On November 29 in Paris, and worldwide online, Artcurial, France’s leading auction house, will offer over 250 exceptional timepieces retracing nearly 180 years of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history. This is the largest Jaeger-LeCoultre collection ever offered for sale. All the brand’s icons are represented, including Reverso, Polaris, Geophysic, Memovox, and military watches, complete calendars, Duoplan Etrier and other works.
Artcurial organized the first sale entirely dedicated to Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2003. Eight years later, to respond to the demand of the brand’s fans and lovers of Haute Horlogerie, it renews this exceptional event. Here are some examples of the pieces that will be offered.
Circa 1890. Minute repeater hunter pocket watch
In 1870, LeCoultre & Cie’s engineering mastery allowed it to revolutionize watchmaking by making small series of calibres with complications. New manufacturing methods allowed great strides to be made in the reliability of complication watches. The Manufacture soon became renowned for its minute repeaters. In just a few decades, it brought out over 200 different calibres with this complication, among the most difficult to achieve.
Created at the turn of the 1890s, the hunter pocket watch being auctioned by Artcurial houses the 33-jewel LeCoultre 19RVS calibre in its finely guilloché-worked pink-gold case. Made in nickel silver, the minute repeater movement has a bimetallic cut balance wheel, precision end curves, double plate, visible levers, and straight-line lever escapement. The engraved back opens to reveal the classically decorated movement protected by a very fine domed glass: Côtes de Genève, angled bridges and screws, and mirror-polished gongs. The visible winding crown is distinguished by its “wolf teeth” gears. The grand feu enamel dial bears painted Roman and Arabic numerals. The gilded hands are in Louis XVI style.
Estimate: €6,000 – 8,000
1933 blue dial Reverso, model 201
The Reverso was created in response to a challenge set by British officers based in India who wanted a watch capable of surviving the shocks endured during a polo match. The solution: a pivoting case that allowed the owner to protect his watch with a simple flip. An Art Deco classic, the Reverso has been produced in hundreds of different models, many of which are prized by collectors.
During the 1930s, the Manufacture’s clients were able to choose the dial which adorns their Reverso from dozens of models. The white, silvered or black dials were the most popular, but a few pioneering spirits chose colored dials: brown, red or blue. Artcurial is offering a rare Reverso from 1933, model 201, with a blue lacquered dial with stamped hour-markers and lines. This steel model has a LeCoultre 410 calibre, the earliest LeCoultre Reverso movement.
Estimate: €8,000 – 12,000
1958 Geophysic Chronometer, model 2985
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Chronometer was created in 1958 on the occasion of the Manufacture’s 125th anniversary. It was intended for the scientists participating in the International Geophysical Year. In the middle of the Cold War, several thousand researchers from 67 countries combined forces to lay the groundwork for sharing knowledge in the Earth sciences. The Geophysic Chronometer accompanied their explorations.
Along with the famous E168 model, the Artcurial sale will be offering an extremely rare version, which has not been seen at auction for over 10 years: the model 2985, dubbed Geophysic Luxe, of which only 103 were made. Its Jaeger-LeCoultre 478BWSbr calibre offers every technical device to guarantee the greatest accuracy: indirect central seconds, stop second, Glucydur balance wheel, “swan-neck” adjustment system (with regulator spring and setting screws), shock absorbers, precision end curves, anti-magnetic escapement, unbreakable spring, 17 jewels, an 18-carat yellow-gold case, silvered dial, appliqué hour-markers and gold hands.
Estimate: €6,000 – 9,000
1959 Memovox Deep Sea, model E857
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the young French ensign Jacques-Yves Cousteau invented the aqua-lung with the help of Emile Gagnant, marking the start of leisure diving. Clubs sprung up everywhere and the equipment improved. In 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre contributed to the new sport by creating the first diving watch fitted with an alarm which served to remind divers that it was time to start their return to the surface.
1061 pieces of Memovox Deep Sea, model E857 were made between 1959 and 1962. Jaeger-LeCoultre produced a tribute edition to this legendary watch in 2011. One model to be sold by Artcurial was intended for the American market, as indicated by the LeCoultre signature. Water-resistant to 100 meters, its steel case houses the Jaeger-LeCoultre 815 calibre, the first automatic alarm calibre in watchmaking history. The alarm time is indicated by a rotating inner disk.
Estimate: €15,000 – 20,000