Jaeger-LeCoultre's handsome new watches are understatedly impressive
If you’re in the market to spend a serious amount of money on a watch, there are plenty of ways you can let people know that this is what you’ve done. You could go for something ‘complicated’ with multiple sub-dials, an overworked tourbillon and other whistles and bells. You could go for something futuristic made by a brand known largely to connoisseurs, working at the cutting edge of material science. You could go for something big, gold and blingy.
Alternatively, you could go for something understated and small, that didn’t shout about its place in the upper echelons of watchmaking. That caught people’s attention with its clean, simple design and handsome finishing. A watch that suggested a certain amount of maturity, that caught the eye without shouting, precisely because everything about it just looked just so.
This is what Jaeger-LeCoultre achieved with its Master Control collection, which made its debut in 1992. Marrying paired-down looks with scaled-up functionality (the collection went through six weeks of stringent tests, including temperature fluctuations and impact testing), this was luxury watch design at its purest. The Master Control collection recalled classic mid-century watches with their ‘sector’ dials – split into different sections, a look popular with watches designed for military and scientific use – and bright blue pops of colour on the five minute markers and date window.
Today Jaeger Le-Coultre has announced updates to three watches in that family. The Master Control Date, the Master Control Calendar and the Master Control Geographic.
The Master Control Date retains the classic silver-white dial palate, slimline steel case and burst of blue on the seconds hand but updates the movement, so it now comes with a power reserve of 70 hours.
Meanwhile the new Master Control Calendar adds a couple of functions to the above, but does so without cluttering things up and maintaining the same simple aesthetic. Days and months are displayed in the upper part of the dial, with a moon-phase indicator set within the small seconds sundial in the lower part. A new jumping complication means the date hand makes a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th every month, so as not to obscure the moon-phase display.
Finally, the Master Control Geographic offers a second time zone that can be read and adjusted much more easily than on GMT watches. A second sub-dial shows hours and minutes in another time zone, and an additional small 24-hour display for the second time zone makes it easy to know whether it’s day or night-time in the other time zone. Again, a new-generation calibre increases the power reserve to 70 hours.
All three watches are available on a new strap made of Novonappa calf leather, known internally as ‘candle touch’ leather, which gives some idea of its softness. There are also two choices of case material, steel and a new pink gold alloy (‘Le Grand Rose' gold).
Master Control Date, £6,000; Master Control Calendar, £9,600; Master Control Geographic, £10,900; jaeger-lecoultre.com