Jaeger-LeCoultre might be famous for its minimalistic, Art Deco watch, the Reverso, or for its elegant Master collection but this would be a reductive appraisal considering everything else the Grande Maison can achieve: métiers d’art, complex movements, superb designs. This year, at the SIHH, the brand introduced an incredible masterpiece, the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster, as well as a new design for its high-end Master watches. Combining these two, the brand has presented another impressive piece with an innovative chiming mechanism – and more. Here’s the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle.
A complex chime
The first striking aspect (pun intended) of this new Master Grande Tradition is its chiming mechanism. We already knew that JLC was one of the most knowledgeable manufactures when it comes to minute repeaters: it is the only brand in the world to have over 200 chiming watch calibres in its historical and modern inventory, including the innovative Master Minute Repeater with gongs placed against the crystal.
With the new Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle, Jaeger-LeCoultre aims at combining energy management, musicality and the power of the sound. This was achieved by creating an entirely novel gong configuration, unlike any other. Instead of lying flat in overlapping coils like those commonly seen on minute repeater gongs, the gongs of this watch depart radically from convention by incorporating unprecedented height and space.
Two gongs – visible in blue on the images – welded together at their base, travel in the same direction around the periphery of the movement, making one almost complete tour before dramatically arching upwards, traversing the entire height of the movement. They then diverge and take a terminal semi-arc around the other side of the movement, stopping just before their ends meet, around the periphery of the dial where they can be seen through the dial-side sapphire crystal.
By maximising the space occupied by the element that creates sound vibrations – the gongs – the Calibre 950 boosts its capacity for sound transmission. The proximity of the gongs to a larger proportion of the watch case, which serves as a sound resonator, increases the sound even further. Signature chime innovations of Jaeger-LeCoultre, such as the square gong cross sections and the articulated “trebuchet” hammers, ensure that the gongs are struck with the greatest possible impact and the least interference from hammer recoil.
More than just a minute repeater
Reducing the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle to a minute repeater wouldn’t be fair, as this watch has much more to offer than “just” its chiming mechanism.
On top of the base movement and combined with the minute repeater module is another impressive complication, the most advanced type of calendar, a perpetual calendar module. The one found on this Master Grande Tradition is hallmark Jaeger-LeCoultre. Capable of displaying correct calendar information – taking into consideration the varying lengths of the months, even during leap years – it also integrates a full-year indication on 4 digits. The indications are separated over 3 sub-dials, with the date at 3 o’clock, the month at 6 o’clock, the day of the week and moon phase at 9 o’clock, and of course, the hours and minutes in the centre.
One of the main issues with perpetual calendars comes with adjustments, which can only be performed when the movement isn’t undergoing a change of date – this would cause severe damage to the mechanical parts. As often with JLC’s QPs, the Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle is equipped with a security zone that appears in an aperture on the dial near the axis of the hour and minute hands. This indicates when adjusting the time or calendar is not advised due to the possibility of stressing or even damaging the movement.
What is even more impressive is that this watch features an automatic winding mechanism, something rare when it comes to minute repeater watches. But don’t be scared, there’s no semicircular rotor to hide the view of the movement… In this model, the winding rotor of the calibre 950 is hidden within the movement, positioned between the perpetual calendar and minute repeater mechanisms, permitting a full view of the mechanism on the reverse side of the watch.
As you would expect from a watch with a movement of this complexity, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle isn’t a small, ultra-thin piece. Its white gold case, which shows polished and sandblasted recessed surfaces, measures 43mm in diameter. However, JLC has managed to contain the height and the watch has a decent profile of 13.72mm – not bad for an automatic repeater QP. The case alone comprises over 80 separate hand-finished parts.
Following the trend of the new watches introduced at SIHH 2019 – including the new Master watches and the Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel – the new Master Grande Tradition comes in two flavours. The first is a traditional take on the watch, with a silver-grained dial and rhodium-plated applied indexes and hands.
The second version features a more complex dial. The solid white gold base is first decorated with guillochage and the perpetual calendar counters are then precision laser-welded onto the dial. The remaining spaces are filled with translucent enamel in another multi-stage process. The enamel is then polished, resulting in the final dial combining depth and a glossy, translucent surface. Both versions of the watch are worn on a blue alligator leather strap.
Price and availability
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle will be a limited edition of 30 pieces with silver-grained dial (ref. Q5233420) and 30 pieces with blue enamel guilloché dial (ref. Q52334E1). The price hasn’t been revealed yet, but don’t expect this watch to come cheap.
More details at www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.