It’s been a tough year for the luxury watch industry, and though things seem to be picking up now, the mood at SIHH in January could be described as reserved at best. One of the shining lights in a muted firmament was Jaeger-LeCoultre. Specifically, their newest Master Control release was a trilogy of watches celebrating the line’s 25th anniversary. Offered in date, chronograph and dual time configurations, these three watches shared JLC’s highly regarded movements, simple steel cases and vintage-inspired sector dials that transformed them from conservative classics into conversation starters. However, these watches didn’t just impress because of their style but also because of their refreshingly sensible price points. Other brands would do well to follow JLC’s sterling example. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Australian pricing Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, $8300 Master Chronograph, $11,700, Master Geographic $13,900.
I’m on the record as saying “I’m not a chronograph guy”, and, by and large, that’s true. However, there are exceptions, and this year’s Master Chronograph from Jaeger-LeCoultre is definitely one of them. Like the rest of the collection, it’s a smart, simple design that’s clearly vintage in inspiration but doesn’t suffer from retro overload. In addition to the good looks, JLC has deilvered the perfectly sized package at 40mm, and the movement is, as you would expect from the brand, top notch. In fact, the only negative point for me is that such a great movement is hidden away behind a solid back. But that’s really the only hole I can pick in what is otherwise an exceptionally pretty picture. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph Australian Pricing Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph in steel, $11,700
Twenty-five years ago Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Master Control collection, a line of watches dedicated to the sort of traditional high-quality watchmaking for which the Le Sentier-based house is so well known. The pure style of the Master Control sits well with the credibility afforded by JLC’s ‘1000 Hours Control’ testing program, in which the subject watch undergoes six weeks of extensive testing, covering off everything from accuracy to impact. And while these days this sort of rigorous testing procedure is increasingly par for the course, in 1992 JLC was well ahead of the pack. The potent combination of conservative good looks, horological credibility and a fair price meant that the Master Control collection has a well-earned reputation for offering exceptional quality. This year the offering only got better, as Jaeger-LeCoultre released a trio of anniversary watches with some pretty special vintage-inspired dials. The most simple of the three is the Master Control Date, followed by the more complicated Master Chronograph. Today, though, we’re going to look at the most complex offering of the three, the travel-oriented Master Geographic. Basically the Master Geographic is a dual-time watch with a city indicator. To me, the most remarkable achievement of the watch is how… Read More
There’s a running joke in the Time+Tide office about my proclivity for “beautiful blue” dials –I once managed to say it a few too many times in a short video review and, well, it sort of stuck. But in the case of this new version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s classic Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche the accolade beautiful blue is well and truly deserved. JLC specialise in ultra-thin watches, and this design of the Réserve de Marche has been a part of the collection since 2012. It is an exceptional, traditionally styled 39mm steel watch with a complicated-but-balanced dial layout consisting of a radial date at two and a power reserve (which gives the model its name) at 10. There’s a small seconds subdial at six that rounds off the dial. Few brands putting together a watch with this cocktail of complications would be able to pull it off with quite the degree of elegance that JLC manages. Partially this is down to the surprisingly restrained use of text on the dial, but mostly it’s because of the clarity of the design. The applied arrowhead markers and sharply faceted dauphine hands are perfect. However, there’s no doubt that the real star here… Read More
This Jaeger-LeCoultre is a great example of just how true the old saying about assumptions is. You see, it’s easy to pigeonhole JLC as producing only fine, delicate and dressy watches – classic Reversos, or smart vintage-inspired pieces, for example. And while it’s true that this style of watchmaking is their bread and butter, that doesn’t mean they’re not supremely well-equipped to belt out a truly excellent contemporary piece when they put their mind to it. This latest version of the Master Compressor Chronograph ceramic illustrates the point perfectly. This stealthy-luxe sports watch was released at SIHH with (appropriately enough) zero fanfare, but that’s OK, because the matt black ceramic case with pink gold details makes an impressive statement all on its own. Aside from the new colourway, not much has changed from when the piece was first released in 2014. The case is quite large at 46mm, and the crown features the patented compression key, which, when activated, means the case is good for 100m of water resistance. The calibre 757 movement includes a chronograph and a second timezone, and is good for 65 hours of power reserve. In many ways this watch is similar to a supercar. Sure,… Read More
Jaeger-LeCoultre did everything right at SIHH. Their collection surprised and delighted in equal measure with a little something for everyone, from high-end tourbillons to fresh takes on the feminine Rendez-Vous, and sexy new variants of old favourites (we’re looking at you, black and pink gold Master Compressor). But it was the trio of watches comprising the refreshed Master range that really stole the show. That’s not just thanks to their undeniably handsome looks, but also their smart pricing, and the fact JLC seems willing to listen to what consumers want, and offer an on-trend addition to their typically timeless fare. The only question left to answer is, which do you prefer: the Date, Chronograph or the Geographic?
If you like watches (you do) and exist in a digital age (also affirmative) there’s a good chance you’ve encountered the garrulous Adam Craniotes – heck you might have even seen his tour of NYC. And if you’ve come across @Craniotes, you’ve probably heard the story of his IWC Perpetual Calendar, and how he had to borrow cash off his mum to get it, and the Delilah-esque toll she exacted. (We’re not going to tell you that story, but you can read up on it here if you like.) On this occasion, we asked Adam to tell us about his Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Alarm Navy SEALs (the Incursion Edition, just in case you were wondering). As with all things this modern-day raconteur is involved with, there’s a tale behind the watch. A tale of deceit and skulduggery we’re sure will resonate with many of you…
For many consumers and manufacturers, now is not the time for extravagant, outlandish watches. That’s not to say SIHH doesn’t have its fair share of outlandish, extravagant and (it must be said) amazing timepieces – but they’re very much a niche proposition. The vast majority of real-world buyers are after something simpler and in a soft and uncertain economy the versatile round steel watch, free of gimmick and full of quality is an appealing option. Happily, this year SIHH is delivering quite a few watches that fit this bill. For me, one of the best is the revivified Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection. For the past 25 years, these clean, round watches have been the starting point for many who’ve wanted to get into the brand, but (for whatever reason) haven’t heeded the call of the Reverso. These new Master Controls are pitch perfect heritage-ish watches that do everything right. The collection includes a dual time and a chronograph that we’ll show you down the track, but for now we’d like to focus on the Master Control Date. Before we get to that stunning dial, it would be remiss of us not to mention the well-proportioned 39mm steel case, which is très slim… Read More