The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel watch hands-on
With the 2019 Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel, Jaeger-LeCoultre has added this year a new attractive variant to the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual collection. Personally, I have a soft spot for perpetual calendars, be them big and sporty like a Big Pilot's Watch Spitfire Perpetual Calendar or classic and ultra-thin. The Swiss brand is among the greatest interpreters of this complication along with other brands belonging to the Richemont Group, like Vacheron Constantin, for example, whose Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is still sitting on top of my wish list.
The new Perpetual Enamel belongs to a trilogy of three new timepieces, whose common feature is a blue enameled dial with "guilloché" pattern, and represents a new technical and aesthetic take on the perpetual calendar if compared to other models in the same collection. All the pieces of information are now displayed as follows: the day is located at 3 o'clock, date is at 9 o'clock, whereas the month and year displays are located at 12 o'clock instead. Finally, the moon phase display has been placed at six o'clock.
The original configuration was therefore rotated and the digital display of the year has changed too, with the four digits split into two separate windows both inserted within the month register. From a technical standpoint, the biggest step forward is the "moon phase complication" design; the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel was conceived to display the lunar phases in both hemispheres.
The new dial is the game changer, and a step-up over any other Master Perpetual Calendar's; the masters of the "Métiers Rares" atelier at Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced a blue enamel dial, featuring two different "guilloché" decorations: the outermost part of the dial has a sunray pattern, while the registers' sub-dials feature a pyramidal pattern. This combination enhances the perpetual calendar display further when placed under different lighting conditions. However, I think this color palette looks too glossy and, coupled with the new dial design, make the entire package look a bit overcrowded and over-designed.
Although I believe a current Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual is too understated, conversely I think the new Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel looks at times flowery, albeit its aesthetic refinement is remarkable. If one of the brand's goals was to show off their mastery in decorative art making, that goal has been indeed fully achieved. Widely recognized as one of the most productive luxury watch manufacturers, with a long list of manufactured movements developed through the years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has put its hands on the caliber 868, as you might guess by taking a quick look at the dial.
When compared to the original 868/1, the new caliber 868A/2 has more or less the same parts (332 versus 336) but can run up to 70 hours when fully wound, that means a staggering +84% over the original caliber. 39mm wide and 10.44mm thick, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel is not the thinnest perpetual calendar out there, but no doubt is one of the most exclusive (it is by the way crafted in white gold) and will be produced in just 100 specimens, each costing € 56,500.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®