For our new installment of The Collector’s Nook, we’re returning to a Richemont model, one which is called “La Grande Maison”, or the watchmaker of watchmakers. That’s proper, this week we’re taking a look at Jaeger-LeCoultre, particularly, a Nineteen Nineties hit that lives on within the present assortment. We love issues right here at MONOCHROME, and we’re switching issues up a bit and are going with the Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar, a watch that I really like to call the forebear of the “Dr. Unusual” watch. Let’s take a look at a typical difficult youngtimer.
After the quartz disaster led to a culling of the herd within the Swiss watch business, the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties have been a time of rebirth and re-discovery. In French-speaking Switzerland, in Le Sentier, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched into a journey to relearn mechanical issues by growing a sequence of six limited-edition Reversos in rose gold, every made in 500 items: energy reserve and date, tourbillon, minute repeater, retrograde chronograph, dual-time, perpetual calendar. The Nineteen Nineties additionally noticed JLC introduce the Grasp Management, one of many Grande Maison’s most enduring collections.
A brief Background of the JLC Grasp Management
Over its 189-year historical past, Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed over 1,200 totally different calibers (!) and filed greater than 400 patents. Antoine LeCoultre made great developments within the area of precision, creating the world’s first gadget able to measuring a micron in 1844. This milestone lay the groundwork for JLC’s success, for with elevated capacity to fabricate to tighter tolerances got here larger precision, and better accuracy, of its calibres. The corporate’s engineering prowess noticed it rise in fame as a supplier of premium ébauches, or base actions. Whereas the Reverso grew to become JLC’s design icon after the quartz disaster, the Grasp Management sequence represented the corporate’s technical focus.
In 1992, JLC launched the Grasp Management assortment. The design cues of the watches of the Grasp Management sequence draw straight from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watches of the previous: the dauphine arms, blended lugs (suppose Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 96), and even the font used for the utilized Arabic numerals all have been impressed by Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties JLC references.
The Grasp Management watches will not be ostentatious, nor have been they meant to be. Throughout the plethora of issues to be given the Grasp Management remedy (time-and-date, energy reverse and pointer date, chronograph, dual-time, triple date, perpetual calendar), robustness and accuracy have been positioned entrance and middle. On the coronary heart of the designation “Grasp Management” lies one of many watchmaking world’s first proprietary exams of chronometry and reliability. Earlier than any watch can qualify for the “Grasp Management” designation, the cased-up motion undergoes a battery of exams of its chronometric efficiency, energy reserve, resistance to temperature change and on a regular basis shocks, and water resistance. In brief, the caseback oval stamp with the phrases “1000 HOURS CONTROL” attests to the truth that each watch within the Grasp Management assortment leaves the manufacturing facility with the manufacture’s seal of approval.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar – The Fundamentals
The perpetual calendar within the first Grasp Management assortment was launched in 1997 and was phased out after a run of seven years. The watch measures 37.2mm in diameter and is a mere 10.1mm in top, an unimaginable feat given the issues housed inside.
The case is a straightforward affair, with a skinny caseband and lugs that movement into the case. The lugs have a small downward drop and are gently beveled on their periphery. A flat conical bezel frames the dial, which is both silver or black within the references in stainless-steel. The dial is a masterclass in legibility, with out the a number of overlapping indications discovered in lots of different classically styled perpetual calendar fashions. There’s a pointer-style date subdial at 9 o’clock, the times of the week are proven at 3 o’clock, the months at 12, and the moonphase at 6 o’clock. There is no such thing as a intercalary year indicator, however as a substitute, a two-digit 12 months show is hidden away neatly throughout the month show. The arms for the time are within the angular type generally known as dauphine and have contrasting end, with one half being blasted, the opposite half polished – as soon as once more, the emphasis is on legibility. The icing on the cake is that this can be a lumed perpetual calendar: there are skinny strips of lume on the arms and small pips outboard the dart-style hour markers.
The Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar in metal is most well-known within the sequence. Nevertheless, the flagship mannequin within the Grasp Management assortment was additionally provided in purple gold, white gold, and platinum. Although the purple gold model was hardly a high-volume piece, the white gold and platinum have been much more particular, as that they had hunter-style casebacks within the matching case steel. The platinum watches, fitted with fetching slate blue dials, have been launched as a 250-piece run in 2001. And that platinum sequence had a strong platinum winding mass hooked up to the periphery of the rotor, versus the 22-carat gold winding mass present in all different Grasp Management Perpetual fashions. The white gold fashions have been a boutique-only version introduced simply earlier than the discontinuation of the vary in 2004 and had sunburst ruthenium dials.
