The Jaeger-LeCoultre stand at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is abuzz with activity, astronomical activity, that is. This year’s novelties look to the skies for inspiration and feature innovative, complicated movement. Here are Jaeger-LeCoultre North Asia Managing Director Guillain Maspétiol’s top three picks amongst 2015 watches: Duomètre Unique Travel Time in white gold, Geophysic, and Rendez-Vous Ivy Minute Repeater.
The Duomètre Unique Travel Time, as its name suggests, provides more than just travel time. Expressing the rotation of the planet, destination time zone can be set to the minute. Not only is the watch powered by two barrels, its intricate hand-chiseled dial is proof of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise at blending complication and craftsmanship.
The new Geophysic, a tribute to the 1958 creation, still stands the rigorous tests of magnetism, shock and water resistance to provide high chronometric precision. Originally designed for the scientists attending the International Geophysical Year in 1958, this year’s Geophysic is relaunched with a new size and a high-performance self-winding movement that’s more accurate than ever.
The new ladies Rendez-Vous Ivy Minute Repeater combines aesthetics with the more refined complications: tourbillon and minute repeater in a gemset case. It is the maison's first women's watch to be equipped with the melodic horological complication. Ten years in the making, it boasts unprecedented accuracy, a patented trebuchet hammer and gong system, as well as a user-friendly push button. The white gold dial features a delicate blue sunburst guilloché motif, where snow-set diamond ivy leaves and the hours’ Arabic numerals are entwined in the harmonious design.
When asked about the growing trend of women’s watches, Maspétio explains that contemporary ladies desire a watch with content. “During our watchmaking and gemsetting courses, the ladies are very meticulous whereas men are much less so. Rather than just changing the strap or dial colours, the ladies would tell people about their experience and how it influenced the purchase of one of our watches."
“For men, their choice is an extension of their personality - 'Show me what you wear and I will tell you whom you are.' There are many types of customers: those who only purchase tourbillon, those who get into secondhand pieces which they will have restored and re-sell, or those who buy solely for investment purposes. Complications are now equally important for men and women. And if they wear it as an accessory, now it is about an accessory with content.”
And for Jaeger-LeCoultre, this ‘content’ comes with a price. Maspétiol continues, “For many years, we have been investing a lot in research and development. From design to prototype, it can take no less than five years for a complicated watch. Even the simpler ones take two to three years. Therefore, as we speak now, the team is already working on the future. Today, we have over 40 techniques such as gemsetting, laser-cutting, engraving and many more. We incorporate polishing and assembly in-house.”
The capacity of an entirely in-house manufacture allows Jaeger-LeCoultre to come up with a true invention, the real challenge in haute horlogerie. “Innovate or die - invention is how we stay on top of the game. If you think about it, there have been only a few inventions over the past 20 or 30 years. Many things were invented long before that. The tourbillon was one of them. The gyrotourbillon which we created several hears ago was a true invention, and its concept has been used by many brands. The Extreme Lab 1 was the first ever watch to run without lubrication - a silent revolution in itself.”
Interestingly, Maspétiol points out that some of the people who know Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history the best are the collectors, whose knowledge of the brand goes far back. “There are many kinds of collectors: those who collect only the most iconic piece from every brand; some only tourbillons, perpetual calendars or pocket watches; some only collect limited edition pieces with their lucky number, and so on.”
Recently, one of the bestselling collections is the Duomètre with its combination of chronograph and tourbillon. The Rendez-Vous collection for women has been hugely successful with its round case. “Complications do not mean they have to be very expensive,” Maspétiol observes. “We have complicated watches with steel cases. Years ago when we first housed a manufactured movement in a steel case for about 25,000 euro, it caused a tsunami in the watch industry.”
Always an innovator, today Jaeger-LeCoultre offers the classics, the complications, the sports and women’s watches with its diverse collections. “There is always a timepiece that marks a special occasion, whether it's an anniversary, the birth of a child or other more day-to-day occasions.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre 2015 Novelties
Atmos Marqueterie Céleste
Rendez-Vous Ivy Minute Repeater
Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Moon
Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication
Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel
Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Orbital