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 .