Jaeger-LeCoultre: Spring Into Action

February 4, 2015

From advanced movements to delicate diamond settings, Jaeger-LeCoultre practices every aspect of the watchmaking arts at its highest level.


Since the early 19th century, the Vallèe de Joux-based manufacture has been an epicenter of horological invention. With an extensive catalog of patents and calibers to its name, Jaeger-LeCoultre shows no signs of resting on its laurels and instead is picking up its pace of innovation.

As early as 1891, the manufacture stood apart from its peers by combining two classical complications, the chronograph and the repeate, in a single timepiece, a move that created a path to developing its grand complication calibers. That historical innovation presaged a pairing of even greater intricacy more than a century later, as observed in the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique ‡ Quantiëme Perpètuel..

Now available in rose gold, this impressive model features the rare combination of a flying tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. An automatic movement created entirely in-house powers the watch and includes a gold oscillating weight engraved with a reproduction of the medal the company won in 1889 at the Paris Universal Exposition. The sapphire crystal window on the back of the 42mm case is essential to fully appreciate the movementís exquisite finishing and intricate engineering.

Tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring.

For the tourbillon’s instantly recognizable cylindrical balance spring, the company revives a watchmaking technology rarely employed today and updates it using modern methods. Compared to flat balance springs, the current standard, the coils of this cylindrical version descend like a spiral staircase, a shape that reduces contact between the coils and heightens performance. Indeed, the brand touts the Cylindrique Perpètuel as the most accurate perpetual calendar ever produced. Adding to the engaging design, the traditional bridge has been removed above the tourbillon cage to create a flying tourbillon that appears to levitate at 6 o’clock.

A marvel that fuses advanced craftsmanship and a keen affection for watchmaking history, the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique ‡ Quantiëme Perpètuel has already secured a place for itself as a benchmark of high horology.

World timer

Business Or Pleasure

If you spend a lot of time exploring the world or doing business in far-flung locales, the Duomëtre Unique Travel Time keeps you on time with an advanced movement that combines a world-timer function with a rare second time zone display that can be set to the minute.

A model of efficiency, the dial provides a great deal of information quickly. The globe that anchors the design visually is also a world time display orbited by a GMT ring that doubles as a day/night indicator. The home time appears at the right, opposite the travel time, which features a digital jump hour display.

Despite its mechanical complexity, the movement is easy to adjust. Begin by finding your time zone among the 24 GMT designations engraved on the back of the rose gold case and setting the GMT ring. So for example, to set the home time as New York City, you would use the pushers on the side of the case to advance the GMT ring so that -4 (the city’s GMT designation) lines ups with the triangular marker at the bottom of the dial. Once the home and travel displays are synchronized, the pushers rapidly adjust the second time zone display, forward or backward.

Here’s the really cool part. The minute hand for the travel time display can be set independently to account for locations that observe non-standard time zones. (All of India, for example, is off by 30 minutes from standard GMT.) This extremely rare feature makes the Unique Travel Time the only watch in the world with a second time zone display that can be set to the minute using a single crown.

Sophisticated Simplicity

While the manufacture is an expert at developing complex movements, it’s equally adept at understatement. Indeed, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most iconic watch is a study in artful simplicity.

The Reverso was created during the 1930s for polo players who requested a timepiece that could be worn safely during their rough and tumble play. To protect the crystal, the rectangular case swiveled so that the metal caseback faced front.

The Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 recalls the era when the model debuted with a warm, chocolate-colored dial inspired by a design from the companyís archive. As you would expect from its name, this model maintains a low profile with a case that is about 7mm thick. The custom-made strap brings the Reverso back to its sporting origins and is made by Casa Fagliano, an Argentinian workshop that specializes in polo boots.

That signature balance of watchmaking expertise and elegant design continues in a different collection with the Master Ultra Thin Moon 39.

Without a single extraneous detail, this round stainless steel watch distills each feature to its minimalist essence. Dagger-shaped hour markers against a silvered sunray dial are easily legible, yet have a pleasing effect. The economical design carries over to the display at the bottom, which combines indications for the date and moon phase. This efficiency extends to the proportions of the case, which measures 39mm across and about 5mm thick.

Memorable Meeting

For more than a century, Jaeger-LeCoultre has crafted timepieces for women, including delicate examples of exquisite jewelry watches sheathed in gold, diamonds and gemstones. In 1929, those creations for ladies sparked the invention of Calibre 101, which remains the smallest mechanical movement ever made.

And while iconic watches like the Reverso have long been available in styles and sizes adapted for women, the Rendez-Vous collection marks the first time that the manufacture has created a model from scratch expressly for female clients. Its introduction signals a respect for the unique considerations inherent in crafting a ladies’ watch. Aesthetic choices abound, starting with the graceful round case, which comes in different metals, can be set with diamonds, and paired with a strap or bracelet. The case is also available in four sizes that range from a petite 27.5mm version to a generously scaled 36mm model.

As the number of women who crave complicated watches grows steadily, the company continues to respond in kind with mechanical movements equipped with various functions. For those seeking everyday practicality, the Rendez-Vous Date and Rendez-Vous Night & Day both satisfy. And for those who desire higher complication, the Rendez-Vous collection includes perpetual calendar and tourbillon models, as well as the Rendez-Vous Celestial, which includes a rotating lapis lazuli disc that depicts the position of the constellations.

With its deep exploration of the aesthetic and mechanical possibilities of contemporary watchmaking, Jaeger-LeCoultre epitomizes the art of horology.

Rendez-Vous Date and Rendez-Vous Night & Day