In this, the year of the Grande Maison’s 180th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s SIHH 2013 presentation was focusing, naturally, on the Jubilee Collection, as well as proudly sharing the fact that they have 1242 calibres, use some forty odd types of crafts and art forms and 180 skills in their time pieces, and have some four hundred inventions to their name.
However, it was not just about the Jubilee collection, but also about the brand’s old favourites reworked – a new Master Ultra-Thin, Master Tourbillon Dualtime, Master Calendar, Grand Reverso Ultra Thin Duo, and some women’s models, and it is on these more models that I will focus. Complications are grand but these are the watches that most of us will be looking at when looking for something to buy.
First up is probably my favourite from the watches that I saw during my session, the Master Ultra Thin 41. Why this one? Well I’ve made no secret of how the purity of time-only watches can appeal to me because of the difficulty in getting something so simple both timeless and elegant. Time-only watches can run the risk, design-wise, of looking a little pedestrian or uninspiring. This new case is not only bigger, but also thinner, at 7.4mm, with the automatic Calibre 898C inside. As for the movement itself, it is a mere 3.3mm, with a 43-hour power reserve. With classic dauphine hands, the pink gold version of the new MUT has an eggshell coloured dial and the steel version, a sunray-brushed dial. It’s good looking, not too big for a dress watch, and just feels really comfortable on the wrist.
In line with their jubilee, there’s also a Jubilee Collection Ultra Thin that is smaller (39mm) if you find the 41 a bit too large for a dress watch. It is platinum, has the manual wind Cal 849, is 4.05mm and only limited to 880 pieces.
Onto another Master in a new form, the Master Calendar (Ref. 1558420). With a design very reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s triple date moonphases in particular, but also the triple date moonphases of some other brands that have never stopped using this particular type of format, this is a lovely balanced watch with a pointer hand for the date and windows for the day and month. At 39mm it is more in tune with contemporary size tastes, and it has a height of 10.6mm. Pure dress watch.
The Master Tourbillon Dualtime (Ref. 1562521) houses the automatic Cal 978B with a 48 hour power reserve, and features a second time zone operated by the crown, 24-hour display, a titanium tourbillon regulator, and a date indication that is adjustable in both directions and that doesn’t obstruct the view of the tourbillon.
Next up are some Reversos, of course. There can’t be a JLC anniversary without some Reversos!
First up, the Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin. This bi-metal watch is in an 18-carat pink gold and stainless steel case. The dial is silvered guilloché, the hands baton style. Inside is the manual wind 846/1 movement with a power reserve of 40 hours. It’s a small elegant piece, with a smattering of diamonds to glam it up and, of course, with the Reverso’s capacity for engraved personalisation.
Rather different is the Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin Duetto Duo. A much more bold piece, the ‘Duetto’ refers to the concept of two dials operated by a single movement. Inside the stainless steel case is the manual wind 864 movement with a power reserve of 50 hours. It also has a guilloché dial but also a second time zone and mother-of-pearl marquetry on the back. From a personal view, I think that it would have been even better without the diamonds, but I prefer this to the previous Grande Reverso because of the second time zone and the bold interesting black-grey dial.
A piece that I think will do really well for JLC is the new Deep Sea Chronograph Cermet, which will come in two versions – one with normal white lume and a vintage-inspired piece, both of which will cost EUR 10,000.
As you immediately noticed, this chrono takes its aesthetic lineage from the Memovox Deep Sea. The disc at the top of the dial beneath ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’ is the chronograph operating indicator, inspired by the Jaeger-LeCoultre 1930s ‘chronoflight’ onboard instrument. It shows up as white when the chronograph function is ready for use, white/ red when in operation, and red when it is stopped. The watch has, in addition to the chronograph, a 30-minute and a 60-second counter, and the numerals and hour markers are, of course, lumed.
It has a great matte looking case made of the increasingly popular Cermet, which is an aluminium and ceramic composite. It’s light, sturdy, and looks good as a material, especially against the matte black dial. The watch comes on a diver’s fabric strap (naturally) and inside is the Calibre 758 with a 65 hour power reserve. The water resistance is 10 bar.
The practical watches are all very well and fine, but Jaeger had a piece of utter whimsy, as well – the white gold diamond encrust Rendez-Vous Celestial, which shoes the Northern Hemisphere’s constellations, Zodiac signs and the months of the year are on a beautiful deep blue lapis lazuli guilloché dial. The astronomical/ astrological theme continues with a shooting star-shaped indicator. Inside is the automatic Calibre 809 which rotates the star disc.
During the Jaeger presentation the lady with this watch, seeing a number of people having to rush off to the next presentation, urged me to just wait a minute or two so she could show this to me. I don’t know whether this meant that a lot of people had missed the opportunity because they had to leave, but I am glad that she got me in time. In the metal, the blue is deep and bright, and the overall impact is quite a joyful one. The whimsy is even continued through to a star on the buckle…
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s SIHH 2013 booth had a large historical display to commemorate the significance of this year, and I will share photos of the pieces featured there in a separate post.