Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control 2020 collection - Watches and Wonders
At this year's Watches & Wonders, the Richemont Group has premiered stunning new timepieces, outperforming the competition for the time being. All the brands unveiled their most innovative products, and the Group's manufacture par excellence, Jaeger-LeCoultre, was no different. The 2020 spotlights are on the new Master Control collection: if you'd ask a kid ever to imagine a wristwatch, he would probably draw something like a Master Control, such this line up's style is clean and sleek.
Close to celebrating its thirty anniversary, the 2020 Master Control pays tribute to great classics like Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox, while taking the most out of the brand's experience both on producing excellent calibers and mastering new materials. True to the collection's pedigree of offering refined classic watches, the 2020 edition is not a facelift but a consistent upgrade across the full range, and beyond. The sophisticated, finely detailed contemporary design welcomes new movements. The base caliber, the Jaeger-LeCoultre 899, has undergone a comprehensive re-engineering and now houses a silicon escapement, and technical improvements to ensure a power reserve of up to 70 hours.
Other innovations, as highlighted, concern the adoption of new materials. Precisely, Jaeger-LeCoultre has followed the likes of its sister brands by adding a pink gold alloy option, not any, but a proprietary gold alloy to strengthen product durability and brilliance over time. This topic is something we'll discuss in a separate article. To sum it up, the new product range's touchpoints are the following: improved perceived quality via refinement inside and out, and first-class performance.
Indeed, when the Master Control line first came out, in 1992, it premiered the Jaeger-LeCoultre "1000 Hours Control" certification. This testing process has undergone continuous improvement and, back then, introduced a list of rigorous tests performed on case and movement altogether. The recently-announced 8-years guarantee best summarizes the brand's quest for excellence and long-term reliability and gives customers full peace of mind during the product's lifecycle.
Let's now take a closer at each of the new timepieces that share a mainstream round-shaped 40mm case and slightly curved lugs, a call to those looking for a casual chic understated watch. The case finish alternates brushed surfaces on the case side to mirror-polished crown, lugs, and bezel, whose thin style amplifies the dial, covered by a slightly domed sapphire crystal. The screwed case back showcases lovely details like the brand's and collection's names, and the see-through glass lets you admire the different mechanical movements available, all sporting a Côtes de Genève decoration and a solid gold winding rotor.
Also, they all share a silver-opaline dial with sunray finish, standing out against light blue hands and, where available, moon phase visualization with a blue background. Last but not least, product managers carefully selected the case to strap combination. Each steel option comes with a soft light brown Novonappa® calfskin, a leather that undergoes a vegetable-based tanning process and comes equipped with a quick-release system as standard. We expect, therefore, that Jaeger-LeCoultre is releasing a bracelet option anytime soon.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
The Master Control Date is the entry-price option. It is only available in steel, and the case is just 8,78mm high; thus, it's close to an ultra-thin. Credit goes to Caliber 899, whose height is just 3,3mm.
As pointed out, the 899 has received massive improvements; both the escapement and anchor are redesigned and crafted in silicon to minimize friction losses, and help boost power reserve. Devil is often in the details: the second-hand mechanism's new design reduces vibration, and the winding mass wheel is fastened via high-strength titanium fixing screws. The maximum power reserve extends to 70 hours, almost twice as much as the outgoing model, thanks to a new barrel housing a more performing spring. The watch is water-resistant to 5bar. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date reference Q4018420 retails for 7,100 Euro.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar
The new Master Control Calendar is the modern interpretation of a great classic from the 1940s and 1950s, hence a timepiece equipped with triple calendar and moon phase display. The case thickness jumps to 10,95mm since it houses the somewhat more complicated Caliber 866.
The large dial offers a lovely displacement of calendar and moon phases, thus feeling elegant and super clean. The two small windows atop the mid-line showcase month and day of the week, while the date has, interestingly, a pointer like display, with the red tip in the shape of the Jaeger-LeCoultre's logo, a beautiful detail.
The moon phases are displayed in the lower end instead, surrounded by the small second's chapter ring. Interestingly, engineers added a complication that lives up to a Jaeger-LeCoultre customer's highest expectations: when the day is about to switch to 16, the pointer hand temporarily jumps clockwise to align with figure 16 placed at seven o'clock, thus ensuring it never overlaps the moon phase reading. Here is the attention to technical details we all expect from such a brand. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar retails for 11,600 Euro.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic
The new Master Control Geographic retains the quintessential "Geographic" feel while housing, again, an updated mechanical movement, the Caliber 939, which guarantees a maximum power reserve of 70 hours.
The information available is, in addition to the time and the date, a 24-hour day and night indication. An additional timezone display comes along with the name of the referring city, visible through a window placed at six. The Master Control Geographic comes in steel as reference Q4128420.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar
No doubt, this is the talking piece of the new collection and a first-ever in the Master Control collection too. Equipped with Caliber 759, it pairs a column-wheel chronograph with a triple calendar and moon phase display, while guaranteeing a 65-hour maximum power reserve.
Measuring 12,05mm in thickness, it is a bi-compax chronograph (counters are at 3 and 9 respectively), which looks like a V-shaped Chrono thanks to a third counter at six, displaying the date and the moon phases. A pulsometer scale is printed on the inner ring.
I honestly hardly understand why has the brand opted for a scale I reckon is less useful than any standard tachymeter scale. The Master Control Chronograph Calendar comes in steel, as reference Q4138420, retailing for 15,300 Euro and in Le Grand Rose®, as reference Q4132520.
In short, I believe Jaeger-LeCoultre hit the nail on the head with the new Master Control, especially from a technical standpoint. Aesthetically, I'd love to see more color options for both dial and strap. And a bracelet option too. The light brown leather strap looks fabulous in either craftsmanship and quality; I would have nonetheless gone for something more modern-classic, considering the style of the watch.
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(Photo credit: courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®