Jaeger-LeCoultre recently added an exceptional Japanese-sourced miniature enamel painting to the caseback of a white gold Reverso, expanding the watchmaker’s artisanal and eclectic Reverso Tribute collection.
On the back of the new Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai Kirifuri Waterfall, a limited edition of ten pieces, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rare Handcrafts artisans have reproduced a woodblock print of the Kirifuri Waterfall made by Katsushika Hokusai in the early 1830s.
To transfer the image, the artisans first needed to perfectly scale the image from its original woodblock size to fit the Reverso’s caseback. This required reproducing the image to a size one-tenth of the original. And if you look at the image, you’ll see that part of that challenge meant also miniaturizing a group of small human figures pictured at the base of the waterfall.
After more than seventy hours of work (per piece), the enamel artisans met that challenge.
On the Reverso’s flipside, artisans decorated the dial with a wavy guilloché pattern that nicely echoes the effect of moving water. Jaeger-LeCoultre reports that this was done by hand using a century-old lathe with a specially tooled cam. The artisan amplified the wavy effects with layers of translucent grand feu enamel in a soft shade of green that perfectly matches the painting on the reverse side.
The watchmaker adds that it takes five working hours to perfect the guilloché, followed by eight working hours for the layers of translucent green enamel.
The resulting rich green dial, paired with pristine enamel Kirifuri Waterfall painting on the caseback, combine to create yet another visual treat from Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Almost hidden beneath all this beauty is decades of Reverso dual-side case design and the robust manually wound Caliber 822, which powers a simple two-hand dial. All told, a stunning package.
A clear sapphire caseback is not the only new feature that makes the latest Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox distinctive from its predecessors. Jaeger-LeCoultre has also completely redesigned the striking mechanism, in part by attaching the alarm gong directly to the case side rather than the solid caseback.
This overriding change anchors the Master Control Memovox Timer and the Master Control Memovox, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s two newest updated and upgraded Memovox offerings.
Differentiating the two debuts, announced earlier this month, is a new alarm-setting mechanism within the Master Control Memovox Timer, and a subtly updated dial design with a date display that characterizes the Master Control Memovox.
Five years after Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced its first Memovox, which debuted in 1951, the Swiss watchmaker made history by developing an automatic version, the first automatically wound alarm wristwatch. Its chime is the audible result of the movement’s hammers hitting circular gongs, which have historically relied on the caseback for amplification of the chime.
The newest Memovox models feature gongs attached to the case itself rather than the (now-sapphire) caseback. While I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to these chimes directly, I suspect Jaeger-LeCoultre has taken great pains to retain the Memovox’s distinctive ‘school-bell’ tone with this update to Caliber 956.
The newly transparent sapphire back, which allows the wearer to watch the chime hammer in action, also exposes a new, open-worked pink gold rotor, decorated with Côtes de Genève to match the fine finishing on the movement plates.
On the new Memovox Timer, Jaeger-LeCoultre developed a timer that enables the owner to set the alarm, using the top crown, based on the number of hours that should elapse before the alarm rings.
Alternatively, the owner can set the alarm to sound at a particular time. The small hand with the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo indicates the elapsed hours-until-alarm. On the outer edge of the distinctive Memovox inner ring (here quite modern, engraved in bas-relief), a triangular marker points to the time at which the alarm will ring.
Jaeger-LeCoultre will produce the Master Control Memovox Timer as a limited edition of 250 pieces. Price: $15,700.
For the Master Control Memovox, Jaeger-LeCoultre offers a subtly modernized version of its manual-winding 1950 Memovox.
Note its classical alarm and date display with a silvery sunray-brushed dial, applied triangular indexes, Dauphine hands with an updated blue seconds hand. As a nod to the past, Jaeger-LeCoultre has paired the Master Control Memovox with a new Novonappa calfskin strap that recalls the color of the first Memovox straps. Price: $11,600.
Jaeger-LeCoultre presents both these new Memovox models in the new 40mm Master Control case with an angled bezel, curved lugs and a contemporary combination of polished and satin-brushed surfaces.
