Jaeger-LeCoultre is no stranger to great complication timepieces, but the expansion of the brand’s presence in this arena really took off in this century. Beginning with the Triptyque set of 3 timepieces to the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication’s first introduction in 2010, developing sophisticated, easily legible watches with multiple complications is somewhat of a forte for them.
The caliber 945 is somewhat of a legendary movement, combining a lot of systems and information in a very elegant, in fact, absolutely stunning style. The movement offers simultaneous indications of civil and sidereal time on the dial, by virtue of regular time indication and an orbital tourbillon going anti-clockwise that follows sidereal time.
To briefly explain the difference between the two: solar time, indicates the average time between local solar noons, i.e. the amount of time it takes for the Sun to reach zenith (the highest point in the sky) from one day to the next. That’s 24 hours a day. Sidereal time, used in astronomy, measures the Earth’s rotation with respect to fixed stars in the night sky other than the Sun, and this works out to 23 hours, 56 minutes and a smattering of seconds.
But to go further, the celestial chart is combined with a calendar that goes around the entire dial, and can be read off a tiny Sun pointer on the periphery of the display. Add to that a minute repeater, featuring the brand’s signature cathedral crystal gongs and trebuchet hammers, and you have a Grande Complication that not only features all three types of complications, but sees them interacting with each other.
A New Look
The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication has undergone many facelifts over the decade. The first model bore a guilloche dial, emphasising its classical origins; this was followed by a Hybris Artistica model, fully gem-set with baguette diamonds. Then in 2015, a new version of the watch emerged with a sunray-brushed dark blue dial and simple markers.
And last year, the Tourbillon Céleste, which was a variant of the watch sans minute repeater, artistic director Lionel Favre slimmed down the watch by opening an aperture on the sapphire crystal disc which sits on the same level as the orbital tourbillon.
Favre has repeated this in the new Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication, while making numerous other changes to the display. The star map has been shrunk down so that the entire 45mm watch display is composed essentially of concentric circles: from the minute track in the outermost chapter, to civil hour, to sidereal 24-hour display, to the date and month and finally the star map.
Thanks to the design of the dial, which is multi-layered, it almost feels like you’re looking into a dome on which the star chart is shown. To enhance that effect, Jaeger-LeCoultre has added a jewelry-style, laser-welded metal lattice structure that reminds you either of the constellations or atomic structures of a molecule. It has a hypnotic effect as you start into the dial, and the maison has thoughtfully painting in stars in the back to enhance the astronomical impact of this watch.
Favre’s design has not only made the watch easier to read, it also has an added dimensionality of design, which is much appreciated. Two versions of this new watch will be produced in limited numbers of eight pieces each, in pink gold or in white gold with 44 baguette-cut diamonds totalling 3.76 carats on the bezel.
It’s great to see that a watch that has such a great legacy within the house of Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to evolve over time. 10 years on, the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication is still a maison highlight.
Manual winding calibre 945; hours and minutes; date and month; 24-hour indication; orbital flying tourbillon; sidereal time; minute repeater; celestial disc; power reserve of 40 hours
45mm case in 18K pink gold or 18K white gold with 44 baguette-cut diamonds set on the bezel; black dial with golden laser-welded structure (pink gold model) or blue dial with silvered laser-welded structure (white gold model); limited to 8 pieces each; water resistant to 50m
Aliigator leather strap