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Review: Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11 – Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon

by Peter Chong on July 11, 2014

Jaeger LeCoultre has kept pushing the outer edges of haute horology with the Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11 is no different. To make claim to the title thinnest minute repeater, many special innovations are pulled into play. We discover them in this article.

 

The Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11. Ultra Thin, Minute repeating, flying tourbillon.

The Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11. Ultra Thin, Minute repeating, flying tourbillon.

 

The arresting physical beauty of the watch in its elegant, slim case, and textured dial initially captivates one’s attention. And soon, the eye wanders, and realise that the tourbillon peeking from the opening in the dial is not just a flying tourbillon, but also one which is sans carriage. The balance is totally open to be admired…no bridge, no cage to block the view. Just the pure balance, vibrating in full vigour, spinning on its own axis as any tourbillon would, completely free. Amazing sight.

 

JLC Hybris Mechanica 11 dial detail.

JLC Hybris Mechanica 11 dial detail. The entire balance wheel is open to be admired. As can be clearly seen here, the balance spring, the escape wheel is clearly visible. Note also the slots cut on the dial, and the peripheral rotor visible through the slots.

 

Making the tourbillon flying, meaning removing the upper support from the tourbillon allows JLC to make the movement thinner…this is step 1 towards ultra thin status. No upper bridge equals a thinner movement. Step 2 is to also make the mainspring barrels flying as well. In this case, there remains an upper bridge as can bee seen on the movement through the sapphire crystal back. The flying side of the barrel is on the dial side, where the barrel is not held by a bridge or a cock, but by a pin on its own pinion. Step 3 is to move the self winding rotor into the periphery of the movement. The peripheral rotor can be seen through the slots cut in the dial as it rotates while winding the watch.

 

JLC Hybris Mechanica case back, showing the magnificent movement.

JLC Hybris Mechanica case back, showing the magnificent movement.
Mechanical automatic movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 362, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand; 45-hour power reserve; 21,600 vibrations per hour; 471 parts; 4.8 mm thick; 33.3 mm in diameter.
The flying barrel is anchored by a bridge, likely in steel…note different colour tone to the rest of the movement bridges which are in German Silver. The barrel is flying because the other end of the barrel is not affixed to a movement plate, but in an opening cut out from the plate, and the barrel only anchored on the back side of the movement to this bridge. The movement bridges are magnificent, sensuous curves, beautifully designed and executed is quite a sight. Very beautiful.

 

Uncaging the tourbillon enables JLC to use a larger balance wheel than traditional tourbillons, and run at a rather unusually high beat of 21,600 bph. In a traditional tourbillon, the balance spring is attached to a stud which is attached to the tourbillon cage at two points: at the balance staff one one end and to a movable stud which can be used to adjust length which is attached to cage. But in this tourbillon, there is no cage. So JLC had to device a method to attach the balance spring to the arbour of the tourbillon. Quite ingenious, and only achievable because of the virtuosity of the watchmakers at JLC.

 

Tourbillon detail. No cage, no bridge.

Tourbillon detail. No cage, no bridge. The entire balance wheel is totally free to be admired.

 

The minute repeating mechanism is pure JLC. JLC have been making excellent striking watches since the turn of the last century. Their repeating pocket watches are well known. And recently in their wrist watches have been breaking records in terms of sound volume and clarity of the strikes.

 

In our listening tests of the Hybris Mechanica 11, and other latter JLC repeaters, the Deployant team found the strikes were loud and clear, as promised by the innovative technology used. However, we wished the tone of the strikes to be less clinical and had a more beautiful and complex tonal structure, perhaps resonate a bit more with a longer decay of the tone.

 

Movement detail, showing the Trébuchet hammers.

The Trébuchet hammers, which are sprung to enable the hammers to strike the gongs at a higher velocity than normal. Also interesting is the profile of the gongs which are square instead of round so that it makes maximum contact with the hammers. The gongs are also anchored directly onto the glass, enlisting the sapphire crystal to transmit the sound.

 

The Trébuchet hammers, crystal gongs are innovations created to JLC, but these are not new. These very significant technical and horological inventions are important, but they have been featured in other JLC striking watches before. So the novelty innovation touch for the Hybris Mechanica 11 is one which makes it easier for one to hear the time as the repeater strikes. In a regular repeater, the watch strikes the hours, quarters and minutes after the quarter. During the first 14 minutes, where the quarter strikes will be absent, a period of silence is presented. Not so for the Hybris Mechanica 11. When the watch is commanded to strike during the first 14 minutes of the hour, the watch will just skip the silence, and directly present the minutes immediately after the hour strikes. The result is brilliant. No pregnant pause after the hours strikes, and the watch goes directly to announcing the minutes past the hour.

 

The bridges and cocks of the movement.

The bridges and cocks of the movement. We find the design to be truthful to the early JLC designs from the 1900s, and beautiful to the eye. Note the magnificent finish of the bridges, and the teeth of the wheels. The picture above shows the drive mechanism of the wheel train to the pinion of the tourbillon.

 

We think the Jaeger LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica 11 is one of the most technically innovative and interesting watches from any manufacture for a long time. What do you think?

 

JLC Hybris Mechanica 11 on the wrist. Slim, elegant, and technically a tour de force.

JLC Hybris Mechanica 11 on the wrist. Slim, elegant, and technically a tour de force.

 

 

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