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Chapter Six: 180 Years and Beyond
A major player in watchmaking history since the 19th century, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated 180 years of watchmaking, starting in its founder’s original workshop, in 2013, and continued to present new horological innovations at the 2014 SIHH. In Chapter One of our serialized history of the brand, we documented the years 1559-1907, and the founding of the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch brand. In Chapter Two, we covered the introduction of such iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces as the Duoplan, the Atmos clock, and the Reverso, covering the years 1912 to 1931. In Chapter Three, we revealed the origins of the Memovox, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s groundbreaking alarm watch. In Chapter Four, we explored more modern timepiece collections from the late-20th to early 21st Century, including the Master Control and the first complicated Reversos. Chapter Five brought us nearly up to date with 21st-century horological marvels such as the Gyrotourbillons. Now we cover some of the most recent innovations, including new watches from SIHH 2014.
Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon
Just one year after the introduction of the Master Ultra Thin Jubilee, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents another authentic pioneer in the field of grand complications, the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon watch, the eleventh creation in the Hybris Mechanica collection and the first ultra-thin Grand Complication model. The watch is very slim for a minute repeater, at just 7.9 mm thin. It is also equipped with an original tourbillon, a high-performance new balance spring, a peripheral automatic winding system, a retractable single push-button, as well as a new minute repeater equipped with a silent-timelapse reduction system. The watch has eight separate patents, six of which are entirely new.
Unlike a classical tourbillon, whose construction tends to obstruct the view of certain components, the tourbillon in the Hybris Mechanica Eleven watch is equipped with a world-first flying tourbillon fitted with a flying balance wheel: both the balance-wheel and spring may be observed in motion from a radically different perspective. This construction also contributes to reducing the movement’s overall thickness.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has conceived and developed an automatic winding system that contributes to the ultra-thin dimensions, which uses an oscillating peripheral weight with a platinum segment visible through narrow openings on the dial. Fitted on a specially developed ceramic ball bearing mechanism, the rotor moves freely in either direction, with only the clockwise rotation winding the movement.
A minute repeater strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on demand. When there are no quarters to be struck, a lengthy, silent timelapse occurs between sounding the hours and the minutes. To solve this problem, an innovative system reducing this silent timelapse was developed. It detects the absence of quarters to be struck and thus eliminates the marked pause between striking the hours and minutes. As a result, the high- and low-pitched notes seamlessly follow their appointed pattern without breaking the tempo. The Hybris Mechanica Eleven is equipped with two patented trebuchet hammers that ensure stronger, cleaner striking on the two crystal gongs fixed to the sapphire crystal, which helps to amplify the sound diffusion. Instead of a traditional slide, the minute repeater is activated by a retractable, single push-button, for which Jaeger-LeCoultre has filed a patent, with a discreet locking system at 8 o’clock.
The white-gold, knife-shaped case is only 7.9 mm thin (including the crystal) and 41 mm diameter. The bezel, the sides and the tapering lugs are all entirely hand-polished.The hour-markers, the traditional black transferred minute circle and the silver-toned grained finish are stylistic nods to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s historical pocketwatches. The Dauphine-type hands have a polished, grained finish. An aperture at 6 o’clock affords a dramatic view of the ultra-thin tourbillon.
Issued in a 75-piece limited edition, the Hybris Mechanica Eleven is powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 362 and has a 45-hour power reserve. The 4.8-mm-thin automatic movement also boasts various haute horlogerie finishes, including côtes de Genève on certain bridges and hand-crafted bevelling on the interior angles on certain parts. The watch’s 18k gold case is attached to a high-end alligator leather strap, secured by a white-gold pin buckle.
The expertise and virtuosity of the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre, on display in the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, are revealed through each of its timepieces. Watchmakers, artisans, engineers and technicians, united in the same location at the heart of the Vallée de Joux, share the same vision of excellence and work together to give birth to unique horological creations. Together, it is 1,300 individuals that offer fine watchmaking enthusiasts a wealth of new surprises each year.
Grande Reverso Night & Day
The Reverso saga continues in 2014 with the introduction of the very first Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso equipped with an automatic movement.
