COV­ER­ING ALL THE BASES

From con­tin­u­ally reimag­in­ing the tour­bil­lon to unit­ing its var­i­ous artis­tic crafts in one space, an in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­ture finds fresh ways to rein­vig­o­rate its most cher­ished tech­ni­cal and artis­tic tra­di­tions.

The Peak Selections: Timepieces - - Reviews -

In the watch world, some big names guard their man­u­fac­tures jeal­ously, rarely open­ing their fa­cil­i­ties to visi­tors. And then there are those that are more than happy to share their in­ner work­ings with the out­side world. Mark­ing 183 years of watchmaking in 2016, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre be­longs de­ci­sively in the lat­ter camp. While we are priv­i­leged enough to have been in­side sev­eral of the world’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tures, we have never seen one that live-streams close-up footage of the work car­ried out by its em­ploy­ees – mag­ni­fied 40 times.

We visit the Jaeger-LeCoul­tre man­u­fac­ture in March, when it’s snow­ing in Le Sen­tier, a vil­lage in Vallee de Joux. The ex­panse of white beyond the win­dows adds to a sense of quiet con­cen­tra­tion within the home of one of the most re­spected brands in the busi­ness. Along with a hand­ful of other jour­nal­ists from Tai­wan and Sin­ga­pore, we stare in­tently at a large pro­jec­tion screen built into a large wooden ta­ble, placed at the cen­tre of the re­cently com­pleted Rare Crafts Ate­lier.

With the per­mis­sion of em­ploy­ees, video cam­eras are fixed to var­i­ous work­sta­tions. We watch as an ar­ti­san metic­u­lously adds fine, yel­low streaks to a minia­ture paint­ing on a dial. The tableau is in­stantly recog­nis­able – it’s a beau­ti­ful ex­e­cu­tion of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over The Rhone, and this dial will even­tu­ally be placed in­side one of the man­u­fac­ture’s lat­est minute re­peaters, the Master Grande Tra­di­tion a Rep­e­ti­tion Minutes.

Com­pleted just two months ago be­fore our visit, the Rare Crafts Ate­lier unites 30 ar­ti­sans, who were pre­vi­ously scat­tered over dif­fer­ent floors, in a shared space that en­cour­ages col­lab­o­ra­tion. Four main crafts are car­ried out here: enam­elling,

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