If the design of this watch feels somehow familiar, you won’t be surprised to learn that Detroit Watch co-designers Patrick and Amy Ayoub have once again applied their classical blueprint to their American-based brand.
Two variations of the brand’s new stand-alone Pontchartrain collection are housed in an elegantly stepped 42mm stainless steel case. Both feature automatic ETA Swiss-made movements, one with a sub-second and the other with a choice of silver or gold moon-phase complication.
All the qualities you’d expect in a high-quality, high-value watch are here, including sapphire crystal, exhibition back, superior decoration on the Swiss movement and a calfskin strap, which all come together to make a fine watch. Under the loupe the hands are as superb as the dials, and even the crown looks, feels and functions beautifully.
Those outside the Detroit area might ask why “Pontchartrain” for a Detroit-based brand? The Ayoubs chose this name to recall the historic fort that was built in 1701 and actually ended up applying its name to the city. France’s King Louis XIV commissioned Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit as the first permanent French settlement in the area and as a center for the fur trade and French military power in 1701.
Built along the Detroit River in order to protect the French trade from the British, the fort was named in honor of Louis XIV’s minister of marine and colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain. Le Detroit, French for ‘the strait’ eventually came to identify Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit and the surrounding area and after 1751, was known simply as Fort Detroit.
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