Watches And Wonder 2024: Jaeger-LeCoultre Releases

by The Balance Coq

  • April 9, 2024

At this year’s Watches and Wonder event, the Watchmaker of Watchmakers decided to showcase how it earned that reputation.  Jaeger-LeCoultre released an ultra-thin perpetual calendar, a Heliotourbillon perpetual,  a moonphase chronograph and a moonphase complication in steel.  Let’s take a closer look at the Maison’s new releases.

The Duometre Quantieme Lunaire

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Marking the launch of three new Duometre models in 2024, Jaeger-LeCoultre has designed an entirely new case for the collection. A contemporary interpretation of the savonette pocket watches created by the Maison in the 19th-century, its rounded contours are highly tactile as well as visually appealing.  (The French word savonette literally means a small disc of soap with rounded contours that can be cradled in the palm of a hand.) With its convex crystal and gracefully rounded bezel, the new Duometre case expresses this literal definition very well. The crown, too, has been redesigned, with deep and rounded notches that make it a joy to handle. Indeed, the only sharp lines to be found are on the highly polished edges of the lugs.

A comfortable 42.5 mm in diameter, the case is a complex structure of 34 separate parts and the lugs are screwed rather than integrated, to enable multiple finishing techniques. A mixture of polished, brushed and micro-blasted surfaces creates a fascinating play of light with every movement of the wrist.

With its blue dial and steel case, the new interpretation of the Duometre Quantieme Lunaire lends a decidedly contemporary air to a technically sophisticated timepiece. It perfectly represents Jaeger-LeCoultre’s relentless pursuit of precision and its spirit of innovation, anchored in a deep respect for the traditions of Haute Horlogerie.

The Duometre Chronograph Moon (In Platinum, And Pink Gold)

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At Watches and Wonders 2024, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents the Duometre Chronograph Moon in two variations: a platinum case contrasting with a copper-coloured dial, and a pink gold case offset by the discreet elegance of a silver dial. Both models are enhanced by a hand-stitched alligator strap with small-scale alligator lining.

Have we mentioned that the two models are powered by a brand new watch movement – the Calibre 391?

For Calibre 391, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engineers started from the ground up to develop a fully integrated movement that combines a manually wound mono-pusher chronograph with moon phase and night-day complications, as well as two power reserve indicators and a seconde foudroyante (flying second) display.  When the chronograph mechanism is activated, the foudroyante hand begins its whirling dance, making a complete rotation in one second, during which it beats six times – stopping instantaneously when the chronograph timer is stopped and thus providing a reading accurate to 1/6th of a second.

A comfortable 42.5 mm in diameter, the case is a complex structure of 34 separate parts and the lugs are screwed rather than integrated to enable the use of multiple finishing techniques. A mixture of polished, brushed and micro-blasted surfaces creates a fascinating play of light with every movement of the wrist.

With an entirely new calibre, dial and case, the Duometre Chronograph Moon is an eloquent expression of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s relentlessly creative spirit. It embodies the Maison’s philosophy of combining beauty with technical sophistication, and a deep respect for the traditions of Haute Horlogerie with constant innovation – always with precision at the heart of the matter.

The Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual

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Over the course of almost two centuries, Jaeger-LeCoultre has distinguished itself through the development of increasingly sophisticated means of achieving the perfect regularity of the ‘heartbeat’ of its calibres – essential for accurate timekeeping. Among the key areas of research in this pursuit of precision, the Manufacture has developed great expertise in tourbillons and also invented the Duometre mechanism, which enables the addition of complications without any compromise to the accuracy of the timekeeping function.

In 2024, Jaeger-LeCoultre unites these two lines of development, to create the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual. Pushing the boundaries of inventiveness further than ever, the new Calibre 388 features an entirely new tourbillon construction: one that spins on three axes to create a ‘spinning top’ effect. Beating at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 vph) to further enhance chronometry, Calibre 388 also incorporates a perpetual calendar with a grande date indication.

Incorporating almost eight decades of accumulated expertise in the tourbillon regulating mechanism, the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual, features a newly developed tourbillon configuration that rotates on three axes. In doing so, it creates a completely new kinematic effect for Jaeger-LeCoultre resembling a spinning top.

Initially devised for pocket-watches, the traditional tourbillon, which spins on a single axis, does not compensate for the effects of gravity in all positions. Having understood that an additional axis of rotation must be added in order to be more effective in all positions that a wrist-worn watch may adopt, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engineers developed the dual-axis Gyrotourbillon, and various other tourbillon configurations, each fitted with differently shaped hairsprings.

