the time and the chronograph functions of the Duomètre à Chronographe timepiece separately. The dual-barrel system is the hallmark of the Duomètre family which now celebrates the birth of two new models, the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire and the Duomètre Unique Travel Time Pink Gold.
The Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire has been introduced with a pure Grand Feu enamel dial. Descending in 18k white gold case the white enamel creates a perfectly clean, porcelain-like background for the indicators – date and moon phase, hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve gauges for both barrels. The two power sources in the Calibre 381 fuel the time measurement and the display of hours, minutes, seconds, date and moon phase functions individually.
Duomètre Unique Travel Time Pink Gold was made for those who spend much of their time travelling between time-zones. The home time is shown at 2 by two leaf-like hands, while the second zone at 10 incorporates a digital jumping hour aperture. Each of these is powered by separate barrels storing 50 hours of energy, which can be recharged by winding the same crown clockwise or anti-clockwise. The world is shown with time-zone markers at 6 o’clock and is synchronized with the travel time. The precise beating and the exquisite finish of Calibre 383 can be witnessed through the sapphire case-back.
Hybris Mechanica 11
As I mentioned in the introduction, Jaeger-LeCoultre have been advocates of thin mechanical movements since the beginning of their history, delivering some of the smallest and thinnest full-mechanical sets ever. It was again in Abu Dhabi at the same event, when I experienced the feather-light and razor sharp Master Ultra Thin Jubilee, which I tell you, has adjusted my expectations as to how comfortable a timepiece should be. The House showcased the 11th model of their Hybris Mechanica collection at SIHH. Undoubtedly the highlight of my visit at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s booth was my instant romance with the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, aka Hybris Mechanica 11.
The timepiece incorporates a flying tourbillon including a flying balance wheel above which a newly developed balance spring is fixed. Craftsmen of the House have created over 200 repeater mechanisms, no wonder why Jaeger-LeCoultre is considered one of the experts of this complication. In the Calibre 362 of this timepiece engineers came up with an ultra-thin version of the repeater, sounded by two trebuchet hammers striking two crystal gongs fixed on sapphire to ensure clean tone and amplified sound. The Hybris Mechanica 11 is an automatic watch, which lets the oscillating peripheral platinum weight visible through the 12 little openings around the dial – pretty impressive by giving the impression of an energy-breathing timepiece. The case of the Grand Complication made of 18K white gold is 7.9mm thin and has a 41mm diameter. The Hybris Mechanica 11 was inspired by the over 100 years old ultra-thin knife-shaped pocket watches of the Maison and it comes in a 75-piece limited edition.
Master Ultra Thin collection
Four other new ultra-thin models have come to light in Geneva. The Master Ultra Thin 1907 is the pink gold version of the Jubilee piece while the Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu displays time on an elegant Grand Feu enamel dial surrounded by the white gold case. Both share the mechanically wound 1.85mm thin Calibre 849 debuted in the Jubilee model. The Master Ultra Thin features a small sub-dial for seconds. It comes in two versions, one pink gold with an eggshell white dial and a steel model with a sunburst silver-toned dial. The Calibre 896 sources energy from writs movements. The Master Ultra Thin Date has a little date window at 6 o’clock opening onto the eggshell color dial in the pink gold case. The automatic timepiece is operated by the Calibre 899.
A new pink gold version of the sophisticated Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel was also introduced. Just as the white gold version enriching the Jubilee collection, the pink gold version includes the automatic Calibre 985 movement. The flying tourbillion guarantees precision while the perpetual calendar mechanism reduces date setting activities to one occasion in every 100 years. The grained silver-toned dial sits in the 18K pink gold case in perfect harmony. The gold medal received by Jaeger-LeCoultre at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition is engraved onto the oscillating weight visible through the sapphire case-back.
The 46mm diameter Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic is a brand new sports model offering a precise chronograph function and a dual-time display via the automatic Calibre 757. The red chronograph seconds hand attracts sight ultimately, while the second time-zone hand discretely pulls in the background. Date is shown between 4 and 5 o’clock. All information is clearly visible, there’s nothing “unnecessary” on the dial. The ceramic case and the semi-black dial give a definite motorsport feeling. To guarantee water resistance, the 500-piece limited edition features a compression key that secures the crown from any inadvertent handling underwater.
My personal favorite, the Reverso collection has also been enriched with two new models. Going back to the roots of the collection the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 represents the essence of the series: it is a two-faced, elegantly light timepiece with flawless proportions. The timepiece is the third member of the tribute line started by Grande Reverso Rouge in 2012 and Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface Blue in 2013. This time the watch received an eye-catching chocolate-tone dial and matching strap by the Buenos Aires centuries-old family business Casa Fagliano.
This is a genuine marriage between Reverso and the cordovan leather strap. The first Reverso watches appeared 80 years ago to satisfy the requirements of British colonial polo players. Back then those sportsmen probably had polo boots made by Casa Fagliano already in their wardrobe but at least on their wish list. Casa Fagliano was established in 1892 by Pedro and Giacomina Fagliano and today it is the fourth generation of the family that runs the business according to the same disciplines and quality measures with all the workmanship performed by hand. Their boots are made of cordovan leather, known for their exceptional resistance; therefore it was the obvious choice for the special edition Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931, too.
The timepiece is brought alive by the manually-wound Calibre 822/2 movement, which is less than 3mm thick. The case is made in 18K pink gold and the powdered numerals and hour-markers are emphasized by the chocolate dial.
The collection received a new automatic member too, operated by Calibre 967/B Grande Reverso Night & Day has a sub-dial at 6 o’clock indicating time on a 24-hours scale. The upper half showing daytime (6:00 – 18:00) is adorned by a Clous de Paris guilloché motif and is unambiguously separated from the night time by horizontal lines. The face of the timepiece is simple yet nicely elaborated– exactly what I love about Reversos. The swivel case can be ordered in two versions: in pink gold or in stainless steel.
Two years ago Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Rendez-vous line. At SIHH 2014 the brand presented the Rendez-Vous Date and the Rendez-Vous Night & Day within the same feminine series. A new case size of 27.5mm was chosen for Rendez-Vous Date which the tiny Calibre 966 can nicely fit in. The Arabic numerals running around the silver-toned guilloche dial let a small window open at 6 for the date indicator. The blue hands show time in an unmistakable manner and stand in contrast with the 18K pink gold case and bracelet. Small diamonds are set on the bezel further enhancing the ultimate feminity.
Slightly bigger is the Rendez-Vous Night & Day being housed in 29mm steel or pink gold case. The Calibre 967A movement offers day/night indication, which appears above the 6 in a small circle-slice on the dial. The representations of the sun and the moon are elegantly funky and together they shine with the diamonds next to the numbers. The only occasion inappropriate to wear this timepiece is during the course of sports – for everything else, you’ll feel elevated!
Jaeger-LeCoultre has a campaign for Valentine’s Day, for which the brand dressed up a Rendez-Vous watch with a special stripe hiding a pocket. This may hold any message you may think of! 🙂 The Rendez-Vous special edition is available in shops until 14th February, so hurry up to get your messenger!
Other fantastic pieces showcased
Jaeger-LeCoultre booth this year at SIHH
Photo credits: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Loupiosity.com.
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