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The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 948 worldtimer has a dial that requires 70 hours of work alone The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 948 worldtimer has a dial that requires 70 hours of work alone

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 948 worldtimer has a dial that requires 70 hours of work alone

Zach Blass
  • JLC debuts a new interpretation of the Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 with a green enamel dial that also incorporates guillochage and lacquering.
  • The “Universal Tourbillon” makes a complete circuit around the dial in 24 hours, echoing the Earth’s orbit around the sun.
  • Limited to 20 pieces, with pricing available upon request.

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Buffy recently took the time to set the record straight on how to use the term “horology” properly, so let me get it right. The conflation of the term stems from Swiss brands constantly touting the “horlogerie” and “savoir-faire” of their “maisons”. What do these terms mean? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I simply direct you to the image of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 above. Simply a new iteration, rather than a completely new model or movement (although simply is likely the worst word to choose to describe this watch), this green and pink gold remix is courtesy of JLC’s Métiers Rares atelier. This division specialises in rare handcrafts, and is a textbook example and refresher of just how skilled Jaeger-LeCoultre is in the realm of watchmaking.

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At 43mm in diameter and 14.3mm thick, this 18k pink gold case can by no means be described as compact or slender. But, as we saw with the recent Duomètre novelties, the case form does have an ergonomic sensibility with its cambered lugs. The finishing of the case is objectively exquisite, a Mozart-level symphony of a largely polished finish balanced with brushed and microblasted accents. The front of the case and lugs, and the conical bezel, are where you find this largely mirror-polished finishing. The caseband introduces a rich radial brush around its perimeter. Looking at the 3 o’clock side of the case, we see all of the finishes converge with the sides of the scalloped lugs also polished and framing a microblasted inner surface. Interrupting this is a sort of polished medallion that’s sandwiched within thin brushed lines that break as you reach the edge of each lug. Fun fact: this complex case is comprised of 40 total parts. If this sort of case decoration and construction were not enough, the dial takes things even further.

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Aside from the fact the in-house calibre 948 is a very complex movement (which we will get to shortly), the greater thickness of the watch results in part from the amount of depth such a three-dimensional dial requires. The carefully hand-bent hours and minutes hands, 24-hour indication, and the domed grid of the globe motif is comprised of laser-cut 18k pink gold. Each continent is then hand-decorated with champlevé enamel – perfectly imperfect in hue uniformity to give it earthy texture. A step below this upper layer, beneath the gold global grid, is a dial plate decorated with translucent blue-green lacquer and hand-guillochéd with a wavy pattern to create an image of the ocean. A single dial requires 70 hours of work, and with this being a limited edition of 20 pieces, it will theoretically require 1,400 hours (58 and one-third days) to create all twenty dials alone. And we haven’t yet touched on its complex calibre.

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The Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 does not only have a 48-hour, automatic, in-house movement that powers both world time (with 24-hour indication) and flying tourbillon complications. It is also a “universal tourbillon”, meaning that the escapement makes a full revolution around the dial once every 24 hours. The tourbillon itself completes a rotation in 60 seconds, but throughout the day the aperture and mechanism slowly advances around the entire dial – like the Earth completing a circuit around the sun. Comprised of a total 388 components, when the calibre 948 was first introduced, it was the first-ever movement to combine a worldtimer complication with a flying tourbillon.

It is easy for us mere mortals to dismiss any watch labeled with “price upon request”. As much as it stings, this will only ever be affordable to a lucky few, but it’s also one of those examples when you can take joy in just the artistry of it, and be glad it exists.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 pricing and availability

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The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 is a limited edition of 20 pieces. Price: on request

Brand Jaeger-LeCoultre
Model Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948
Case Dimensions 43mm (D) x 14.13mm (T)
Case Material 18k pink gold
Water Resistance 50 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front and back
Dial Green translucent lacquer, wavy guilloché, champlevé enamel
Bracelet Black alligator leather, 18k pink gold folding clasp
Movement Calibre 948, in-house, automatic
Power Reserve 48 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, universal flying tourbillon, world time
Availability 20 pieces
Price On request