Jaeger-LeCoultre has a legitimacy in photography, being the only watch brand to have actually manufactured a high-end camera. In two special exhibitions, the brand proves its photography chops with classic images.

Back in 1937, the brand worked with Noel Pemberton Billing, an English businessman and pilot, to design and produce the Compass camera.

It all started with a bet. Billing invented a number of things during his life, including the plane that would eventually become the Spitfire, and one evening in the late 1920s, he bet his friends that he could create a camera of the highest quality small enough to fit inside a cigarette packet.

Billing, to make good on his wager, sought out the miniaturization skills of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and after three years of development, the Compass, made up of 290 components, was born.

The camera was an immediate success, because of its design and its long list of functions, including an exposure meter, range finder, telescopic lens shade, inbuilt filters, extinction meter, EV indicator, angle viewfinder, a device for panoramic and stereoscopic views, as well as an ultra-light tripod specially designed to accompany it.

Only 4,000 of the Compass were made and now the camera is a collector’s item.

To celebrate its involvement with the groundbreaking Compass, Jaeger-LeCoultre is displaying an exhibition of classic photos shot with the Compass in Venice and New York.

In addition, the brand once again partnered with Finch & Partners to host an exhibition called “The Art of Behind the Scenes” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Held at the Hôtel du Cap in Antibes, France, the exhibition featured onset photographs from Hollywood’s Golden Era, curated by photographic expert John Ingledew.

“Haute Horlogerie and the worlds of cinema and photography share common values: both create dreams and a sense of wonder through aesthetic and technical mastery,” says Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. “Jaeger-LeCoultre draws upon the talent of its
many artisans to create exceptional watch objects, just as it takes talented writers, directors, actors and technicians to produce a work of filmmaking art. It is all about two worlds infused with
creative ingenuity.”

Present day photographs taken with the Compass Camera: New York City

Present day photographs taken with the Compass Camera: Venice

Onset photographs from Hollywood’s Golden Era on show at “The Art of Behind the Scenes” exhibition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.

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