Editor’s note: Much of the ‘what’ of a watch can be summed up in the technical, the hard numbers and facts of the spec sheet. But there’s an element — an X factor — that transcends this clinical description, and transforms a watch from an object into an artwork. This Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche is a watch that oozes with that X factor …
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 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 is the dial. The blue-lacquered dial has a subtle starburst, which gives it a rich, lustrous quality that’s hard to ignore. This is one of those circumstances where a picture truly does say a thousand words.
The visual treats continue on the caseback, thanks to the Calibre 938, a 4Hz movement that has been tested for 1000 hours with a decent 43 hours of power reserve. The movement is finished to JLC’s customarily high standards, with Geneva striping very much in evidence. The solid-gold rotor, mounted on ceramic ball bearings, is the proverbial cherry on top.
This beautiful new version of the MUT Réserve de Marche proves that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when designing a new watch.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche Australian price
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Réserve de Marche, steel, $12,100