Whether it comes to fragments from asteroids or of even more impalpable origins in the comets wandering through the solar system, meteorites lend themselves to all manner of inner fantasies. Their ages, estimated at millions or hundreds of millions of years, defy our imagination. Their rarity is equally fascinating, since very few of them actually manage to reach the surface of the earth. Known as “shooting stars” when they light up summer nights, or “bolides” when they are large or bright enough to be seen by day, meteorites leave a characteristic luminous trail when entering the atmosphere. An authentic invitation to make a wish…
Once they have landed on or been buried several centimetres into the earth, meteorites often remain unnoticed, if not by the experienced eyes of those who make a profession of gathering them. Meteorite hunters distinguish between those they have actually seen falling and those that are lucky finds. Connoisseurs have long considered Antarctica as a sort of Eldorado, since the ice cap fosters a concentration of these stones that rise to the surface when blue ice is eroded by katabatic (down-slope) winds. This continent is however now the exclusive preserve of scientific meteorite hunters and any commercial exploitation is prohibited.
Revealing the beauty of a celestial fragment
On this new watch, the strange and fascinating meteorite stone used for the dial shakes up the traditionally pure, understated aesthetic of the Master Calendar. Composed of a single block of meteorite discovered and officially registered in Sweden, it comes from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
However, its iron content makes this material difficult to work with. To get an aesthetically perfect dial, this block of meteorite is cut into several thin plates in a process involving countless precautions, until the exact plate corresponding to the demands imposed by Jaeger-LeCoultre is achieved. Still in its rough state at this stage, the meteorite must undergo several preparatory phases before revealing the structure of its stone that features a unique pattern shown by each cut. At the end of a lengthy and delicate procedure, it can at last express the beauty that it has stored up across several million years. The experience is unutterably moving, as if a part of the universe were converging towards the stone dial, at last within reach.
The earth’s spinning on its axis determines the length of the day, while its rotation around the sun defines the year. Likewise, moon phases – and the 29-day approximate gap between two new moons – are behind the duration of the week and month. Each major civilisation has sought to convey through a calendar the various celestial movements it has observed.
Calendar-related indications are among the most useful a watch can offer. Representing the iconic calendar complication, the complete calendar of the Master Calendar model displays the perpetual calendar by means of a long hand tipped with a red moon crescent sweeping around a scale around the dial rim graduated from 1 to 31. It also indicates the day of the week and the month in twin apertures at 12 o’clock. Featured on certain Renaissance pocket watches before being more widely used in the 19th century, this numerical display principle serves to catch attention and focus it firmly on the present.
Finally, the complete calendar indicates the various moon phases – new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter – in the traditional form of this emblematic heavenly body emerging from between two clouds and rising up against a star-studded sky.
Carefully balanced visual effect
The cleverly mastered dial architecture ensures immediate and pleasing readings of the information, with hours and minutes shown by dauphine hands and small seconds at 6 o’clock.
Everything is governed by a will to achieve the right balance between watchmaking expertise, aesthetic elegance and optimal comfort. With a 39 mm-diameter, this10.6 mm-thick case is designed to adapt to the curve of any wrist. Its subtle discretion could easily make one forget the considerable efforts deployed by the master artisans in fitting an automatic movement with a full calendar inside such a pleasantly sized case. This concern for detail runs all the way to the very heart of the watch. The sapphire crystal case-back of the Master Calendar reveals the intricate workings of Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 866 and its delicate finishes testifying to infinite patience. They reflect the soul and the rigorous discipline of the artisans exercising their craft in the Manufacture based in the Vallée de Joux, for whom every gesture is imbued with true meaning.
The new Master Calendar remains true to its initial philosophy of setting an aesthetically harmonious and perfectly readable stage for time in its entirety. As if one were able to capture the moment in hand within a single glance.