After waiting 17 agonizing months, fans of AMC’s hit TV series “Mad Men” finally have reason to cheer: Season Five of the Emmy-winning drama premieres this Sunday, March 25. And now Jaeger-LeCoultre — a brand that sharp-eyed watch aficionados have spotted series star Jon Hamm wearing on the show — is offering an extremely limited watch made specifically for diehard fans: the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Tribute to “Mad Men.”
The watch — of which only 25 pieces will be made — is a fun project for Jaeger’s North American president, Philippe Bonay, an admitted “Mad Men” fan and, like the characters on the show and perhaps not coincidentally, a former advertising man himself. “I worked at one of the biggest Madison Avenue ad agencies,” he told WatchTime, “and I recognize the company I work for when I watch the show.” As it turns out, the admiration is mutual: Jaeger-LeCoultre watches have been appearing on “Mad Men” regularly since the first season.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s connection to “Mad Men” is a natural one, Bonay is quick to point out, rather than a customary product placement deal. The show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, is meticulous in choosing period-appropriate props for the show, including watches. In Season One, he placed a vintage JLC Memovox model on the wrist of Don Draper, the suave ad exec portrayed by Hamm. In Season Three, after making partner at his firm, Draper began wearing a vintage Reverso.”Matthew Weiner is very much in control and chooses the watches that the characters wear,” Bonay says. “And he has a great eye for vintage watches from the 1960s. Also, I think it’s obvious to anyone who’s watched the show that it beats in sync with Jaeger-LeCoultre… it’s all about being refined and chic. To me, it’s natural that they would use Jaeger-LeCoultre. We have even sent them watches from our museum to consider using on the show.”
When “Mad Men” and Jaeger-LeCoultre got together to produce a special edition, Bonay had two rules for his creative team: he wanted a very small production run and a model that would show an understanding of the show and its world. “I wanted something that was chic and still somewhat irreverent,” he says, “something that really captures the spirit of the show.”
What Jaeger-LeCoultre came up with was a special edition of Jaeger’s Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931 model, introduced last year. Each numbered piece features the logo of Sterling Draper Cooper Pryce, the show’s fictional advertising firm, engraved on the caseback, and comes in a distinctive walnut commemorative box also bearing the SCDP logo. Fans of the show — and of vintage watch advertisements — will also appreciate the extras that come with the watch. “We’ve raided our archives to find several old Jaeger-LeCoultre advertisements,” Bonay said, of which high-quality reproductions will be included in the box. The other collectors’ items are a copy of “Sterling’s Gold,” a book written by one of the show’s characters, Roger Sterling, the sharp-tongued veteran ad man played by John Slattery; and a personalized, commemorative letter from Sterling (reproduced below), in which he presents the watch as a gift to the new owner in that character’s distinctive voice. The book is autographed by Weiner.
“The story is that the watch is a gift from Roger Sterling to his longtime employees,” Bonay explains. “Each owner gets a letter with his own name on top, and the date on the letter will be a date between Feb. 1 and Feb. 25, 1966, a different date for each of the 25 watches, because Season Five takes place in 1967. Even the marketing for the watch strives for authenticity: the publicity photos shown here were shot on the “Mad Men” set, in Roger Sterling’s office. ” The price for the Grande Reverso Ultra-Thin 1931 Tribute to “Mad Men” is set at $8,450.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is also running a contest on the brand’s Facebook page, in which Don Draper wannabes can submit their own idea of an ad campaign the “Mad Men” character would have come up with for the Reverso back in the 1960s. The contest is another sign of the stylistic synergy between the ad agency TV drama and the historic watch brand. “‘Mad Men’ has had such a deep impact on the culture,” Bonay says, “and our Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 watch has also struck a chord; there is incredible demand for these watches. If you look at our entire collection, you’ll see that it’s going back to very classic looks. And this is a small, somewhat quirky project for us, but it feels right.”