The luxury watch industry as we know it hasn’t been around for all that long. It really began when cheaper-to-make quartz watches removed a lot of the relevancy that mechanical watches had up until that point. This caused the mechanical watch industry to partially reinvent itself. Certain high-end timepieces of today hearken back to watches that were originally designed for very practical purposes before mechanical watches as much about luxury.
Most of us take watch accuracy for granted these days. The clocks on our phones and computers seem to always be right, but such ubiquitous accurate clocks weren’t always around. When mechanical means of measuring the time were state of the art, Switzerland’s best brands would often participate in chronometry competitions to see who made the most accurate timepieces. These notoriously fickle competitions put movements through rather rigorous tests, but the outcome were timepieces that eventually allow the market to offer consumers more and more accurate mechanical watches.
Such chronometry competitions still take place today in Switzerland – but are often a point of pride in small watch maker and collector circles. A regular competitor is of course Jaeger-LeCoultre, who recently achieved a really high score with their Calibre 978 tourbillon movement. That same movement is used here in the Master Grande Tradition a Tourbillon watch collection that comes in three slightly different styles.
The Calibre 978 movement was designed for accuracy and an adherence to Swiss watch making tradition. It uses a tourbillon designed to maintain consistent rate results, which in this case is rather light in weight due to the use of titanium for the carriage. The movement is an automatic with a 22k gold rotor, and has a power reserve of 48 hours. How accurate is it? Well that is tough to say because it depends on various conditions as well as how well adjusted the watch is. Suffice it to say that it should be very accurate compared to most other mechanical watches of this type. The movement has the time and date, while two of the Master Tourbillon watches also have 24 hour GMT subsidiary dials.
As stated, Jaeger-LeCoultre will offer three versions of the watch – each with slightly different designs and slightly different names. Seen above is the Master Grande Tradition a Tourbillon that is 43mm wide in 18k pink gold. There is also a platinum version of it that is limited to 200 pieces. Additionally available is the 41.5mm wide Master Tourbillon (below, left) and the 39mm wide Master Date Tourbillon (below, right), each in 18k pink gold as well. This trio of Calibre 978 containing watches each has a slightly different dial design, all hearkening back to the 1950s which many consider to be one of the golden eras of Swiss chronometry competitions.
The Master Grande Tradition a Tourbillon watch shows the time via elegantly with gold dauphine hands as the exposed tourbillon doubles as the subsidiary seconds dial. Under 12 o’clock is a GMT hand that can be adjusted to indicate a second time zone. A different décor on the GMT dial is used to differentiate AM and PM times. Around the dial is a “pointer” style date indicator. Jaeger-LeCoultre designed the date hand to completely jump over the tourbillon window so as to never obscure the view of it (though the hour and minute hands still can). From a design perspective the dial and case is 100% Jaeger-LeCoultre DNA, and that is just how many people prefer it.
For many these are dream watches, while I find the focus on accuracy and reliability in the movement design to be very appealing. Price for the Master Grande Tradition a Tourbillon 43 watch is 60,000 euros in 18k pink gold and 72,000 euros for the limited edition platinum model. www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.
- 43mm wide 18k pink gold case
- Exposed tourbillon doubles as seconds hand
- Pointer style date hand
- GMT second time zone subdial
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.