I like to imagine this time of year as an Advent calendar for watch lovers, with pre-release announcements being dropped each and every day as the countdown to SIHH 2019 ticks ever closer. Today’s delectable delight comes courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and not only is it new, it’s also blue, and delivers an impressively novel take on one of their classics. Say hello to the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel. Since its beginnings in the famed Vallée de Joux, Jaeger-LeCoultre have been driven by precision. A search for accuracy that has seen the brand develop more than 1200 calibres and earned it the honourable title of “the watchmaker of watchmakers” – with many of JLC’s high-end valley neighbours calling on the manufacturer to help supply them with movements. The brand-new Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel not only displays that generations-old technical know-how but also highlights some of the Maison’s other in-house métiers, namely, their incredibly skilled handcrafts of guillochage and enamelling. Limited to 100 pieces worldwide, each dial is meticulously crafted by hand, with patience being not just a virtue but an absolute necessity during the entire manufacturing process. Culminating in a stunning combination of a captivating shade of intense blue… Read More
There’s a lot of options in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris collection. But I think this one might be my favourite, the Polaris Date. It’s a choice purists might find a little weird. After all, this is an uncomplicated watch, lacking either the classic alarm or the more impressive chronograph/world timer functionality. And while it’s not particularly complicated, it’s not entirely uncomplicated. I’m committing that most cardinal of watch nerd sins — opting for a watch with a date window. Really, though, I think the Polaris Date is the key piece in the Polaris collection. It’s got a lot going for it. First of all, the case is pretty awesome: 42mm across, and 13.1mm high places it in proper Goldilocks territory, and the finishes are, as you should expect from JLC, outstanding. And while the leather and rubber straps on offer are great, I think the new ‘H-link’ bracelet is great, and adds a dressy touch. Interestingly enough, even though we photographed this watch on the bracelet, it’s not offered on the bracelet as a standard option, and would have to be a special order – something worth considering If the case and bracelet are pretty great, I’m even more into the dial…. Read More
It’s hard to overstate the significance of the Polaris collection for Jaeger-LeCoultre. In a world dominated by the round steel sports watch, JLC’s line-up has leaned heavily towards the dressy and rectangular. The Polaris, a fully evolved collection, changed that landscape overnight, and did it in style. One of the strongest offerings is the chronograph. It’s a watch that does a lot of things right, many of which should be immediately apparent. First of all, there’s the size — 42mm is just about right for this sort of sporty classic style, and at 11.9mm high it’s not as top heavy as you might expect. And then there’s the lack of a date window. Sure, it’s not practical, but it’s a move that’s sure to win lots of discerning nods from the watch cognoscenti. The dual register design is strong, and results in a very well-balanced dial, and a remarkably uncluttered one for a chrono. The Polaris DNA is there, too: the ‘12’ and ‘6’, the oversized trapezoid-shaped markers. All present and correct. The combination of rich, summery blue in a range of textures ensures this watch is a looker from all angles, and even moving away from the dial, there’s… Read More
Earlier this week, Jaeger-LeCoultre held the Australian launch of their brand new Polaris collection at Carriageworks in Sydney, and it was — to borrow Neil Patrick Harris’ line — legendary. In watchland, the Polaris is a legend in its own right (a watch I incidentally had the pleasure of seeing in its various stages of assembly), so it was only appropriate that Jaeger-LeCoultre assembled some local legends to celebrate its arrival on our shores. Sporting legend John Eales (this guy) officiated over the launch of the sporty line, dropping surprising titbits like the fact that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Vallée de Joux manufacture has its own rugby team (the fact that Eales politely suggested their skills were better suited to watchmaking is beside the point). Eales wasn’t the only legend in attendance; entertainment was provided not by your typically muted string quartet or jazz band, but rather by Australian rock royalty. Darren Middleton opened with a little song called My Happiness that he happened to have co-written while in legendary Brisbane band Powderfinger. Shortly after, he was joined by the equally legendary Kram (this guy) on drums, and finally by Davey Lane — guitarist for You Am I. Not a bad lineup for… Read More
Earlier this week we showed you a behind-the-scenes peek at how Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris is put together. Well, we kick it up a notch and have a look at some of the brand’s most complicated — and most beautiful — pieces, find out a little bit about how they’re made, and meet the talented artisans who make them. Central to this story is Christian Laurent, JLC’s master watchmaker, a man with a twinkle in his eye and a clear passion for his work. During my visit, Mr Laurent presented JLC’s high complications, running through the brand’s achievements — innovative watches like the Duomètre and the Gyrotourbillon — which clearly demonstrate Jaeger-LeCoultre’s high-end credentials. Speaking to him later, Mr Laurent expanded on the importance of humans in making those watches: “We don’t make hundreds of pieces; for high complications it’s always very limited numbers — only the human hand is capable of doing these things.”
Holding a watch in your hands, and wearing it on your wrist is one thing. But seeing where that small, highly precise piece of machinery was designed, and how it comes to life is something completely different, as I found out when I visited Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufacture in the Vallée de Joux earlier this year, and saw, firsthand, how the Polaris is made. Of course I had seen the watches before, when the new collection was presented at SIHH, but seeing them at the Salon, accompanied by glossy power points, held by white-gloved hands in orderly display trays, is completely different to seeing them in their birthplace. There are certain phrases that we’re prone to trotting out in the watch industry, expressions like ‘in-house’ and ‘hand-finished’, which become a lot more real when you visit that house, and shake the hands of the people who do the finishing. Seeing the very human care and time that goes into these watches — on every step of the way — is a really worthwhile reminder that these watches are about so much more than telling the time.
As far as boss complications go, the world timer is pretty up there. Not only is it technically impressive, it’s also visually arresting: the city ring and typically colourful layout make walking around with one of these on your wrist the watch equivalent of playing Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World (Girls)’ wherever you go. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time takes it to the next level by adding — yes, you guessed it — a flying tourbillon into the mix, for that extra horological pop. But before we get to the tourbillon, let’s take a step back and talk Geophysic. The Geophysic collection, relaunched a few years ago, is a typically sober and not-too-dressy take on a scientist’s watch. A key feature of the line is the true second, which sees the hand move in crisp, one-second increments rather than the typical mechanical sweep. The true second featured on the regular production world timer, but hasn’t made it to this Tourbillon model. In fact, any form of seconds hand has dropped from the equation, to give all the more space for the flying tourbillon (the first ever integrated into a world timer), that forms the heart of calibre 948. For me, the… Read More
One of the strongest, all-round collections of SIHH was, without a doubt, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris. Coming off a strong 2017 lineup, JLC hit all the right notes with their brand new Polaris collection. While this five-strong family of watches is clearly influenced by the Polaris of yore (for more on that, check out Andy’s look at the origins of the model), this is more interpretation than pure homage. Sure, there’s the Polaris Memovox, which is the closest the collection gets to a one-for-one reissue, but there are also relatively simple automatic and date models (the date is my pick of the litter, FWIW). The Polaris DNA is strong in these models, thanks to the dial, as well as the dual crown layout, but it also works wonderfully in the more complex Chronograph and Chronograph WT options. All told, the 2018 Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris family is considered and commercial in equal measure, and already looks set to be one of the year’s highlights.