What do you do when you pass by the new boutique of a beautiful watch brand? Of course, you ring the bell and wait until they open the door. We at Monochrome Watches happened to be in Amsterdam the other day, and passed by the recently opened Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique. To my surprise they had two Master Minute Repeaters present – that’s a rare occasion – and I took out the camera to show you one of the best sounding minute repeaters on the market.
In the past year the Amsterdam high-end shopping street Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat – now already nicknamed the Golden Half Mile – has become a true watch-lovers mecca. The number of mono brand boutiques of luxury brands – not only of watch brands – have popped up rapidly, and created a magnificent place for watch lovers and tourists alike. When you’re in Amsterdam, don’t miss this place, which is located at a stone’s throw away from the important museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum), the beautiful Vondelpark, and the main shopping area. I’m sure you’ll love it and it’s just a nice stroll away from the crowded main shopping area or the aforementioned museums.
Now, back on topic: the two Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Minute Repeaters, and why the Jaeger Le-Coultre Master Minute Repeater has such a clear and loud sound. When developing a minute repeater watch, the two biggest challenges are actually conflicting. Of course there are many challenges, however keeping the watch closed, so no water can enter, is always an important challenge. The other challenge is to create a chiming mechanism (gongs and hammers) that has a beautiful full, clear and ‘loud’ sound. That’s something that Jaeger-LeCoultre succeeded in, with the Master Minute Repeater that has a rather unique construction. The two mentioned challenges (not letting water get inside the watch, but letting the sound come out) are each asking for another, conflicting, technical solution. The more open a case is, the better the sound comes out and is heard by its wearer. But well, you get it, that’s not a water resistant solution. In order to keep water out, JLC opted for a classical solution that is similar in most (modern) minute repeater watches. The minute repeater function is actuated by a slider that is in the case band, on the left hand side. Despite this slider, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Minute Repeater is water resistant to 5 bar / 50 meters. That means the case isn’t open to let the sound come out. Still, the JLC Master Minute Repeater is acclaimed for it’s crystal clear and loud sounding repeater. In order to achieve this, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmakers came up with an unusual yet very effective, solution.
The clever solution that make the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Minute Repeaters sound louder, richer and very clear, was achieved by placing the gongs against the crystal. The crystal resonates with the gongs and therefore amplifies the sound.
Jaeger-LeCoultre first introduced the Master Minute Repeater Antoine LeCoultre, which was equipped with Caliber 947, in 2005. It soon made a name because of its patented crystal gong, which meant a major breakthrough in the world of repeater watches.
How did Jaeger-LeCoultre do it?
The gong heel was soldered to the watch’s sapphire crystal so as to make the most of the sapphire crystal’s properties of velocity to magnify the intensity and purity of the sound vibrations emitted. After some more years of research, Jaeger-LeCoultre came up with a totally new shape of gong, used for the first time ever on the Master Minute Repeater that was introduced in 2007. The new gong consisted of a single part, extending from the heel to the actual gong itself. Among other innovations it featured a larger surface area that comes into contact with the hammer, which was made to strike with increased force. The gongs, meanwhile, were made out of a material for which Jaeger-LeCoultre possessed, and still possesses, the exclusive and secret formula.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater (that’s its full name) comes in three variations: titanium, rose gold (shown here) and a yellow gold version with a closed dial. The other one shown here is the Boutique Edition, in platinum with a black lacquer dial. Every metal has its own properties, and also its own effect on how a repeater watch sounds. For sure, the chiming mechanism plays the most important role, as does the case’s design. However, when comparing the exact same repeater watches, which are made in various metals, there’s also a difference. Gold usually sounds a bit richer than titanium; however, the latter has a louder sound. Titanium makes the sound a bit crisper, and has a slightly sharper pitch.
Technical specifications – Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Minute Repeater
- Movement: hand-wound movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture Caliber 947, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand, 21,600 vph, 15-day power reserve , 413 parts , 43 jewels, 8.95 mm in height and 34.7 mm in diameter
- Functions: hours, minutes, minute repeater, power reserve, barrel torque indication
- Case: various metals (titanium, yellow gold, rose gold, platinum) 44 mm in diameter and 15.6 mm thick, domed sapphire crystal, water-resistant to 50 meters
- Straps: hand-sewn alligator strap with pin buckle in matching metal
This brilliant minute repeater starts north of 150,000 euros for the titanium version. In rose gold the retail price is 182,000 euros and the pictured Boutique Edition in platinum comes at a retail price of 232,000 euros.