Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 987
A superlative new movement
The first Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre to associate a tourbillon with a perpetual calendar comprises exactly 401 parts. Its fascinatingly original conception is based on a split-level structure. The dial is divided between an upper part displaying the hours and minutes as well as the perpetual calendar indications, and a lower part on which a slight difference of level enables the proeminent tourbillon to sparkle as if in a jewel case of light.
Nonetheless, elegance must also take account of performance and the entire construction meets stringent demands in terms of sturdiness, exactitude and lightness. The large 11.5 mg.cm2 variable-inertia balance is equipped with adjustment screws around its rim in order to ensure the long-term constancy of a rating that remains unaltered even in case of impacts. As one would expect from a high-precision movement, it oscillates at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. The lever features a more compact shape that results in significant energy saving, since it brings the escape-wheel closer to the centre of the tourbillon. Moreover, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmakers and engineers have set the finishing touch to this accomplishment by using a grade 5 titanium carriage which is so light that it enables them to create a 78-part tourbillon escapement weighing a mere 0.28 grams!
A genuine masterpiece of innovation, the perpetual calendar displays the date, day of the week and month, while automatically taking account of the length of the months and the leap-year cycle. To achieve this feat, the movement must be endowed with a mechanical memory of 1,461 days, meaning exactly four years. Its complexity is such that it requires several hundred parts composing the various gear trains and levers. Finally, the movement is equipped with a lubricant-free unidirectional rotor, since tests conducted within the Manufacture have shown that winding in a single direction is in fact more efficient than bidirectional winding.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 947R:
a minute repeater and a two-week power reserve
Above and beyond the extraordinary characteristics that have already propelled Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 947 to the rank of a truly exceptional watch mechanism, the new Calibre 947R is the first Jaeger-LeCoultre movement to associate a minute repeater with a regulatortype display. In 2005, the launch of Calibre 947 had caused a sensation, with its patented crystal gong that represents a major breakthrough in the field of sound. The gong heel was welded to the sapphire crystal in order to draw full advantage from the celerity properties of sapphire crystal and thus increase the intensity and purity of the sound vibration emitted. Meanwhile, the gongs were made from a secret-formula material that was and remains exclusive to Jaeger- LeCoultre.
Nonetheless, since any discovery – however revolutionary – emerging at Jaeger-LeCoultre is necessarily subject to subsequent improvements, all manner of technical innovations have been added to this calibre which is continuing to write history in terms of the use of sound in watchmaking. The section of the gongs has since adopted a progressive shape, tapered towards the end in order to increase the duration of the sound. Moreover, this section now also features a square appearance in order to intensify the sound volume by a better strike of the hammer. Finally, the all-of-a-piece construction of the gong and its heel serves to reduce the losses in energy and thus to improve the propagation of the sound.
Endowed with an exceptional two-week power reserve, the Master Grande Tradition à Répétition Minutes undoubtedly deserved a face to match its remarkable musical properties. In order to grace it with this classical originality, the designers of the Grande Maison have drawn inspiration from the typical layout of the former reference clocks, known as regulators. Formerly used to check the rate of watches, regulators were distinguished by their dial featuring the two main hands positioned on separate axes in order to guarantee precision and facilitate minute read-off. This system enables the time indicators to pursue their respective path in a perfectly independent manner and eliminates any potential sources of friction or contact, which represent potential hindrances to the smooth running of the watch mechanism. The regulator display remains to this day a complication reserved for particularly high-precision watches.
This Master Grande Tradition is the only watch to combine a minute repeater with a two-week power reserve and a crystal gong. This model also features an exceptionally refined and understated presentation of the information. The small seconds at 6 o’clock provides the additional accuracy required by modern daily life, while the hours glide around a subdial at 12 o’clock and the minutes are displayed by a central hand. Located between 7 and 8 o’clock, the power reserve echoes the barrel torque indicator placed opposite between 4 and 5 o’clock. In an ultimate touch of sophistication, the two minute repeater hammers are visible through a dial opening at 4 o’clock, each bearing the inscription “MINUTE” or “HEURE”, depending on which gong they strike.
A tribute to the grand horological tradition
The peerlessly refined characteristics of the models in the Master Grande Tradition collection are, as their name implies, a tribute to the grand watchmaking tradition. A new case, meticulously crafted exclusively from precious materials, symbolises the art of decoration inherent to exceptional creations: the designers of the Manufacture have managed to create a play on contrasts between polished and smoothed surfaces to further enliven the face of the watch. The flanks are smoothed, while the upper part of the lugs and the case-back are polished. The rounded polished bezel accentuates the technical appearance of the line and the finely fluted crown is distinguished by a face adorned with a polished JL logo. This concern for detail is echoed in the proportions of the case and the design of the new dials accentuated by the alliance between originality and respect for traditional values. The new dial style will be a key signature feature of the creations in the Master Grande Tradition line, thanks to the systematic alternation of surfaces graced with a velvet-finish or Clous de Paris hobnail guilloché motif. The dauphine hands underscore the classical style of the watches featuring a chapter ring bearing hand-applied hour-markers rather than numerals.
An expert in traditional skills, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre has kept alive for the past 175 years a range of time-honoured decorative techniques, some of which had at one point appeared doomed to extinction. Nonetheless, the constant innovations developed in the laboratories of the Manufacture require the decoration specialists to display constantly renewed inventiveness in the application of these methods, which quite obviously existed well before the use of high-tech materials came into play. This makes the exercise of these arts a perpetual challenge, vividly embodied in the titanium models. While the extreme lightness of this material is a favourable factor in enhancing their precision, its structure nonetheless makes it extremely hard to work with.
Refined ornamentation for exceptional models
Each component is designed and decorated so as to form an horological work of art illustrating the dexterity, the know-how and the virtuosity of the decorative workshops within the Manufacture. The surfaces are decorated with Clous de Paris, double “côtes soleillées”, circular graining, double snailing, or simply satin-brushed to accentuate the graphic strength of these splendid models. The balance-cock of the Master Grande Tradition à Répétition Minutes is hand-engraved, while the 22-carat gold oscillating weight is graced with a three-dimensional Clous de Paris motif and the unique tourbillon bridge is entirely hand decorated. All the steel parts are smoothed and bevelled, while the bridges and mainplate, made from non-treated nickel silver for the Répétition Minutes version, feature hand-drawn edges as well as raised and polished angles. The adjustment screws are blued and the chaton screws are rhodium-plated, in harmony with the traditions of the array of otherwise rare crafts still practiced at Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Representing an authentic coalition between an extraordinary horological heritage and an irresistibly innovative spirit, the two inaugural creations of the Master Grande Tradition line prefigure the destiny of this collection that is writing a new chapter in the history of the Manufacture. They shape the contours of an unprecedented reality in which beauty sculpts time, imbued with the harmony between noble materials and ornamental refinements, between technical sophistication and artistic creativity, in order to celebrate through timekeepers the eternal elegance of the passing hours and days.