Plaza Watch International - - Sihh Special - WORDS EL­IZ­A­BETH DO­ERR

This ex­cep­tional man­u­fac­ture, which cel­e­brated its 1 80th an­niver­sary in 201 3 , boa st s a dizzy­ingly pro­lific his­tory.

It was es­tab­lished in 1833 by An­toine LeCoul­tre and was the first man­u­fac­ture to be founded in Switzer­land’s Vallée de Joux. It played a pi­o­neer­ing role by unit­ing a full range of tech­ni­cal skills un­der one roof. The 1,000 or so mas­ter watch­mak­ers, en­gi­neers and ar­ti­sans who work there to­day re­main in­spired by tra­di­tion­ally ac­quired knowl­edge and new tech­ni­cal re­search. Each of Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s many watch mod­els benefits from state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy, though they are also crafted in har­mony with the Vallée de Joux’s horo­log­i­cal tra­di­tions.

Jaeger-LeCoul­tre is com­posed of a vast – yes, slightly over­whelm­ing – her­itage com­pris­ing more than 1,000 dif­fer­ent move­ments and 220 reg­is­tered patents. The vis­i­tor may dis­cover this his­tory in the re­cently founded Her­itage Gallery, which is housed in An­toine LeCoul­tre’s orig­i­nal work­shop, the core of the oft-an­nexed fac­tory that now mea­sures 25,500 square me­tres.

In the early days, the brand’s move­ments were the fo­cus, and they were to be found pow­er­ing any num­ber of wrist­watches signed by other lux­u­ri­ous brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Ar­pels and Her­mès. In the mod­ern era, it re­ceived a re­vamp re­turn­ing it to rel­e­vance as a marque through leg­endary manager Gün­ter Blüm­lein, who man­aged the horo­log­i­cal as­sets ( JaegerLeCoul­tre, IWC and A. Lange & Söhne) of the VDO/ LMH group. This mini-group was sold to Richemont in 2000 for the pur­ported sum of $1.7 bil­lion.

One of the el­e­ments Blüm­lein im­proved was the ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion com­pris­ing many lines, stream­lin­ing it to two: the ev­er­green, art deco, rec­tan­gu­lar Rev­erso – which was born in 1931 – and the round Mas­ter. Un­der Jérôme Lam­bert, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre put a new em­pha­sis on com­pli­cated watch­mak­ing and finer fin­ish­ing, which brought forth mas­ter­pieces such as 2004’s Gy­ro­tour­bil­lon and the highly pro­gres­sive Ex­treme LAB, which in­cluded the use of new ma­te­ri­als. The fem­i­nine Ren­dez-Vous line has mean­while re­turned as have nu­mer­ous, well-made and -re­ceived, limited-edi­tion trib­utes to early watches such as the Me­movox and cre­ative new com­pli­ca­tions like the Duomètre line.

D a n i e l R i e do , C E O A T J AE G E R - LE C O U L T R E .

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