The watch is powered by a modular motion, the caliber 889/440/2. The 889 is a skinny but sturdy tractor motion that served as a base motion for a lot of difficult watches, not simply at JLC, but additionally at Audemars Piguet (AP 2124) and Vacheron Constantin (because the VC 1126). The motion featured bidirectional winding, an open barrel building for decreased thickness, and six-position adjustment. The perpetual calendar model of the motion, with the suffix “/440/2” denoting the addition of a dial-side module developed by IWC watchmaker extraordinaire Kurt Klaus for the IWC Da Vinci in 1985.
It’s due to this module that the Grasp Management Perpetual is such a user-friendly watch, significantly for a perpetual calendar. The proprietor doesn’t should fuss about with a number of pusher adjusters recessed into the case flank, every one keyed to every of the calendar shows. No, the Kurt Klaus system is mechanically programmed – the watch “is aware of” each mixture of month, day, date, 12 months, and moonphase. In the event you appropriately set the date, all different indications may even be appropriate. The one draw back to that is that every thing is managed through the crown. If the crown is within the fallacious detente, as a substitute of advancing the time, you possibly can transfer the date ahead by every week or extra earlier than you understand your mistake. Because the calendar can’t be adjusted backward, the one repair is to permit the watch to run down and proper itself or to ship it in for a pricey reset.
JLC addressed this by decoupling the calendar from the crown, as a substitute selecting to go together with the time-tested resolution of a case flank pusher corrector at 8 o’clock.
Why must you think about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar?
The perpetual calendar is an intimidating complication, at the very least to me. So many star wheels, springs, and levers work collectively in live performance to show probably the most complete calendar complication that they appear like they should be fragile issues certainly!
Go away it to the masters at JLC to package deal their flagship Grasp Management mannequin in such a user-friendly approach. To begin with, this can be a perpetual calendar that’s obtainable in stainless-steel, so you may simply put on it as your on a regular basis watch with out having to fret an excessive amount of about scratches and scuffs. Add to that the legibility of the issues and the benefit of use of the calendar show. This can be a excessive complication watch that’s meant to be worn and loved, not locked away in a secure!
It’s the small particulars that talk to me right here – take a better take a look at the dial. It seems austere, at first, however you then discover the small and quirky particulars. There, at 6 o’clock, is an utilized Arabic numeral, the one one on the dial. Oddly, it really works, balancing out the visible weight of the months show at 12 o’clock. Look nearer on the reference 140.8.80.S – stainless-steel with a black dial. Do you discover something concerning the lume pips…? Sure, they’re encircled in purple, a sporty and, dare I say it, youthful addition to what’s imagined to be a “grown-up” watch.
However my favourite element must be the small cutout on the dial simply above the cannon pinion that serves as a day-night indicator, which acts as a warning to not change the calendar indications as a result of danger of probably damaging the motion. However that’s not all – the arms have a small cutout in them that strains up with the day-night indicator so that’s all the time seen. The oldsters at JLC actually did consider every thing!
And at last, let’s discuss concerning the worth proposition. Classic JLCs are properly appreciated as providing significantly robust worth, and the Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar is not any totally different. In metal, costs for the black dial model are simply creeping into EUR 12,000-15,000 vary, with the purple gold reference commanding a slight premium. Count on to pay round EUR 10,000 extra for a mannequin in platinum.
Although it might sound as if the Reverso is JLC’s sole poster baby, the Grasp Management line has loved a thirty-year run and stays a core assortment within the model’s lineup. After the top of the run of the primary era of Grasp Management in 2004, the road was facelifted and given a extra aggressive look to go together with the usage of JLC’s proprietary Compressor crown system. The Grasp assortment returned to its elegant roots after 2010 and has loved renewed success. 2020 noticed a major replace, with the rollout of the subsequent era of JLC actions fitted with silicon escapements.
From its utilitarian roots, the “Grasp” title has, in its trendy kind, been utilized to a broad vary of JLC excessive issues such because the Grasp Grande Custom Tourbillon Cylindrique or the 2019 Grasp Grande Custom Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel. Nonetheless, the philosophy at its core signifies that, even at their most intricate, the watches of the Grasp line are constructed to final. Within the case of the Grasp Management Perpetual Calendar, I’d even enterprise a guess that it’d final to perpetuity!