With a reputation for being the “watchmaker’s watchmaker”, Jaeger-LeCoultre has certainly demonstrated a wide range of competencies in aspects of watchmaking ranging from movement innovations to the decorative arts. As a brand, it certainly stands alone in being able to fulfil any horological dream that one can care to conjure. Any encounter with the watches of Jaeger-LeCoultre then must necessarily be taken with the mindset that their technical prowess is beyond reproach.
Today then, an unexpected delight awaited a bunch of journalists, myself included, who on arrival, were shown the entire range of new watches for 2014 save for a trio of special pieces. These three, were the highlights of the media lunch held at the National Museum in Singapore, and were revealed as a surprise to us only after the main course had been dispatched with.
This encounter then with the pinnacle of the brand’s production for the year would prove to be a treat given their rarity and what they would exemplify as examples of artistic intent and watchmaking prowess coming together. Enjoy the pictures below, as I take you through what I saw.
1. Master Grande Tradition & Quantième Perpétuel 8 Jours SQ
This new piece from Jaeger-LeCoultre was inspired by a grand complication pocket watch that was made in 1928, taking the style of the skeletonisation and blue enameling as starting points. Beating within is a reworked version of the famed Calibre 876, a movement that has been used before in many watches from the brand. To the skeleton treatment, they have added an intricate engraving in the art deco style, infusing a somewhat luxurious and organic feel to the look of the watch. A beautiful piece for sure, coming in at an eminently wearable 42mm in white gold. The best thing about this watch, the view through the sapphire case-back that has the look of an intricately cut and engraved spider web.
2. Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique & Quantième Perpétuel
This is a watch that was released last year in platinum, with the current pink gold version for 2014 infusing a somewhat more luxurious look and feel than it’s predecessor. Three sub-dials, along with the hour and minute hands contain all the information that this watch is able to display, with perpetual calendar, moon-phase and time all laid out logically and clearly. Visually, there is much to enjoy with the textured silver toned dial standing in contrast to the smooth textures of the sub-dials, and the oscillating gold weight through the sapphire case-back bearing the design from the medallion that Jaeger-LeCoultre won at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition.
The flying tourbillon as well is like no other, with a cylindrical hairspring (hence the name) that is somewhat hidden when looking at the dial face on, but reveals its unique shape with an oblique view. Everything about this watch is top-class, with levels of finishing, aesthetics and technical uniqueness all coming together in a cocktail of ingredients that surely makes this the ultimate in desire for any watch connoisseur.
3. Master Ultra Thin Grand Feu
The Master Ultra Thin remains the ultimate dress watch, fulfilling all the requirements of the code to a tee. A discreetly slim case and a simple dial with no seconds hand is what is offered here, and surely, for formal events, it has everything that you need, and nothing that you do not. This version shown here comes with the additional feature of Grand Feu Enamelling on the dial, the result of an intricately difficult process, requiring not only many trips to the oven, but a rare skill to do it properly. The prize for all this effort is the utterly luminous dial in white, that has to be seen to be appreciated. Underlining the special process that the dial goes through, the mark that makes this piece distinct among the other variants is a discreetly placed “Email Grand Feu” on the dial.