HER­ITAGE OF EX­CEL­LENCE

We ex­am­ine the sto­ried past of haute hor­logerie man­u­fac­ture Jaeger-LeCoul­tre.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Ong Chin Huat

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.

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