If any watch company has a reason to celebrate an anniversary, it is Jaeger-LeCoultre. As one of the original Swiss heritage brands, its founders were at the forefront of the first golden age of watchmaking – from about 1800 to 1870. Founded 180 years ago in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre is a still a leading member of today’s elite watchmaking culture, now in its second golden age of innovation. Over the past 180 years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has filed 400 patents.
Collections like the Hybris Mechanica series of complicated watches put Jaeger-LeCoultre in the top 1% of watch brands today that are making new inroads into watchmaking, both in terms of movement development and the use of new materials. This year, three new pieces in the limited-edition Jubilee Hommage à Antoine LeCoultre collection, dedicated to the brand’s founder, exemplify both the brand’s heritage and its modern-day innovations. They represent the accumulated technical achievements of the past 180 years of research and development.
The Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Jubilee is the star of the anniversary collection. It is the 10th work in the Hybris Mechanica series, dedicated to Grande Complication models, and the third in a series of spherical tourbillons created by Jaeger. The Gyrotourbillon 1 was introduced in 2004. It is also the timepiece that most closely represents both the brand’s heritage and its role as an innovator today. The watch is a double-axis tourbillon with spherical-shaped cage, spherical balance wheel and ball-shaped hairspring, all representing modern-day interpretations of mechanical watchmaking. However, it is also the brand’s homage to one of watchmaking’s original inventions – the tourbillon – and the aesthetics were inspired by pocket watches of the 19th century, for which the tourbillon was originally invented. The traditional understated hours and minutes dial evoke the days of classic, conservative styling.
The absence of an upper bridge – the Gyrotourbillon 3 is a flying tourbillon – provides a clearer view of the gyroscope-like carriage. It is actually composed of two carriages, one rotating every 60 seconds and the other, every 24 seconds. Both are made of lightweight aluminum. The watch also incorporates a unique digital chronograph, with elapsed chronograph minutes recorded in what looks like a large date window. The movement, caliber 176 is the 1,242nd to be created by Jaeger-LeCoultre since its founding in 1833. Only 75 pieces will be made.
The Master Grand Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique Jubilee Perpetual Calendar is another piece that represents both innovation and tradition. It was inspired by the brand’s 19th century perpetual calendar pocket watches. It is driven by a new automatic flying tourbillon movement, Caliber 985, equipped with the brand’s unique, space-age cylindrical balance spring. The carriage is made of grade 5 titanium, and the balance wheel is made of 14k gold. Despite these new materials, and the spectacular show performed by the cylindrical balance, the watch possesses traditional characteristics as well: understated baton hour markers, a traditional minute track, dauphine hands and a silver-toned grained dial finish. The 22k gold rotor bears an engraving of the gold medal that Jaeger-LeCoultre won at the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition for its horological expertise. The watch, with a platinum case, is issued in a limited edition of 180 pieces.
The third piece in the collection, the Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee, is the epitome of the classic, minimalist men’s dress watch that defines understated luxury. It is a perfect representation of the brand’s heritage because Jaeger-LeCoultre, in fact, came into existence for the sole purpose of perfecting an extra-thin caliber. Horological minimalism is not an easy feat. As JLC points out, “watch mechanisms naturally resist being pared down.” The manually wound caliber 849 of the Master Ultra Thin Jubilee measures a mere 1.85mm thick. In its platinum case, it measures just 4.05mm thick, which is thinner than just the sapphire crystal alone on some watches.
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