4.70 millimeters. It’s a small, but oh so important number, since it allows Jaeger-LeCoultre to claim yet another record in the watchmaking industry. Having already beaten Piaget and the Altiplano 900P to the title of the world’s thinnest mechanical watch in the world, Jaeger-LeCoultre adds the world’s thinnest mechanical watch with a diamond set-bezel to its trophy collection. Size matters.
But size is not the whole story. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette Ref. 1343501 remains an incredibly complex timepiece, with multiple layers of craftsmanship that true watch collectors will greatly appreciate.
The case, in 18k white or pink gold, is hardly thicker than the strap. Measuring 38 mm wide, it features a skeletonized dial as well as a ring of textured mother of pearl, divided into twelve chapters surrounding golden hour and minute feuille hands.
Depending on the culture, the diamond version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette may look a little feminine. Diamonds and mother of pearl are so often associated to ladies’ timepieces, although in Hong Kong, where we saw this piece, it delighted collectors of all genders. It is also quite obvious that the watch looks better on a hairless wrist.
If this is an issue for you, as it is for me, consider Piaget’s diamond-set Altiplano Chronograph. The thinnest chronograph in the world, it fits the bill as an elegant, ultra-thin dress watch. And the chronograph complication is definitely a little ‘manlier.’ However, the 8.24 mm case is double the size of the Master Ultra Thin Squelette. In fact, the chronograph movement alone is larger than the whole Jaeger-LeCoutlre watch.
Another concern the watch raises is legibility. I get that legibility is not the point of the watch, and I doubt this watch would be worn to know the time down to the minute. More often than not, I imagine the wearer would glance at this timepiece to appreciate the beauty of it.
It is nothing short of a modern objet d’art. And in both models, in white or in pink gold, the echo between the case and the hands definitely highlights the hours and minutes. Beating away inside this incredibly thin watch is the in-house caliber 849ASQ. Produced from 119 parts and fully skeletonized, the movement is beautifully decorated and exposed on both sides to its owner. However, the power reserve is quite short at 33 hours.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette is available in pink gold and in white gold with diamonds, priced at $72,500 and $75,000 respectively. Both models are limited to 100 pieces and come with an alligator strap.