June 15, 2017
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Perpetual Calendar 8 Days is created in a limited edition of 200 unique pieces.
The wristwatch edition is based on this 1928 pocket watch.
Master engraver Dominique Vuez works on the tiny components.
Master enameller Miklos Merczel spends two full days finishing one piece.
—ROBERTA NAAS, ATimelyPerspective.com
Blending the arts of watchmaking, engraving, enameling, and more—all in a timepiece that not only reflects history but houses the visionary forethought of today and tomorrow—is no easy feat. But somehow, Jaeger-LeCoultre makes it seem like it is. This is especially the case with the brand’s Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetual 8 Jours SQ; a masterpiece of art thanks to the skeletonized work, the engraving and the enameling.
Six years in the making, the new Haute Horlogerie skeletonized timepiece is being created in a limited edition of just 200 pieces. It is inspired by a 1928 Grande Complication pocket watch and is replicated in wristwatch format in all its glory. Skeletonizing is an extremely difficult process that requires the master artisan to carefully pare away as much metal from each component without affecting its qualities. It is an art of patience, elegance, and effort. Says the brand’s master engraver, Dominique Vuez, “When we skeletonize a movement, we must assure that neither its rigidity nor its reliability could potentially be undermined.”
After completing a detailed skeletonizing plan, the master and his team take their traditional jigsaws and limes in hand and begin the delicate work—millimeter after millimeter. All parts are then beveled, polished, and elaborately engraved by hand, one by one. Additionally, the gold rings that adorn this watch are not only finely chiseled by hand, but also enameled transparent blue using the Grand Feu champlevé method that relies on extremely high temperatures of between 800 and 820 degrees Celsius. The Manufacture’s most experienced enamellers need two full days to complete the two enamel rings that surround the dial and movement.
Finally, a master watchmaker unites the more than 262 parts, including springs, levers, program wheels, pinions, and gears that comprise the Jaeger-LeCoutlre Calibre 876. Only after this step is the watch subjected to meticulous tests of function and stress in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 1000 Hours control unit. The watch offers complete perpetual calendar with age of moon, and an 8-day power reserve indicator with a day/night display. A total of 200 Master Grande Tradition à Quantième Perpetual 8 Jours SQ wristwatches will leave the Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux, and each one is unique. Numerous tiny details necessarily distinguish one skeletonized movement from all others, and the grand feu enamel in one watch will never be wholly identical with its counterpart in another.
While the video below showcases the Reverso watch and a few other masterpieces, it deftly demonstrates the brand’s artisanry and other amazing 180 skills used on its timepieces, including the Master Grande Tradition QP 8 Days. It’s worth the minute or so of your time.
Founder and editor-in-chief of ATimelyPerspective.com, Roberta Naas is a veteran award-winning journalist in the watch industry with more than 25 years of experience. She was the first woman watch editor in the US market—breaking in to an “all boys network” with a pioneering spirit that would be her signature to this day. Naas brings responsible, factual—yet always timely and insightful—reporting of the watch industry to the forefront.