HERITAGE OF EXCELLENCE
We examine the storied past of haute horlogerie manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The past is the key to the future, as we examined the extensive history of Jaeger-LeCoultre to understand its latest collection.
WIDELY CONSIDERED THE POWERHOUSE
of watchmaking in Switzerland, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been prolifically turning out timepieces that rock the watchmaking world since its inception in 1833—with the exception of the ’70s and ’80s crisis. The renaissance of the mechanical movement in the ’90s revived Switzerland. The manufacture at Le Sentier woke up from its long slumber to a new ownership, and stretched its arms, flexed its dextrous fingers and off they went with renewed energy and dynamism. The biggest advantage was that the manufacture was completely intact, and so they created some of the most amazing watches of our time. It is considered one of the biggest and needless to say the most successful haute horlogerie manufactures in Switzerland.
What is the secret behind the success of JaegerLeCoultre? “We work like a family unit, and that helped me to settle into my position quickly,” said Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Riedo was previously with another watchmaker for 12 years before joining Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2011. “It is a great company to work with. We have a lot of open discussion about our projects and that helps a lot in our development of our timepieces. There is a strong common view amongst us and there is no compromise.”
The differences between the two companies must be quite stark. “You can’t really compare the two companies. Each of them is on a different scale. One is a mass production and the other is haute horlogerie, and their market is different as well,” Riedo explained. “At Jaeger-LeCoultre the technical know-how is wide-ranging, there are many calibres created each year, while the other company works on a handful of calibres. The clear advantage here is the sheer size of the manufacture as we have 1,300 employees. They make a high volume of watches while we made considerably less but different kinds. We faced different challenges.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre in its 180 years has created some outstanding timepieces. They have the classic range and then they have also added seven new collections, which are modern and up-to-date with the latest high-technology materials. To achieve that one must have either a large team or manufacturing ability. The Maison has both. “We have teams of watchmakers working on different ranges, and new ideas are always being explored,” Riedo stated. “But we try not to let it to spread out as we would like to keep the quantity low and concentrate more on development. The biggest advantage we have on our side is our 180 years of watchmaking skills and our large archives of calibres—over 1,000 of them to help us see what has been done and what hasn’t been done and how they were done. And from there we filter it down to our workshop—we have the ability to produced everything in-house and that gives us the ability to turn out new models a lot quicker as we do not have rely on outside manufacturers and contractors. We are totally independent.” Only a handful of manufactures in Switzerland hold such solid independence, an enviable position.
Here are the fruits of their labour for the 2014 collection—finely executed, beautifully finished and well thought-out ergonomics.
GRANDE REVERSO NIGHT & DAY
Ever since it was invented for British Army Officers stationed in India in the 1930s, the Reverso has gained cult status amongst watch connoisseurs. This year sees an automatic version of this much loved classic. With the reversible quality of the watch still being its identifying feature, its silver-toned dial is framed by three distinctive gadroons. The black Arabic numerals are replaced by a useful complementary display while the blue facetted batontype hands for the hours and minutes and the triangular day/night pointers make telling the time easy. The dial of the night/day indicator is divided along its centre by a horizontal line marking off the lower part of the Clous de Paris guilloché motif, while linking numbers six and 18 so as to visually separate daytime and night-time hours.
Powered by an in-house automatic Calibre 967/ B, this movement was developed in the workshops of the Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux and features an outstanding sturdiness and reliability. Comprising 200 parts with a
42-hour power reserve, the automatic calibre oscillates at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. With the pink gold or stainless steel versions, the Reverso is water resistant to three atmospheres. Topped by a sapphire crystal, the back of the case can be engraved with the owner’s initials or name. The classic elegance and simplicity of this iconic watch will definitely charm many future generations.
MASTER GRANDE TRADITION TOURBILLON CYLINDRIQUE À QUANTIÈME PERPÉTUEL
Inspired by its 19th century perpetual calendars, JaegerLeCoultre’s new Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel in pink gold has caused collectors’ hearts to beat as fast as its mechanism. This connoisseurs’ must-have timepiece has earned a reputation as the most accurate perpetual calendar in the world. Following the vision set by Antoine LeCoultre, the watch embodies all that Jaeger-LeCoultre stands for, pleasing aesthetics endowed with the latest technologies.
The latest model for this watch opts for a movement which single-handedly embodies the automatic winding mechanical movement, the Calibre 985. Equipped with a flying tourbillon and a perpetual calendar, the watch is encased in a 42mm pink gold case. The tourbillon is a major technical achievement in itself, with its grade 5 titanium carriage, 14- carat balance and its cylindrical balancespring specially developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre create an impression of levitation. The perpetual calendar provides a clear view of the day, date, month and year as well as the moon phase. Modern yet traditional, the Master Grande Tradition Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel is a timepiece that pays tribute to the excellence of fine watchmaking as well as reflecting the inventive spirit of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
MASTER COMPRESSOR CHRONOGRAPH CERAMIC
Jet-setters and sports lovers can rejoice as the JaegerLeCoultre Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic is a watch which combines a chronograph and a dual timedisplay. Previously, collectors had to choose between one or the other function as they were never combined in a single timepiece. Multi-tasking is given a new spin with the added feature of a safety feature, its patented compression key. Serving the sports enthusiast who also globe trots, the semi-matte black dial is the perfect backdrop to read all the indications on this stunning watch.
The luminescent hour and minute hands are paired with a bold red chronograph seconds hand point to the markers arranged around the dial. For the convenience of travellers, the GMT function is inspired by the Travel Time concept to complement the day and night indication appearing through a window below the Jaeger-LeCoultre signature. The Master Compressor Ceramic watch features the signature characteristic of all Master Compressor timepieces—Jaeger-LeCoultre’s patented compression key guaranteeing optimal water resistance. A single half-turn of this key effectively overcompresses one of the crown’s four toric gaskets and locks it in a security position that prevents any inadvertent handling.
In the heart of this watch lies the automatic movement, known as Calibre 757 which gives the Master Compressor Chronograph an imperceptibly smooth operation. Endowed with the latest advances in Jaeger-LeCoultre research, it beats at a frequency of 28,800v/hr, and features a comfortable 65-hour power reserve. No less than 300 parts are required to drive the multiple functions of this timepiece. Its sturdiness and reliability will soon be taken for granted by sports lovers assured of the complete trustworthiness of their Master Compressor Chronograph Ceramic in keeping daily pace with their greatest land, sea or air feats.
Available only in 500 limited edition pieces, this dual function time piece is housed inside a cutting-edge case made from high-tech ceramics and topped with a sapphire crystal. The fitted Trieste strap is fastened with a pin buckle and fitted with a compression key crown and satin-brushed steel pushpieces.
Above: Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à quantième perpétual in pink gold.