Editor’s note: I really don’t need a moon phase (heck, I really don’t need a mechanical watch, but that’s something else entirely), but I really want one. There’s just something so pointlessly romantic about the whole proposition of knowing your wax from your wane that just gets me (in fact, that same sentiment applies to mechanical watches in general). And one of the most charming options in recent times is this beauty from JLC …
‘Novelty’ is one of the most abused words in the watch industry. Practically, it’s used to describe the steady stream of new models and designs being produced by watchmaking brands. But on top of that, it conveys a sense of newness and — marketing departments fervently hope — excitement. For example, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 2017 novelties were their Master Control trilogy — they excited people, and rightfully so. And while this grey-dialled Master Ultra Thin Moon is a new release, it’s not really a novelty — it didn’t make headlines at SIHH, and doesn’t showcase any innovations in mechanics or material. But despite this (or perhaps because of it), this serious, ghostly grey Master Ultra Thin Moon is an exceptionally beautiful piece of watchmaking, the sort that JLC excels at.
If you’re not familiar with the MUT Moon (as it’s sometimes known), here’s the two-minute rundown. First introduced in 2012, this perfectly sized 39mm white gold dress watch is a case study on just how well Jaeger-LeCoultre does thin watchmaking. At 9.9mm tall it’s slender, but not exceptionally so, partially due to the complicated nature of the movement. On the other hand, it does feel pleasingly solid on the wrist, avoiding that anxiety-inducing delicate wafer vibe that is so often part and parcel of the ultra slim experience. And, as you’d expect from JLC, the movement is lovely. The Calibre 925 is an automatic, well finished with a pink gold rotor. The time/date/moon set up necessitates 246 parts and is good for 43 hours of power reserve. Finishing is superior, and the whole kit and caboodle has been tested for 1000 hours (nigh on six weeks) to ensure it will stand up to the rigours of the real world.
While the insides of this watch are important — and a big part of the story — for me it’s all about that dial. A subtle, sliver grey starburst that is refinement incarnate. The design of this watch is an exercise in textural contrast. Everything except the night sky of the moon phase is grey, silver or white, which you would think would cause a washed-out look. Nothing could be further from the truth. The satin-y dial provides a soft backdrop to the hard polished facets of the hour markers and dauphine hands, while the minimal white text is present, legible but in no way obtrusive. The domed sapphire crystal and narrow bezel ensure that this harmonious, balanced design is always shown in the best possible light. Beauty, thy name is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon in white gold Australian price
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon, reference Q1363540, grey dial and white gold, $26,500