One of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s finest releases for 2016 was also one of the easiest to miss. Firstly because it’s not a Reverso, secondly because it’s not really a ‘new’ release. We first saw the Master Ultra Thin (MUT) Perpetual Calendar back in 2013, but this year JLC treated this exceptionally stylish stainless steel version to a snazzy new black dial.
Perpetual Calendars are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment with ‘accessible’ offerings from Montblanc, Frederique Constant and now Baume & Mercier helping to popularise this complication combination. It’s important to note that accessible is a relative term, as all these examples are still north of $10k.
While they’re all attractive watches, for me none of them have the edge on the JLC in terms of looks or sheer élan. For me, this largely comes down to just how slender the watch is – 9.2mm thick for a perpetual calendar is very impressive – but also the harmonious design. Thirty-nine millimetres is a perfectly sized case, large enough to be contemporary, but still quite orthodox. And the dial is supremely well balanced; with no sense of the overcrowding or illegibility that can plague complex pieces like this. The only possible jarring note here is the year indicator at seven, included because the Calibre 868 doesn’t have a leap year indicator, instead they use the actual year.
Originally, the steel MUT Perpetual Calendar was released with a silvery, opaline dial, which makes the watch look like the epitome of mid-century classical watchmaking – it would not look out of place in a major auction houses catalogue of ‘fine and important timepieces.’ And even though the new satiny black dial uses exactly the same layout, it somehow feels more stylish, in much the same way as black tie from any era will always cut a finer figure than less formal tailoring. Jaeger-LeCoultre is regarded as a maker of movements and refined, discreet timepieces par excellence, and their latest perpetual calendar only serves to emphatically confirm the reputation.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar Australian pricing
The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, in steel with black dial, $26,000