Specifications: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox
Case: 40mm x 12.39mm stainless steel with satin and polished finishes, clear sapphire caseback, 50 meters water resistance.
Ever since its 1992 debut, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection has been the source of many of the watchmaker’s most classically styled complicated watches. At the recent (virtual) Watches & Wonders 2020, Jaeger-LeCoultre refreshed that well-rounded collection with new movements, more contemporary styling and more impressive technical specifications.
To do this, the watchmaker has incorporated design cues from many of its most important collections over many decades, most notably the Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox designs of the 1950s.
A few of the overall updates and Master Control enhancements include:
— A new 40mm case design that includes models with a new pink gold alloy called Le Grand Rose gold.
–New movements with increased power reserves (up to 70 hours in many of the new calibers). Most prominently, Jaeger-LeCoultre has re-engineered Calibre 899, a pillar of the Master Control collection. The improvements (also incorporated into the entire range of Master Control calibers) include a silicon escapement, a redesigned barrel and various energy-saving enhancements.
–On the dials, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers place sunray brushing on a silvery-white background, a blue central seconds hand on some models and blued subdial hands.
— All case-sides will be satin-brushed and complemented by a polished bezel, crowns and lugs. On the back you’ll find bas-relief engravings and a sapphire crystal caseback.
— The collection will now include soft, tan matte-finish Novonappa calf leather straps, made in France through a vegetable-based tanning process. The new straps can be changed without the need for a tool.
Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, the Master Control watches carry an eight-year warranty in addition to the 1,000 Hours Control certification.
Master Control Chronograph Calendar
At the top of the new Master Control lineup is this model, set with a newly developed movement, Calibre 759, that combines a chronograph with a triple calendar display and a moonphase display. The new movement features a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch, a moon-phase indicator and a 65-hour power reserve.
A central chronograph seconds hand anchors the watch’s triple calendar, bi-compax display, while a pulsometric scale is marked around the dial flange. Jaeger-LeCoultre also adds rectangular chronograph pushers to the case, which is offered in steel ($14,500) or the new Le Grand Rose gold alloy ($26,000).
Master Control Date
With a thin 8.78mm case and a clean design, this model is directed by the new caliber Calibre 899, which now features a silicon escapement and pallets made using a slightly modified shape. Jaeger-LeCoultre says it has also remade the central-seconds wheel to eliminate shaking while also utilizing titanium for the fixing screws of the oscillating wheel.
In order to increase the watch’s power reserve to seventy hours, Jaeger-LeCoultre redesigned the barrel to accommodate a stronger and longer mainspring without increasing the 3.3mm height of the movement. Price: $6,700.
Master Control Calendar
Here Jaeger-LeCoultre retains the model’s classical layout with the dates marked around the edge and indicated by a red-tipped hand, the days and months displayed in the upper part of the dial, and the moon-phase set within the small seconds subdial. But now there’s an all-new jumping complication.
Every month, the date hand makes a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th, which means the hand never obscures the moon-phase display. Available in rose gold ($22,500) and steel ($11,000).
Master Control Geographic
Now powered by the new-generation Calibre 939 (with a full 70-hour power reserve) the Master Control Geographic retains its familiar layout, with timezone displays balanced by a date subdial and a power reserve indicator. But now Jaeger-LeCoultre has brushed the entire dial in a brushed sunray pattern and added elongated triangular indexes.
The watch’s unusual world time indication displays the city name relating to the zone, which gives travellers the option of setting the second time by location, rather than needing to calculate the time difference. The new edition is available in a choice of steel ($12,200) or Le Grand Rose gold case ($23,700).
MASTER CONTROL CHRONOGRAPH CALENDAR
Caliber: Automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 759 with a 65-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours/minutes, small seconds, calendar with date, day and month indications, moon phases, chronograph
Case: 40mm x 12.05mm stainless steel or Le Grand Rose gold, satin and polished finishes, sapphire crystal case-back, water-resistance to 50 meters