When it was born, back in 1992 the Jaeger-LeCoultre collection was intended to represent the purity of classical watchmaking. Form and function hand in hand, with an emphasis on robustness and mechanical reliability. The collection made that last point definitively thanks to the at-the-time unheard of ‘1000 hours control’ tests. Six weeks of rigorous testing — kind of like Swiss watchmaking’s take on the grueling trials prospective Navy SEALs are subjected to. It’s all for a worthy cause though: this level of diligence — which was unprecedented at the time and still significant — is a proper take on quality control. It’s also a factor in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s excellent real-world reputation.

Dependable mechanics deliver on one half of the promise of the Master Control, but what about the front-facing side of the equation too? Well, over the last 28 years, the aesthetic has been unfalteringly classic, in both proportion and design, which is influenced by iconic lines such as at PowerMatic and the Memovox.

In these latest iterations of the popular Master Control collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre has not strayed far from the tried and true path. The watches shine with silver sunray dials, exceptionally fine features and proportions that are, well, timeless.

The hero model of this revamped collection is, without doubt, the brand new Master Control Chronograph Calendar — which, unsurprisingly, combines full calendar (and moon phase) functionality with a chronograph, all thanks to the brand new Calibre 759, an automatic movement with 65 hours of power reserve. It’s a classic combination and one that looks right at home in the Master Control family.

The case proportions are excellent too — 40mm across and 12.05mm tall, and an old-world look that’s not overtly vintage – a tricky balance to strike. This model is offered in steel and a new alloy of gold – Le Grand Rose Gold, which, thanks to the addition of some palladium, promises a remarkable sheen and lustre that will note oxidise and fade over the years.

This brand-new model isn’t the only shining star in the Master Control firmament; there are updates to the Master Control Date, Calendar and Geographic models. The overall design of the Master Control case has been given subtle upgrades too — with a slimmer-looking, outwardly sloped bezel, richly curved lugs and a pleasing mix of polished and satin-brushed details. The Calendar and Date models are 40mm across (which is pretty perfect), and the Date is a very slender 8.78mm tall, with the Calendar slightly thicker at 10.95mm.

The new Master Control Calendar on the brown calfskin leather strap next to the previous generation model. (Image © Revolution)
The new Master Control date on the brown calfskin leather strap next to the previous generation model. (Image © Revolution)

It’s not just the cases that have been tweaked for 2020, the internals have been given a going over as well. The Calibre 899 of the Date model now boasts a range of energy-saving improvements, such as a redesigned barrel and a silicon escapement. These features cross over into the Cal. 866 of the Calendar too. The most apparent sign that work has been done is the enhanced power reserve, which has jumped from 40-something hours to a very respectable 70 hours.

The dial design of the Date model is familiar – applied arrowhead markers and cardinal Arabic numerals, tiny dots of luminous material and dauphine hands with a matching sliver of lume, a date at 3 o’clock. The only thing breaking up the silver-tones is that blued second hand.

The dial of the complex Geographic has had a revamp too, the city aperture now sitting in an expanded, sloping minute chapter ring which adds visual cohesion to the dial, while adding texture and sophistication. The power reserve display also takes up more dial real estate, thanks to the longer power reserve.

Over on the Calendar model, the design gets a little more dynamic. The format of center date, day and month apertures under 12 and a large sub-second and moon phase display above 6 o’clock is unchanged. But everything is a little more – refined. Take, for example, the date indicator. No longer is it the traditional red crescent. Now it is an elegant red ‘JL” logo. There’s delicate printed frames around the beveled day/month windows, and a panoply of stars joins the moon in the silver moon in the sky. Each change is incremental, but they add up to result in a watch that is in line with contemporary understandings as to what constitutes timeless design.

One final option that gives these Master Control releases a very now feeling is the addition of new calfskin straps called Novonappa. These straps offer quick-change spring bars and a vegetable-based tanning treatment that means they will develop a pleasing patina over time. They also give the fairly formal Master Control a dressing down, making them an eminently suitable smart-casual option.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

Technical Specifications

Movement

Calibre 759. Hours, minutes, small seconds, calendar with date, day and month indicators, moon phases, chronograph. Power reserve of 65 hours.

Case

In stainless steel or Le Grand Rose Gold, 40mm by 12.05mm. Water-resistant to 50 metres.

Dial

Silver sunray finish with applied indexes

Strap

Novonappa calf or alligator.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

Technical Specifications

Movement

Calibre 939. Automatic, hours, minutes, seconds, with second timezone, day/night indicator, city ring and power reserve indicator.

 

Dial

Silver sunray with applied indexes.

Strap

Novonappa calf or alligator.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar

Technical Specifications

Movement

New-generation Calibre 866. Automatic, power reserve 70 hours with hours, minutes, small seconds, day, jumping date, month and moon phases.

Case

In stainless steel or Le Grand Rose Gold, 40mm by 10.95mm. Mix of satin and polished finishes, sapphire caseback, water-resistant to 50m.

Dial

Silver sunray with applied indexes.

Strap

Novonappa calf or alligator.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

Technical Specifications

Movement

New-generation Calibre 899. Automatic with power reserve of 70 hours, hours, minutes, seconds and date.

Case

In stainless steel, 40mm by 8.78mm. Mix of satin and polished finishes, sapphire caseback, water-resistant to 50m.

Dial

Silver sunray with applies indexes.

Strap

Novonappa calf.