This year, Jaeger LeCoultre (JLC) launched five new models in the inaugural digital Watches & Wonders 2020.
Press Release (edited for brevity) with commentary.
There are four new pieces from the Master Control collection, and a new Reverso One collection for the ladies.
Introducing: Master Control Collection
Since it was introduced in 1992, JLC’s Master Control collection has been defined by technical rigour and stylistic restraint, its constant evolution imbued with the Maison’s deep respect for tradition and constant quest for innovation.
For this year, JLC decide to draw focus on this collection, and gaining inspiration from the classic round watches of the 1950s – such as the Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox models – with an additional dash of 21st-century flair.
What is also noteworthy to point out is that the Master Control collection is the first that features the ‘1000 Hours Control’ certification – which inspired the collection’s name. A demanding process that tests the entire cased-up watch (not just its movement), it set a new benchmark when introduced and has continually evolved in response to technological advances, to remain one of the watch industry’s most stringent testing protocols. The new models is built upon this fundamental, with further improvements being made to create a more robust movement.
Admittedly, collectors can’t go wrong with JLC watches and the new models – as with most of the Master Control models of the past. The subtle and restrained looks have always appealed to us, and JLC had certainly made a coscientious effort to do so again with the four different models this year. The improved movement, as we will see later, further reinforces the prowess of JLC as a movement powerhouse; it offers serious competition to its counterparts.
Master Control Calendar
The Master Control Calendar was inspired by JLC watches of the 1940s and 50s, where the maison is renowned for its triple calendar moonphase movements.
The design faithfully replicates the triple calendar moonphases of the yesteryear. There are two apertures on the top of the dial, displaying both the day and month. There is a date indicator on the peripheral, indicated by a red-tipped hand. Finally, there is a moonphase indicator at the 6 o’clock position to complete the entire package.
Powered by the self-winding Caliber 866, the movemebt boasts a power reserve of around 70 hours. One notably, and nifty feature, is the jumping date indicator – it makes a 90 degree leap from the 15th to 16th, to avoid obscuring the moonphase aperture. It is a minor detail, but we can see the obsessiveness in how JLC aims to improve the watch.
Featuring a 40mm case, the Master Control Calendar is available in both steel and Le Grand Rose gold. We like the subtle touch of the Master Control Calendar, and we love the jumping date feature. We will recommend this to corporate warriors who wants a respectable and functional timepiece, sans the attention.
Master Control Date
Comparatively, the Master Control Date is a tone-down version of the Calendar. Featuring only the date function, the entry-level model focuses on the intrinsic details of the timepiece.
The bulk of the differences, vis-à-vis its predecessor, lies in the movement. The latest-generation Calibre 899 features a new escapement and pallets: reconstructed in a slightly modified shape, they are made of silicon to minimise friction and thus consume less energy. The central-seconds wheel has been redesigned to eliminate shaking; the fixing screws of the oscillating wheel are made of highly resistant titanium, rather than steel; and new oils, specifically formulated for the new materials, have been used. In order to increase the power reserve to 70 hours, the barrel was redesigned to accommodate a stronger and longer mainspring without increasing the 3.3mm height of the movement.
As we can see, JLC is not reinventing the wheel. The Master Control Date has not changed aesthetically, but most of the updates were made to the movement. Should they have been more adventurous with the design? We beg to differ – it is an entry-level model and we don’t think that it is necessary to change a well-designed dial. The movement, however, is a huge improvement, and this is certainly what collectors at this level are looking for.
Master Control Geographic
JLC’s intepretation of the world-time has been unique, as seen in the older generation of Master Control Geographic. The new model remains faithful to its predecessor in terms of its dial layout, with an additional flange around the circumference of the dial. JLC’s world-time function is intuitive, as one would only need to set the second time-zone via location, instead of having to calculate time difference.
Similarly, the new 40mm watch is fitted with the self-winding Calibre 939. The new movement increases the power reserve of the Master Control Geographic to 70 hours, while the case is available in a choice of steel or Le Grand Rose gold.
Similarly, JLC retained the design and focused on upgrading the movement. We like the brand’s interpretation of the world-time function, and the upgraded movement is an icing on the cake.
Master Control Calendar Chronograph
The highlight of the collection is perhaps the new Master Control Calendar Chronograph. As suggested by its nomenclature, the watch features the best of both worlds – in the form of a triple calendar, as well as a bi-compax chronograph.
We like how JLC had designed the watch, where simplicity and intuitiveness are favoured. The 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock is balanced by the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, while the day and month windows in the top part of dial are balanced by the moon-phase and date indicator at 6 o’clock. The entire display is anchored by the central chronograph seconds hand and contained by the pulsometric scale marked around the dial flange.
Powering the 40mm timepiece is the newly-developed Calibre 759. Brought together for the first time in a Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece, JLC commented that this is an “alliance of complications evokes the ancient links between watchmaking and astronomy.” The new self-winding movement features a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch, a moon-phase indicator, and a 65-hour power reserve.
Arguably, this is our favourite timepiece from this collection. Not only is this a refreshing take, but it is also the first time that JLC had incorporated these two functions together. We also like its clean design, despite the plethora of indicators and complications. There is also a distinctive “modern-vs-classic” theme in its design, and we thought the combination worked quite brilliantly. This is really a wonderful watch, and we think it is one of the brightest sparks in Watches & Wonders this year.
Finally, we have Reverso One. The Reverso One is a new aesthetic interpretations of its most admired models for women, while paying homage to the original Art Deco design. It also introduces fresh colour and new refinement to the collection.
The Red-Wine, which follows a deep red clour theme, is one of the models in the series. The rich glow of red on the dial is achieved by applying multiple layers of lacquer over a subtle sunray guilloché pattern and is complemented by white numerals and the cool shine of the polished steel case. It is also paired with two rows of grain-set diamonds. As a final flourish, the new red-wine colour of the shiny alligator strap ensures that it perfectly matches the dial.
The Reverso One Red-Wine is a classy addition to the Reverso collection. We like its elegant look, and it is definitely a nice piece to don on during special occasions.