Jaeger-LeCoultre has looked to the stars for this year’s collection, and furnished the majority of its new models with complications or specific features relating to the heavenly bodies and their movement through the sky. This overarching theme is an opportunity for the brand to demonstrate the multiple facets of its technical prowess. The Le Sentier watchmaker is indeed at the head of a repertoire of skills rarely encountered among the great names in Fine Watchmaking, such that its expertise in the development and manufacturing of movements sets it apart. “Jaeger-LeCoultre has the ability to interpret the same complication in several ways,” says Marketing and Creation Executive Director Stéphane Belmont. “Generally these evolve from a simple version to another, far more complex iteration. Our role is to inform on these differences to explain possible variations in price. The moonphase embodies this principle this year. A classic moonphase shows a one-day discrepancy every two and a half years whereas one of our models has a moonphase that is accurate for 3,887 years.”
3,887 years and one day
The watch in question is the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon. It incorporates an inclined tourbillon with a cylindrical balance spring, three essential elements in the quest for precision. Also, the patented Dual Wing system reduces variations in energy supplied to the movement, thanks to a construction whereby the additional function runs separately from the base calibre, using power supplied by its own barrel. The moonphase, crafted from lapis lazuli and gold, deviates by just one day in 3,887 years, making it one of the most precise in the world.
Solar time, sidereal time
The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication, with its orbital flying tourbillon, reproduces the path of the Sun based on sidereal time, which is calculated according to the position of the stars, Sirius in particular, rather than the Earth. The titanium tourbillon carriage, mounted on a ball bearing, makes one complete anti-clockwise rotation in 23 hours, 56 minutes and four seconds on a dial depicting a map of the constellations. A small sun circles the edge of the dial once in 24 hours to show solar time. The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication also incorporates a minute repeater, which has been modified since its inception in 2009. Initially positioned on the front, the gongs have been moved to the rear but are still connected to the sapphire crystal for better resonance. At 80 decibels, their chime is 25% more powerful. Jaeger-LeCoultre has achieved this by increasing the space inside the case and by reducing the residual noise produced by the minute-repeater governor from 40 db to 20 db, which is the level of an empty room. This invention was previously presented in the Hybris Mechanica 2. The pallet lever and the escape wheel are in silicon; the balance wheel is in gold. The case has been endowed with more supple forms and richer finishing.
A heart of stone
More subdued, the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel includes a cylindrical balance spring beating at 4Hz (28,800 vph), a rare feature in an escapement. The grained dial is lacquered in royal blue. The dial of the Master Calendar Meteorite is, as its name suggests, sculpted from an authentic meteorite that struck the Earth more than 900 million years ago. Its crystal structure is the result of the extreme heat then sudden cold experienced on entering the atmosphere. The discs used to make the dials are very slowly cut so as not to generate an increase in temperature which could alter the natural pattern of the meteorite. They are then treated with ruthenium and varnished with zapon.
Rendezvous with the stars
Women have two appointments with the Rendez-Vous collection. The Rendez-Vous Celestial introduces an unusual dial in orange-tinted aventurine with, in its centre, an elliptical opening. The disc beneath this opening reproduces the starry sky and rotates once in 23 hours, 56 minutes and four seconds, an almost imperceptible movement whose symbolic value will not escape anyone with an interest in astronomy. A zodiac calendar on the rotating disc indicates the position of the constellations at any moment of the year by means of an annual calendar which regulates time display and measurement. The Rendez-Vous Moon is doubtless one of the most accurate moon-phase watches for women, varying by just one day in 972 years. Crafted from mother-of-pearl, the moon is surrounded by a twinkling night sky.