The Maison Jaeger-LeCoultre not only develops and produces sophisticated movements and complications (around 1.250 own calibres) in their manufacture in Le Sentier, but they also cherish the craftsmanship in terms of decorating movement parts, plates and dials. The most qualified artisans of their craft are joined in the manufacture's own Atelier “Métiers Rares” and with a lot of sensitivity and long-time experience they turn the small timepieces into ticking works of art. The Atelier’s artisans have now got their skilful hands onto the new ‘Master’ models that Jaeger-LeCoultre just introduced on the watch fair SIHH 2019. Three new Master Ultra Thin watches and a new, impressive Master Gyrotourbillon are added to the collection.
What they have in common: a striking shining dial made of blue enamel – the special relief effect is emphasized by a guillochage. Usually, guillochage is only conducted on solid surfaces like stainless steel, gold or silver. Jaeger-LeCoultre has dared the challenge on enamel, a very delicate material that sometimes happens to break already during production. The new guilloched dial fits very well to the elegant Master collection as it is not intrusive or flamboyant but modest and noble. Its real complexity only becomes visible at a second glance. The art of enamelling has long disappeared from the Atelier of Jaeger-LeCoultre and was only revived in 1996.
Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces three new Master Ultra Thin models with enamel dials: a Moonphase, a Tourbillon and a Perpetual Calendar. There is a nice contrast between the slim cases and their extra thin movements and the bold dials, which are caused by the enamel. Also, the movements have been modified and are little more powerful. The Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel runs with the new calibre 925/2 with a power reserve of 70 hours. Its earlier calibre 925/1 made it just up to 43 hours. The new calibre 868A/2 of the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel also offers 70 hours power reserve, compared to 38 hours in calibre 868/1. The Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Enamel did also receive a modified calibre 978F, however the power reserve of 48 hours remains unchanged to calibre 978G.
True connoisseurs of the ‘Master’ collection will notice even more details like the slender markers that very well harmonize with the Dauphine hands. The white gold cases have been reduced slightly from 40 to 39 millimetres. It confronts the engineers with the task to offer more performance on even smaller space. Only the Tourbillon is bedded in its familiar 40 millimetres diameter case. With eager eyes you might spot tiny dust particles on the dial – it occurs during the guillochage of the enamel dials and are deliberately not removed to show the handwork. If you are now curious that it might have just been artificially done for marketing reasons we can assure you: we have been to quite a few manufactures and got in touch with real artisans doing their meticulous handwork. The two models with Perpetual Calendar and Moonphase are limited to 100 pieces, the Tourbillon is limited to 50 pieces.
The fifth generation of the Gyrotourbillon is only limited to 18 pieces however but also comes with a blue enamel dial (also available with a silver-grained dial). It’s impressive to see, how many technical features Jaeger-LeCoultre is able to fit on a space of only 43 millimetres in diameter. This is how big, or actually small the case of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Grand Complication measures. Its model-name tells you little more about what you can expect: Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel. In 2004 Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the first multi-axis tourbillon (Gyrotourbillon). It enabled the tourbillon cage to rotate around its own axis to reduce the negative impact of gravitation due to horizontal or vertical positioning. To make a long story short, it makes the watch even more precise.
As this type of construction requires a lot of energy, the new Gyrotourbillon for the first time incorporates a one-minute constant force mechanism, a secondary energy source. An intermediary spring (remontoir d’égalité) that is re-armed by the mainspring provides the tourbillon continuously with the same energy. An additional advantage of the constant-force mechanism leads to a jumping minute hand. The one-minute jumping system also has a positive effect on the mechanism in charge for the chime player and eliminates the chiming error that can occur when the repeater is activated between minutes and when there is a one-minute delay between the chime played and the time shown.
Thanks to the Westminster minute repeater the melody of the Big Ben clock in London chimes sonorously, a technical mystery that only very few Maisons are able to master. Jaeger-LeCoultre owns around 200 calibres with a chime mechanism. For a special sound Jaeger-LeCoultre uses crystal gongs and ‘Trebuchet’ hammers that due to their special construction carry out quick but powerful beats on the gongs that lead to a clearer sound. The Perpetual Calendar automatically displays the correct date between months of different lengths and takes into account the extra day at the end of February during leap years. A special service for the wearer: the date can be adjusted in both directions without having any negative impact on the mechanism. Good service has its price: in this case around 955.000 Euro.