Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates its 180th anniversary by paying homage to founder Antoine LeCoultre with a diverse SIHH collection that reveals sophisticated complications, while remaining true to its aesthetic traditions. The manufacture registers an average of 15 to 20 new watchmaking patents each year.
Its Jubilee collection, which CEO Jérôme Lambert says reflects the brand's key value of mechanical elegance, features three exceptional pieces - Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee, Master Ultra Thin Jubilee and Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee.
As the watchmaker's 10th grand complication in the Hybris Mechanica series, Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3, limited to 75 pieces, brings to light the best of the house's technical innovation and craftsmanship.
The novelty, a first chronograph equipped with a flying tourbillon, is a masterpiece in precision timing thanks to its spherical gyrotourbillon, which compensates for positional errors with its synchronised double rotation and a spherical-shaped balance-spring fitted with two terminal curves with a 14ct blued gold balance.
Inside its 43.5mm extra-white platinum case beats a Calibre 176, the latest mechanical heart researched and developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre engineers. The 592-part, manually wound movement features complications, including an instantaneous digital-display chronograph activated by a single push-piece and day-night and 24-hour indication on the three independent dials. The grand complication has a power reserve of 48 hours.
Its ultra-white platinum case is an innovation to substitute copper residues in the material to create an additional white and bright finish. Artisans have revived an ancient technique in which its main plate has been manually hammered, while its white gold folding clasp incorporates an additional mechanism to make it more adjustable and comfortable.
Jaeger-LeCoultre was one of the first master artisans to develop ultra-thin calibres for wristwatches, ensuring the Master Ultra Thin is close to the heart of the brand's spirit. The timepiece, powered by the manual-winding Calibre 849 housed inside an extra-white platinum case 39mm in diameter and 4.05mm thick, comes in a limited 880-piece series.
The name is a mouthful but the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel's tourbillon is equipped with a cylindrical balance-spring, in which the shape improves the accuracy of the movement.
The watch, limited to 180 pieces, features complications, such as a flying tourbillon and perpetual calendar, within its 42mm extra-white platinum case. The sapphire crystal on the watch-back's 22ct gold oscillating weight is a reproduction of the gold medal Jaeger-LeCoultre won at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition.
Jaeger-LeCoultre's ground-breaking, ultra-thin calibres have also been applied to the Reverso family, including the manually wound Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Duoface, which fits a second time zone dial in the design with complications such as small seconds and 24-hour day and night indicator. The watch is available in a steel case or an 18ct pink gold version, both just 9.14mm thick.
Lambert says the brand's engineers have been developing its men's and women's novelties in parallel.
"Our first wristwatch was made for women," he says. "Only two years after the launch of the iconic Reverso, we launched a version for the ladies. By expressing ourselves equally in both segments, we have a great opportunity to progress into new phases of the trade while keeping in line [with] the tradition of the brand."
A more feminine addition to the Reverso collection is the Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin Duetto Duo with a steel or 18ct pink or white gold case of 8.87mm thin holding dials encrusted with silvered guilloche or appliquéd with mother-of-pearl marquetry, paired with a hand-stitched leather strap by Italian firm Valextra. Women who value its mechanical heart as much as the feminine design will appreciate the Rendez-Vous Celestial, which has been inspired by the Valleé de Joux night sky.
"The brand had exceptional expertise in watchmaking [when I became CEO], but was sometimes missing products that could showcase our technical superiority. The point is not whether we had done a good job but what we are going to do next," Lambert says.
Lambert has certainly left us hungry for more.