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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?