Jaeger-Le Coultre - on the road to the SIHH 2016
The year 2015 has been a great year for Jaeger-LeCoultre. During the last year, the Swiss manufacturer has released an impressive series of novelties and new complications, the latest of which is the new Geophysic collection that was launched at the Watches & Wonders event and that features true seconds. If I go back to the reviews about the latest releases that I personally wrote on my blog in 2015, I can see that I have mainly focused my attention on the most complicated and fascinating timepiece that Jaeger-Le Coultre launched last January; the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Tradition Grande Complication. This watch is a masterpiece dedicated to a very restricted circle of aficionados, an extraordinary piece for real collectors, a watch that is geared towards the true connoisseurs and admirers of the finest art of watchmaking.
The night sky, the constellations and the zodiac (or the world map in the case of the Geophysic Universal Time) have been one of Jaeger-LeCoultre's key motifs this year and they are also present in two of the manufacturer's latest releases for her, two eye-catching watches called the Rendez Vous Moon and the Rendez Vous Celestial. Both timepieces pay homage to the world of astronomy by sporting different complications and technical features while still maintaining the same conceptual style and an excellent craftsmanship.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez Vous Celestial is a 37.5mm-wide-rose-gold-watch that features a guillochè-decorated-dial made of purple aventurine quartz, one of the rarest minerals existing on planet Earth that very few watchmakers use (Montblanc uses the same mineral for the dial of its Exo-Tourbillon, whose review you can read on here, while Omega uses aventurine quartz to craft the limited edition of its Speedmaster Professional Moonphase). Aventurine quartz is the perfect element (and quite an exclusive one given its rarity) to use if you aim at creating a watch that recreates the concept of a celestial sky, since this mineral's pigments reflect the light in different ways when you move your watch in different positions. The watch's elliptical sky chart is not still but it actually moves on itself and it slowly completes a fully cycle in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds (this is the time that it takes the Earth to make one rotation on its axis, also called a sidereal day), the chart also sports the 12 zodiacal constellations. A star placed on the dial can be activated through the second crown located at 2 o'clock and it allows the user to mark an important life event.
Let's now take a look at the Jaeger-Le Coultre Rendez Vous Moon; a timepiece conceived to sport a moon-phase-cycle that will remain perfectly precise for the next 972 years. The blue elliptical chart is decorated with constellations and cabochons and it features an opening where the mother-of-pearl-moon elapses in accordance with the moon-phase-cycle. The Celestial features a rose-gold-case that is 37,5mm wide while the Moon sports an either 36mm or 39mm-wide-case that is made of white gold.
Moving to men's watches, the year 2015 has seen the launch of the Jaeger-Le Coultre Master Calendar watches with a meteorite dial, two timepieces that have been considered a bit controversial, as they have marked a break in the purity of the most classical and least showing-off Jaeger-LeCoultre collection.
The meteorite dial has been crafted using material coming from a single block of meteorite that was found in Sweden and that had originated somewhere in the space between the planets of Mars and Jupiter. Watchmakers have cut the stone into different layers and shaped it to obtain a dial that is geometrically perfect. Take a look at the attached pictures and you will see how the manufacturer has managed to preserve the sleek and classical style/geometry of a Master Calendar. It is needles to say that the meteorite dial provides these two Master Calendar watches with a touch of distinctiveness, given that each and every dial is a unique piece. From a technical point of view, the glorious caliber 866 provides these two Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces with a complete calendar sporting moon phases. So, what should we expect from this brand in 2016?
If you are fan of this manufacturer and still remember that in 1931 it released the very first Reverso watch, you will easily work out that the year 2016 will coincide with the 85th anniversary of an icon. It seems like everything is going back to its original roots and that the brand is actually squaring the circle; many years ago Jaeger-LeCoultre was mainly connected with the Reverso but Jerome Lambert (the former company's CEO and the current CEO of Montblanc) was able to expand the brand's image to other collections and also to launch many new products. I own a Reverso, the only watch I would have bought many years ago, but today, if I could, I would also opt for a DeepSea or for a Geophysic. The year 2016 will see the Reverso collection being reorganized into three new categories; the Reverso Classic, the Reverso Tribute and the Reverso One. It is not a simple matter of "renaming" the collection but mainly a matter of new small design details that will make this iconic collection even better than it already is.
My Reverso Classic (mid-size) is securely stored inside my safe but if I were given the chance to open it again and place a new one in there, I would definitely opt for a Reverso Tribute. A novelty that stands out in this preview, is the Reverso Tribute Duo, a duo face Reverso that, conceptually and stylistically speaking, bridges the gap between a classic Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duo and the style of a Tribute to 1931. Blue dauphine hands on a white dial, rhodium plated hands on a blue dial (on the other side) and a manual wind caliber will definitely make this model a guest star at next January's 2016 SIHH event. From what I can understand, the Reverso Tribute to 1931 will be a brand inside the brand (only Reverso and nothing else) and it will be produced either with a red dial or with a blue dial (and a small second counter), a slim winding crown and a thin vintage-style leather strap featuring a tang buckle. If you're looking into buying a Reverso watch and a piece for collectors this coming year, make sure that you go for this timepiece. More info and live pictures will be available as we visit the Palaexpo on 18th January 2016.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Jaeger-Le Coultre, Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter