Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel
Jaeger-LeCoultre is bringing out the big guns this year. Not only has the Le Sentier manufacturer presented SIHH 2019’s most complicated wristwatch – the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel – it has also introduced three limited edition, ‘premium’ variants to the iconic Master Ultra Thin line. One of these is the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel is rendered in white gold and measures a dignified 39.00 mm x 10.04 mm. The watch should fit most wrists and slide under most dress cuffs with ease, though some may question whether, at a centimeter thickness, ‘Master Ultra Thin’ is a misnomer. The case is entirely polished for elegance and plenty nuanced, with beveled lugs and a narrow bezel that affords the dial much real estate.
The dial does, indeed, deserve the extra space, for it is truly special. The most striking feature of the dial (and the watch, for that matter) is its sunburst guilloche motif with blue enamel applied on top. The result is a resplendent dial that dances with light and never quite looks the same at different angles. Not that it’s a big deal, but the enamel dial is also the reason why the new Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel is about one millimeter thicker than its predecessors. Also noteworthy is the new aesthetics of the date ring, which can also be found in the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotoubillon Westminster Perpétuel. With a frosted finish on the track and relief engraved dates, it adds further to the already impressive depth and texture of the dial. While the hands remain unchanged (save for the addition of a counterbalance to the date hand), Jaeger-LeCoultre have opted for softer-looking hour indices. Where they were sharp arrowheads in preceding incarnations, they are now more akin to blunted arrowheads.
Overall, the case and the dial of the new Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel are a class act. The combination of a complex, polished white gold case and a deeply textured enamel dial gives the watch a bedazzling effect in every sense of the word.
While the preceding Master Ultra Thin Moon models are driven by the Calibre 925/1, the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel has the new Calibre 925/2 beating inside it instead. The 245-part, 30-jewel movement is self-winding and operates at a 4 Hz beat frequency. The main difference between the Calibre 925/1 and the Calibre 925/2 is in the power reserve; the latter has a 70-hour power reserve, which is 27 hours longer than the power reserve of the former. This improvement is rather commendable given that both movements run off just the one barrel. It also means that the owner has the option of putting the watch down over the weekend and it’d still be running on Monday with many hours of juice to spare.
The finishing applied onto the movement is neat and aesthetically pleasing. At the entry-mid range level, Jaeger-LeCoultre movements are machine finished to a larger extent than, say, a watch from the Master Grande Tradition line. There is nothing wrong with machine finishing, of course. It’s the manufacturer’s way of offering more in other aspects of the watch while keeping prices in-check.
The Competitive Landscape
The new, ‘premium’ Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel is produced in a limited edition series of 100 pieces. With a price tag of USD35,800, it is the most expensive variant of the Master Ultra Thin Moon model. The reasons for its high ransom is obvious: 1) extra craftsmanship on the dial (guilloche, relief engraving and enameling) and, 2) an improved movement. Whether or not these upgrades are worth the USD18,000 premium over the regular gold version is subject to debate; we’re going to say that it is.
The Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel isn’t the only enamel moon phase watch in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collection. Introduced in 2014, the Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire with grand feu enamel dial wowed the watch community with its mesmerising beauty. From its contemporary dial design to its innovative, hand-finished, German silver movement, absolutely nothing is uninteresting about the watch. Produced in a 200-piece limited edition series, the watch was priced at EUR42,000 at launch, which is noticeably – and justifiably – more expensive than the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel.
While not an enamel dial timepiece, the Rolex Cellini Moonphase with its white lacquered dial (which looks similar to enamel) is also worth a mention. The fact that the moon phase complication had been missing from Rolex watches for decades makes the Cellini Moonphase Baselworld 2017’s most unexpected release. All the more fitting, then, that the return of this poetic complication to Rolex timepieces be marked by an extra special moon phase display. Crafted in blue enamel, the moon phase disc is adorned with a moon made of meteorite. At CHF 25,500, it is the most accessible timepiece of the three.
The unique, opulent aesthetics of the new Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel is a winner and a real crowd pleaser. The watch also comes with a slightly upgraded movement. While the price is double that of the regular gold cased version, we believe it is reasonable for what it offers.