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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SIHH 2012: Jaeger LeCoultre's offerings

Jaeger LeCoultre novelties for SIHH 2012: my take on the watches.

2012 might be the year of the re-issue. For JLC, the strategy is not different. They reissued and revised the Master Control series with aplomb. And reissued some Reversos...but do note that JLC might perhaps be seen as leading this trend, having started the 1931 Reverso re-edition in SIHH 2011.

However, in addition to the reissues, JLC has a trick up their sleeve...the Speherotourbillon - a beauty and a masterpiece.

But let's start the with the beautiful, and proceed to the great.


The re-editions to the Master Control line are the Master control in larger 39mm case, the Ultra Thin Reserve de Marche, and the Ultra Thin Tourbillon. The new Master Control is shown amongst the roses above and the Ultra Thin RDM below, now in a case only 8.89mm high.


Also, some newly re-worked Reversos.


I have always been interested and fascinated with the Reversos. Last year's 1931 reissue was marvellous. The return to elegance. Clean, nice art deco style. JLC resisted the temptation to make larger and larger watches, and the Reverso, now sporting the word "Reverso" on the dial, remains the petite beauty it once was. Inspired me to create this stylized, sepia toned image below, reminiscent of the heyday of style:


A new rose gold Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater is now also available. I was fascinated with this watch, originally released in 2011 in platinum when Jerome Lambert, CEO of JLC introduced during a lunch in Singapore.


In a restaurant, he joked that many makers lend on volume by placing their repeaters on a piece of paper or glass. But not JLC. He held the watch in the air, and released the repeater. Crystal clear strikes almost filled the room...remember this was in a restaurant, albeit in a private room, but it was far from quiet. Amazing.


Finish is quite good, with almost the entire striking mechanism viewable through the skeletonized glass dial.


But this year, available in rose gold. For me, this makes it more visually romantic...which I think is coherent with the complication of a repeater.

A new Duometer Quantieme Lunaire is also released. .


The C 381 movement sports a dual gear train movement (like the other Duometers). One train is now equipped with a calendar moonphase, and the other gear train to power the foudroyante seconds hand. I liked the juxtaposition of a calendar movement which the day of the month hand moving one revolution in one month, and a foudroyante hand which whizzs around one revolution every second.

On my wrist the 40.5mm rose gold case looks perfect:


And finally the piece de resistance...the Spherotourbillon:


JLC was one of the early pioneers of the multi axis tourbillon. Eric Coudray, then working for JLC created the Gyrotourbillon way back in 2004. And JLC has kept improving the Gyrotourbillon ever since. I wrote and photographed the last of the series...the Rose Gold Gyrotourbillon a while ago.


The Spherotourbillon is a little less complicated than the original Gyrotourbillon as it does not have a perpetual calendar and equation of time complication, but has a special zero reset function for the seconds hand, like the flyback function on some chronographs. This allows the user to reset the seconds hand to zero and wait for the time signal to release to allow for precise time-setting. This is perhaps the first tourbillon to do so. Lange tourbillons after the Cabaret Tourbillon feature the hack mechanism, where the tourbillon cage and as a result the balance is stopped for time setting. The Spherotourbillon zero reset, activated by a button at 10 o'clock does not stop the tourbillon(s), but merely reset the seconds hand which is driven by the second gear train...this being a Duometer the C.382 movement is equipped with dual gear trains.

Also, the tourbillon is now not a gyro, which will inscribe the entire sphere over time, but a conical one. One tourbillon, spinning at a rate of 30s per revolution is inclined at 20 degrees. Within this outer cage is another tourbillon.


I find the tourbillon, now equipped with a cylindrical hairspring (like the Gyro2) made by Lange in Glashutte, to be mesmerising. Reminds me of what Greubel Forsey is doing with their Incline 24 Double Tourbillon, except the outer tourbillon in the JLC is flying and sans bridge to support the upper, dial side.

The dial is very beautiful, and a much more accomplished design and finish than the rather garage look and feel of the original Gyrotourbillon.

The movement finish is also gorgeous. Click on the 2 images below to bring up the 1920 wide wallpaper.


I particularly like the bridge layout...magnificent, and aestetically pleasing. The treatment of the bridges like a sunburst is also visually arresting. And I love the wolf's teeth used in the double barrels. Old world artisanal charm.


Here are some closeups of the spherotourbillon, going through its throngs...much like a wobbling top, but precise, and mesmerising.








A video of this amazing spherotourbillon is in the works...and will be released soon.

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