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Meeting the Masters

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Following the announcements of novelties at the loud events in Q1 the first pieces ready to shine on buyers’ wrists arrive to the boutiques over the course of these days. No wonder the summer months are full of boutique events all over the globe. Guests of the Marquise multi-brand boutique could finally put their hands excitedly on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new models last week.

Probably the biggest hit at JLC was the new Master Control family this year, which generated good vibes following the January introduction. We have already covered the date, the chronograph and the second time zone models at the SIHH2017, therefore let me show you other earlier Masters that quietly surfaced at Marquise’s reception.

Jaeger-LeCoultre defined the Master collection as the line that incorporates the very “essentials” of its watchmaking philosophy: pure shapes, refined details and great movements inside. The Master collection stepped up even further by now and it does offer a wide range of timepieces from the essentials to more grandiose models in three sub-divisions: the aforementioned great value Master Control, the slender Master Ultra Thin and the self-explanatory Master Grande Tradition.

At Marquise we encountered beautiful representatives of these too.

Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon

Among a few other fine-watchmaking brands, Jaeger-LeCoultre has a long tradition of ultra thin timepieces.

Jacques-David LeCoultre, the grandson of Antoine LeCoultre (who founded the watch workshop in 1833 and led the production of the company at that time) presented a special pocket watch in 1907. It was an ultra thin pocket watch with a “knife’s edge” design. The LeCoultre Calibre 145 set the record for the world’s thinnest movement at 1.38 mm thickness, appearing in pocket watches that remain to this day the thinnest in their category. To commemorate this feat, the Maison launched the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 1907 with the calibre 849 and a case height of 4,05 mm in 2014.

The simplest version of the Master Ultra Thin range has only hours and minutes indication (with the 7,5mm thickness of the case), but there are models with additional functions such as date, small seconds, moonphase, power reserve indicator, perpetual calendar and tourbillon.

The Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon came out in a 40 mm pink gold case (11.3 mm thick) in 2012. For those who prefer a somewhat colder elegance, the brand cast the same in white gold few years later. It boasts the characteristic aesthetic package: finely grained and silvered dial, rhodium plated hour markers and Dauphine hands (elongated diamond-shape with a distinct line down the middle).

Jaeger-LeCoultre designed a dedicated automatic calibre referenced JLC 982 for the watch.

The tourbillon is placed at 6 o’clock and due to the above mentioned thinness it has an ultra-light carriage made of grade 5 titanium.

Master Grande Tradition Quantième Perpétuel 8 Jours SQ

As the name suggests pieces in the Master Grande line include grand complication or artistry – or both. JLC does not lack any of these – a few years ago the company celebrated its 180th anniversary with a campaign highlighting these skills under the title “180 years – 180 skills”. Engraving and gem-setting are just as much in their repertoire as miniature painting or enamelling.

If the Master line is the essence, the Master Grande Tradition Quantième Perpétuel 8 Jours SQ is an epitome of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s abilities, clearly demonstrating the company’s in-house know-how of rare handcrafts (Métiers Rares®) and engineering skills.

The piece was inspired by a fantastic pocket watch from 1928, featuring Grand Feu enamel on a gold case. The perpetual calendar wrist-watch emerged with a blue enamel decoration in 2014 and in green two years later.

The engraving, the skeleton-work and enamelling simultaneously appear on the timepiece. Even though it sounds busy (and for many other companies it would have ended up in an unbalanced abundance, the decorations on this piece let each other rise and shine.

Functions include the hour/minute, the date, the month and the year indication with a perpetual calendar and moon phases. It also has power-reserve display and a day/night indicator at 12 o’clock. The movement is the skeletonized version of the Calibre 876, with beautiful hand-engraved finishing.

The Grand Feu enamel ring created with the champlevé technique frames the skeleton dial. A similar ring can be found on the backside too. The pattern, the colour and the technique itself demand great precision – if the heating or the cooling process is too quick the enamel can crack. (If you would like to discover more about the enamelling and miniature painting talents of the brand, please read this.)

The 42 mm timepiece in the white gold and green combination was issued in a limited series of 200 pieces.

Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes

As the Grande Maison from the Vallée de Joux sums it up: “this is an exquisitely refined timepiece that is music to the ears of lovers of discreet luxury”. Launched in 2015, the minute repeater watch has a 39mm pink gold case (12.1mm thick) and a silvered, grained white dial. The heart of the watch is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Caliber 942.

The “crystal gong”, crafted out of a single piece of a special alloy, is patented by the brand. The gongs are attached to the sapphire crystal with their heels. When the hammers strike, this solution creates a loudspeaker effect, allowing the watch to have great sound both in volume and sonority.


Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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