Jaeger-LeCoulture’s design director, Lionel Favre, decodes the brand’s evolving design aesthetic
Jaeger-LeCoulture’s Design Director, Lionel Favre decodes the brand’s DNA
From jewellery design to high jewellery to watches, how did you make the transition?
I started out very young, working in jewellery design in Geneva, right after I finished my studies. After working for several years for high jewellery companies in Geneva and Paris, I discovered watchmaking design in the 2000s. In watchmaking, the approach is much more technique, but the two universes have their similarities. When we design high jewellery pieces, we want the stones to perfectly reflect the light. When we design watches, we also play with the light to find the right shape or angle that will make the case shine. From another point of view, with feminine watches, we work with the idea of creating highend watches with jewels, reflecting from the wrist.
What is the one thread that has connected the novelties of 2018?
This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the new collection Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris, a collection featuring different models: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic, Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic Date, Jaeger-LeCoultre Chronograph, Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT and the famous JaegerLeCoultre Polaris Memovox. What connects them is the source of inspiration: the iconic Polaris Memovox created in 1968, 50 years ago. This watch, created for divers, had a large dial that enabled good readability. It has been the basis for creating the entire collection.
Would you look at innovating and designing a product line which is distinctly different from the DNA of the brand?
When I am not working, I like to draw creative watches, without thinking about any specific DNA. But when we work in a company such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, the DNA is very interesting criteria. We have to understand the DNA of the brand to become the keepers of its heritage and sustain the style of the Maison.
What according to you sets JLC apart from the rest?
The concentration of expertise and know-how, all found under one roof at the manufacture in the Valley de Joux, definitely sets Jaeger-LeCoultre apart from the rest. Since it was founded in 1833, JaegerLeCoultre has cultivated a very unique savoir-faire for creating new calibres. Thanks to the over 180 different competencies centralised at the manufacture, skilled
craftsmen are producing watches from A to Z, and creating outstanding movements such as the gyrotourbillon.
Why was the Polaris selected as the inspiration for the much talked about collection for the year? The original Polaris Memovox created in 1968 had some strong elements that could be extended to an entire collection, such as the large opening dial, the large indexes, and the dark dial. We wanted to offer our clients an opportunity to rediscover a stronger sports segment in our product line.
Which is the one key element that was kept intact while designing the Polaris collection and of course, what was the biggest challenge? For the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris collection, the challenge was to keep the originality of the historical timepiece. We kept the dark colour, the 42mm dial, and the large indexes, but we redesigned the bezel, and made much more straight and sharp lugs. The idea was to remain very close to the original drawing.
What are the technical innovations that have been incorporated into the heritage design? On the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox, we wanted to improve the design, the technical aspects, and above all, the sound of the alarm. On the Polaris Memovox from 1968, the sound was subdued because of the waterproofing of the piece. To develop the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris, we worked on the alarm to make it louder and have an even more beautiful sound. Who is the Polaris man? The Polaris man is smart and active, who is elegant, but prefers a watch on his wrist during sport or even while travelling—for a sophisticate on the move.
Which are your favorite timepieces from the ones launched this year?
I like the 44mm, titanium Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph World Time. I like the functionality of the movement; readability of the hours across the globe, and also that you have these in a snapshot. I like the idea of being connected with family or friends whether they live in different countries or time zones. It’s interesting to feel instantaneously linked to the people you love. Even if you can’t meet them face-to-face, you can feel close by simply glancing at your wrist.
BACK TO THE FUTURE The Polaris collection launched this year revisits a brand classic