Fitted with a cylindrical hairspring, the Heliotourbillon takes this thinking further, with a newly developed construction comprising three titanium cages rotating on three axes. The first cage is set at a 90-degree angle to the balance wheel and rotates perpendicular to it. The second cage is set at 90 degrees to the first (thus, on the same plane as the balance wheel). Together, these two cages are constrained by an axis tilted at 40 degrees and make a full rotation in 30 seconds. The third cage is perpendicular to the second and makes a full rotation in 60 seconds. Supported on ceramic ball bearings to minimise friction, the tourbillon consists of 163 components and weighs less than 0.7 grams.

As a noble complement to the highly sophisticated tourbillon and Duometre mechanisms, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmakers integrated a perpetual calendar into Calibre 388. Among the most challenging complications to master, a perpetual calendar is a miniature mechanical computer that must automatically adjust for months of different lengths and for leap years; it needs manual correction of the day and date indications only in 2100 and in subsequent centenary years that are not also leap years.

A feature of Calibre 388 is that the hours and minutes can be set either backwards or forwards without compromising the perpetual calendar. Because normally, a perpetual calendar is set through the passing of time (the hour and minute hands), adjusting the time backwards desynchronises and can damage the calendar mechanism. In Calibre 388, the relationship between the winding and calendar assemblies is such that the perpetual calendar mechanism moves forwards only and cannot be dragged backwards when the time is set backwards.

Other notable features of Calibre 388 include a Grande Date display: a classical yet rare complication sought-after by watch connoisseurs, it is set at the 3 o’clock position on the hours-and-minutes sub-dial, ensuring great legibility. The year indication shows the last digit of a leap year in red – a Jaeger-LeCoultre patent – and the moon-phase indication is accurate to 122 years.

The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar Collection

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Jaeger-LeCoultre conceived the Master Ultra Thin collection as the quintessential dress watch for the modern aesthete, harnessing the Maison’s long history of mastering thin calibres and epitomising its philosophy of uniting mechanical virtuosity with timeless beauty. In 2024, the collection has been refreshed and includes a new interpretation of the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, featuring a subtly modernised case and dial design, as well as a significantly increased power reserve.

The reason for the complexity of our calendar, with its leap years and different numbers of days in the months, lies in an anomaly between the way we measure civil time and the cycles of the celestial bodies on which those measurements are based. Our 365-day calendar year is almost 6 hours shorter than a solar year (the time it takes for the Sun to return to the same position in the sky, completing a full cycle of seasons), which lasts approximately 365.2425 days.

Consequently, for watchmakers, a perpetual calendar is among the most challenging complications to master; a miniature mechanical computer, it must automatically adjust for months of different lengths and for leap years. Unlike a simple date display, which must be adjusted at the end of every month that doesn’t have 31 days, a perpetual calendar will not need any manual correction until 2100, which is a non-leap-year centenary. On centenary years that are also leap years it needs no adjustment.

Calibre 868, which powers the 2024 Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, was designed, produced and assembled in-house at Jaeger-LeCoultre; it evolved from the well-proven perpetual calendar movement launched by the Manufacture in 2013. In line with the Manufacture’s constant drive for technical innovation, the latest-generation Calibre 868 features a new escapement and pallets – reconstructed in a slightly modified shape, they minimise friction and thus consume less energy – and offers a robust power reserve of 70 hours. The long power reserve is particularly appreciated in a calibre with such complex indications and allows the wearer to set the watch aside for an entire weekend and wear it again on Monday without needing to correct any indications. When required, correction is done simply, via a single corrector set in the side of the case.

While the size of the case remains the same as the original Master Ultra Thin Perpetual calendar – retaining the elegant 39mm diameter and 9.2 mm thickness – its design has been subtly modernised, with revised proportions and slimmer, more elongated lugs that make it even more comfortable on wrists of all sizes.

Four variations are offered, including a model with a new gradient midnight blue dial that contrasts dramatically its pink gold case. The azure finish of the sub-dials (ultra-fine engraving in perfectly regular, concentric circles) stands out against the sunray-brushing of the main dial, creating a beautiful play of light. In addition, two pink gold models are presented with classical eggshell dials – one with diamonds set around the bezel, one without. A fourth variation is offered in steel with a sunray-brushed silver dial. The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar is presented on an alligator strap that can easily be interchanged according to the mood of the wearer.

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