A single glance is enough to instantly recognize the spirit of the iconic watch with the reversible case: the silver-toned dial framed by the three distinctive gadroons; applied black Arabic numerals, apart from the “6″ which is replaced by a useful small seconds display; blue faceted baton-type hands for the hours and minutes; along with a triangular day/night pointer in the same color. The dial of the night/day indicator is divided along its center by a horizontal line marking off the lower part of the Clous de Paris guilloché motif, while linking numbers “6″ and “18″ so as to visually separate the daytime and nighttime hours.
The Grande Reverso Night & Day is powered by in-house automatic Calibre 967/B, a sturdy, reliable movement developed and built in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s workshops in the Vallée de Joux. Its balance oscillates at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. It comprises 200 parts and provides a comfortable 42-hour power reserve.
The swivel case of the Grande Reverso Night & Day is available in rose gold or in stainless steel. In both cases, it is water-resistant to 30 meters. It comes with a black alligator leather strap secured by a clasp made in the same material as the case. The dial is topped by a sapphire crystal, whereas the caseback, in keeping with the finest Reverso traditions, remains open to its owner’s imagination. He will thus be able to personalise it at will by having it engraved with initials, a monogram, an evocation of a memorable event or a fond memory.
Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire
The new version of the Duomère à Quantième Lunaire comes with a 40.5 mm case in 18k white gold. In keeping with the high quality of its movement, it features an immaculate dial crafted in grand feu enamel which is spectacularly shiny and extremely complex to create.
Because running such an elaborate complication as a calendar within a classical watch has a detrimental effect on the precision of the time indications, the watchmakers at Jaeger-LeCoultre turned to the brand’s Dual-Wing concept to produce a calendar watch that was as accurate as a chronometer.
The hours, minutes, seconds and moon-phase displays are elegantly arranged on the dial. Inside the case, and partially hidden from view, beats Calibre 381, which boasts unprecedented precision based on the Dual-Wing concept, which is distinguished by the presence of two independent energy sources, each with a 50-hour power reserve: the first, regulated by the escapement and the balance, is entirely dedicated to the precise measurement of time; the second is devoted to the display of the functions: hours, minutes, seconds, calendar and moon phase. Their synchronization is ensured by the jumping seconds-hand mechanism. With a jumping seconds hand that moves in 1/6-second increments, and the date and moon-phase indicated on a separate subdial, this watch reaches new heights of precision.
Master Ultra Thin 1907 and Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu
To mark its 180th anniversary in 2011, Jaeger-LeCoultre honored its founder Antoine LeCoultre by dedicating an exceptional thin watch to his memory: the Master Ultra Thin Jubilee watch, which measured a mere 4.05 mm thin. In 2014, the Master Ultra Thin line welcomes two new models: the Master Ultra Thin 1907 and the Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu.
The extra-slim rose gold case of the Master Ultra Thin 1907 watch is shaped like a knife-blade, a design that ensures en even thinner profile. The engineers and watchmakers of the Manufacture meticulously studied each movement component and each case element in order to save precious millimeters at each stage of production.The minimalist philosophy behind the Master Ultra Thin 1907 watch is expressed in a 39-mm-diameter case designed to smoothly embrace the curve of any wrist.
This relatively modest size required Jaeger-LeCoultre to design and build a similarly small movement. Manually-wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 849, entirely crafted, assembled and decorated by hand in the brand’s complications workshop, has 123 parts, a 35-hour power reserve, and a balance beating at the frequency of 21,600 vph, and measures only 1.85 mm thin.
The watch’s grained white dial is punctuated by baton-type hour-markers (doubled at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock) and has two dauphine-type hands. The minutes dots between two hour- markers are dusted with rose gold, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo appears at 12 o’clock. The Master Ultra Thin 1907 watch comes with an alligator leather strap with 18k rose gold pin buckle.
The Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu watch contains the same ultra-thin movement and features a white-gold dial with Grand Feu enamel. The Grand Feu enamelling technique, mastered by only a few artisans today, involves firing the watch dial, meticulously coated with successive layers of enamel, at very high temperatures generally ranging from 800 to 900 degrees Celsius. The case of the Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu, also crafted from white gold, features the same blade-shaped profile, although it is slightly thicker, at 5.04 mm., in order to accommodate beneath the sapphire crystal the dial’s various enamel layers. The inscription “Email Grand Feu” appears on the dial between the 7 and 8 o’clock numerals.