SIGHTS AND SOUND
Thin in looks, massive in accomplishments.
Slim in looks and massive in accomplishments is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica II.
IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to create a list this prestigious without a watch from the famed maison of Jaeger-LeCoultre. To follow up on the maison’s 180th anniversary is no easy feat, especially after the appearance of the already stunning Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee—the tenth masterpiece in an unsurpassed line of the Hybris Mechanica collection. However, the brand has dug deep within its seemingly limitless resources of knowhow and skill to present yet another masterpiece.
This stroke of genius, announced at the beginning of the year, is the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon. Quite a mouthful. However, we must decree at this point that the verbose name does, as expected, justify the number of accomplishments found within the timepiece. Where, with the previous Hybris Mechanica iterations, we find three-dimensional complications such as the said Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee, this time, we celebrate 2014 with the first appearance of an ultra-thin Grand Complication from Jaeger-LeCoultre.
For those who simply want to know, at this point, where to buy or obtain one of these masterpieces, let us tell you that the watch is limited to only 75 pieces. All of them come in a 18k white gold case, finished off with a black alligator leather strap locked down with a matching white gold pin buckle. The price? EUR294,000.
The watch comes in at just 7.9mm thick. Coupled with its 41mm case diameter, we cannot disagree that the watch is indeed classified as ultra-thin. The fact that the watch presents to the owner a 471 part movement that contains, not only a flying tourbillon, but also a minute repeater, is already quite a marvelous accomplishment, especially in consideration of the relatively thin case. To ensure a proper fit within the small confines of the case, every little component has been trimmed down to a size that is as small and thin as we can fathom.
First off, we bring our attention to the tourbillon visible at 6 o’clock. The Calibre 362 movement of the watch, along with the tourbillon, is only 4.8mm in thickness. The openness of the tourbillon is a visual feast for the eyes of the owner. By incorporating the flying tourbillon with a flying balance wheel, there are fewer mechanics obscuring the view of the movement of the tourbillon. To achieve this, a new balance spring had to be invented. Furthermore, the tourbillon is left uncaged thus allowing for the presence of a larger balance wheel, which in turn makes possible a greater degree of accuracy and adjustment. The masters at Jaeger-LeCoultre then made the watch oscillate at 3hz. Normally, this relatively high beat rate is unseen in tourbillons with large balance but it is this rate that supports the ability for timekeeping precision and enhanced stability.
We turn our attention to the minute repeater. The silvered dial on the watch and the white gold dauphine hands match the tone of the white gold of the case. Not surprisingly, this choice of white gold case only throughout the production of the watch is actually tied to the idea that the acoustics for the minute repeater surpasses that of a similar watch made in more luxurious platinum. Couple those acoustics with sapphire gongs made famous by the brand almost a decade ago. That said, the newly engineered repeater mechanism provides yet another surprise. Unlike a traditional minute repeater, this watch will chime without the typical pauses when there are no quarters to be counted. To ensure the consistent theme of ultra-thin throughout the watch, the activator for the repeater is actually a push button (as opposed to the standard sliding activator seen in most repeaters).
Finally, to cap off the already jaw-dropping credentials of this timepiece, Jaeger-LeCoultre has provided the watch with an automatic winding system. The peripheral rotor within is made of platinum and continues the slim and thin themed found in the rest of the timepiece while accumulating up to 45 hours of power reserve.
Top: JaegerLeCoultre Hybris Mechanica II Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, and caseback showing the Cote de Geneve finsihed bridges and plates.