The Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique was unveiled this year in SIHH, and follows a line of cylindrical tourbillon watches by JLC. In 2013, it was the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel in platinum. This was followed by a pink gold version in 2014, and in 2015 a platinum version with a blue dial. The latest edition now comes without the perpetual calendar. This is our hands-on analytical review.
The Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique
We begin right out of the bat…we love this watch! Its not the usual high complication fancy timepiece we sometimes tend to get enchanted on. Its not the straight shooter simple watch either. It is equipped with a tourbillon regulator, and one which is a bit of a rarity…with a cylindrical hairspring. The dial design is pure. Cleaner than the Quantième Perpétuel that it shares the same base movement with. But with no perpetual calendar to clutter the dial. Allow us to expound why we are thrilled with the JLC Master Grand Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique.
The case, dial and hands
The case is quite classic JLC Master. It is built sturdy, and well proportioned. The pink gold chosen is 4N, and bold and a very nice hue. The platinum version, which we did not photograph is more teutonic, perhaps a little out of character with the watches from Le Sentier, though, it must be said the platinum case is not as massive (and by extension as teutonic) as their German sisters from A Lange & Söhne.
The dial is textured and judging from the eye looks like an eggshell color. The dial is bi-level, with a lowered section from 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock, and looks like it is retreating to showcase the cylindrical tourbillon. A circular aperture punctures the dial to showcase the tourbillon. Which, with its cylindrical hairspring sits much higher than a regular tourbillon with a flat or a overcoil equipped hairspring. The visual impact of the flying tourbillon, with its tower like cage spinning around is mesmerizing.
The hands are dauphine, and polished two faceted, and works well. Long and elegant. As are the appliqué bar hour markers. They too are long and elegant. A printed minute track marked around the dial in 60 segments run on the outer edge of the dial. Nomenclature on the dial is kept quite minimal and in our view very tasteful. Other than the brand “Jaeger LeCoultre” and a small marking saying “Tourbillon Cylindrique” and the obligatory “Swiss Made” in small inconspicuous text right at the bottom edge. It stays clear from the other portion of its rather long name.
The Movement: JLC Caliber 995
The movement, like all JLC movements are designed and manufactured in-house in their rather large facilities in Le Sentier. The movement is true blue JLC. Robust, well engineered. And nicely finished.
As mentioned the cylindrical tourbillon first debuted with JLC in 2014, although it first appeared in a Montblanc Villaret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique in 2011. To date we only know JLC and Montblanc to be the only manufacturers of cylindrical hairsprings for wrist watches, although these were common in marine chronometers, and Hamilton filed a US Patent for it in 1948.
In the Caliber 995, the tourbillon is flying, and there is no cock or bridge securing it on the dial side. The tourbillon also carries 3 hands which are in blued steel. These act as the seconds indicator against the 0-20 markings along the bottom 1/3 section of the tourbillon aperture. On the back, the tourbillon is anchored by a full bridge.
The movement is well engineered and robust, and like all JLC movements will prove reliable and trustworthy to keep good time for many years.
The automatic movement has an autonomy of 45 hours, and runs on a single barrel. The tourbillon beat rate is 28,800 bph.
Finishing is de rigueur. The traditional finnisage points are all addressed. And the final finishing is judged to be quite fine, albeit perhaps a bit more mechanical and industrial than the high decorative finishings of the haute horlogerie finishes of many top level maisons. But the JLC finish is not as showy or as decorative, but more than just adequate.
The movement sports a differential finishing which has a beautiful aesthetic. The grained finish on the rotor stands in stark contrast to the beautifully polished edges of the same rotor. Which then contrasts with the sunburst fauss côtes on the movement plates and bridges.
Concluding Thoughts and competitive analysis
In conclusion, we love the watch. We love it for its simplicity. Yet it is not a simple watch. We love it for the unusual cylindrical tourbillon. Yet it is not unique, nor even the first. We love it for the finishing. Though it is not finished to the lofty standards set by some other haute horlogerie maisons. We love it for the whole. For the clarity in design. For the legibility on the dial. For the showcasing of the cylindrical tourbillon. We love it because it is made by Manufacture JLC, a 183 year manufacture, always striving to design and make its own movements. In an special style which is classical, traditional, yet modern and functional and robust.
In terms of competition, as mentioned Montblanc makes watches with cylindrical tourbillons. The original being the Villaret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique (€230,000 approx S$356,000) in 2011. Our friends at Monochrome Watches covered that watch then. The watch is still carried in the Montblanc catalog today. We find the watch to be quite avant garde in its design. With the mysterious hour and minute hands which appear to float above the hour/minute subdial.
The other manufacture is Bovet with their Braveheart (US$557,700 in 18k red gold. It is US$569,200 in 18k white gold, and models with diamonds range in price from US$632,500 – US$646,600). The Bovet also features a subdial for the hour/minutes. The rest of the movement is laid bare in an open architecture dial. Two sapphire glasses hold what looks like a ring for the case middle allow the entire movement to be displayed. The Braveheart has a dial on each side, to show two timezones. But the price is certainly heart stopping.
Both the competition are much more expensive, and makes the JLC Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique’s S$134,000 for pink gold rather reasonable. The nagging question is whether JLC, being the technical juggernaut it is has moved on from the cylindrical hairspring for its tourbillons. It had demonstrated what seems to be more advanced shaped hairsprings. Their spherical hairspring in the JLC Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon and more recently in the 2016 JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon Tribute which sports a semi-spherical hairspring. We don’t have the answers.
So for now, we are happy to bask in the beauty of the Tourbillon Cylindrique. And it firmly have our high recommendation.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique Technical details
Case material: Platinum and Pink Gold
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 995, Automatic
Number of parts : 275
Vibrations per hour : 28800
Power-reserve : 45 Hours
Jewels : 31
Barrel : 1
Height : 6.50 mm
Functions : Hour – Minute, Cylindrical Tourbillon
Case : Platinum and 4N Pink Gold
Water resistance : 5 bar
Diameter : 42mm
Thickness : 13.2mm
Dial : Silver-grained, baton hour-markers
Hands : Dauphines
Buckle : Double Folding Buckle 18.0 mm