Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Calibre 101 and you will realise there’s a reason for the saying, ‘Good things come in small packages’.
Weighing less than a gram and measuring 14mm by 4.8mm and with a thickness of 3.4mm, this compact movement is one of the greatest testaments to the maison’s jewellery craftsmanship and watchmaking know-how.
With roots that stretch back to 1929, the calibre has held a long and steady position within the Jaeger-LeCoultre collection of feminine timepieces.
Two new models were added to the Joaillerie 101 collection this year: 101 Reine and 101 Feuille.
Unveiled at the ritzy Venice Film Festival, the two pink gold joaillerie watches feature similar design codes, including a silvered opalin dial with hour and minute functions. A tiny crown discretely located at the back of the case allows the wearer to make adjustments as needed. Each model comes with a pavé of sparkling diamonds.
Both are driven by the Calibre 101, which beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour – an incredible feat for such a small movement.
|It is also known as the world’s smallest mechanical movement.
The 101 Reine, paved with 110 diamonds, boasts a symmetrical design. The secretive 101 Feuille, which comes studded with 167 diamonds, showcases a diamond paved lid in the shape of a leaf that can be opened to reveal the time. The lid, which takes the shape of a headdress, can be easily opened and closed, thanks to a secret mechanism.
But to appreciate why timepieces housing the Calibre 101 deserve such admiration, one needs to travel back before 1929 when the Calibre 101 debuted, when pocket watches were giving way to a new invention: wristwatches. While the Calibre 101 may be Jaeger-LeCoultre’s best-known miniature movement, it is not the only one. In the late 19th century, the maison had established itself as an expert in creating tiny calibres. One such example is the LeCoultre Calibre 7 HP, created in 1880.
In 1903, when Edmond Jaeger and Jacques-David LeCoultre joined hands to create Jaeger-LeCoultre, they had the foresight to grasp the changing tides of watch trends. The wristwatch, they figured, would be the next revolution in the industry.
Finely made wristwatches were in demand by forward-thinking women who desired to have a bracelet and a functioning item on their wrist. Tiny cases paired with delicate bracelets became the norm, with brands offering dainty wristwatches for ladies. Leading the pack was Jaeger-LeCoultre, which used the famous Duoplan movement as its inspiration for the Calibre 101.
The Duoplan movement, created in 1925, is made up of two levels, allowing more components to fit inside a smaller space.
The Calibre 101 takes it one step further. Producing a Calibre 101 is a painstaking process that only a handful of watchmakers can do. Because of the miniaturised nature of the movement, each component – of which there are 98 – needs to be custom manufactured and assembled.
The heritage and legacy of the Calibre 101 has been preserved since, proof of its timeless quality.