Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph
This detailed review of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph includes live pictures, specification and pricing.
Jaeger-LeCoultre needs little introduction, the company’s watchmaking prowess is unsurpassed. Over the years, the maison has produced an array of movements for the great and the good of the watchmaking world. Moreover, its own timepieces have featured manufacture movements for many years, well before supply issues led its competitors to choose ‘in-house’ movements out of strategic necessity.
The iconic Reverso has become synonymous with Jaeger-LeCoultre, however, there are other stars which populate the brand’s portfolio of models.
The Rendezvous, released in 2012, has become a huge success for the maison. Meanwhile, the Master Control line, first launched in 1992, seduces onlookers with its recipe of pure lines and vintage styling.
Some 25 years after the Master Control collection was unveiled, Jaeger-LeCoultre revealed three new models at SIHH 2017. The Master Control Date, Master Geographic and Master Chronograph form a trio of models and it is the latter timepiece which is the focal point of this review.
The sector dial arrests attention with its distinctive appearance. The central area of the dial is opaline, while the hour track is circular satin-brushed. At 6 o’clock and noon, Arabic numerals impart the hours. The numerals are san serifs, providing a contemporary appearance. The other hourly positions are denoted with black rectangular batons.
The baton hour and minute hands are blued and open-worked. The chronograph central seconds hand resembles an elongated isosceles triangle and, once again, is blued. Each subdial is snailed and features a svelte blued steel hand.
Everything seems harmonious. The bi-compax layout confers a seemly and symmetrical topography that proves most becoming. Encircling the dial is a tachymeter scale, depicted in blue, which allows the wearer to determine the speed of an object over a given distance.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has expertly equipped the dial with the essentials while masterfully sidestepping the superfluous. In so doing, the dial proves simple to interpret. However, while the dial proffers simplicity, it could not be described as plain with judiciously applied details augmenting eye-appeal. This timepiece is an exemplar of intelligent design.
The scale of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph shuns the excessive dimensions found with some modern-day timepieces. Measuring 40mm in diameter, this timepiece from Le Sentier is tastefully proportioned and grants universal wearability.
Highly polished stainless steel surfaces can be found on the bezel, upper and lower surfaces of the lugs, case-back and pushpieces. The case-band is tastefully appointed with satin-brush finishing, providing comely contrast with the highly polished surfaces and tempering the exuberance of the gleaming areas of the case.
The rectangular shaped push-pieces are comfortable to press and operate with a light, positive action courtesy of the column-wheel movement.
Disappointingly, Jaeger-LeCoultre has equipped this watch with a solid case-back. I know the Calibre 751G is beautifully appointed and yet the only person to see this no-compromise craftsmanship is the watchmaker every 3 – 5 years when the watch is serviced. An exhibition case-back would have allowed the owner to regularly quaff the many details which make a JLC movement special.
Pressing the push-pieces of the Master Chronograph revealed this to be a column-wheel movement. The buttery smooth action of the push-piece at 2 o’clock should engender a smile on the face of any self-respecting purist. When actuating the chronograph there is no discernible stutter as the central chronograph hand leaves the starting gate, rather a smooth commencement of the hand’s journey. Resetting the chronograph hand does not lead to any wobble adjacent 12 o’clock, merely a precise return to zero. There is a superior action with a column-wheel chronograph and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph wonderfully illustrates this.
The rotor and bridges are decorated with circular Côtes de Genève. The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 235 parts, including 37 jewels. The power reserve is sufficient to provide 65 hours autonomy.
When the Master collection was launched 25 years ago, the timepieces benefited from the ‘1000 Hours Control’, an ‘in-house certification, which inspired its name’. The watches were subjected to six weeks of testing, checking the watches in six positions in the pursuance of real-life wearing conditions. As part of the tests, the watch was subjected to temperature changes and shocks while the power reserve capacity and water resistance were also subject to scrutiny. Today, these tests are widely used in the watchmaking industry, but in 1992 the tests were rare, perfectly illustrating that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s reputation as an innovator in the field of mechanical watchmaking.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph is a beautiful timepiece with optimal proportions. Indeed, the dial should engender covetous thoughts on the part of any self-respecting connoisseur.
While the dial is clear to read, it does not eschew detail. The sector dial successfully blends opaline and circular satin-brushed detail. Moreover, the snailed chronograph registers introduce further texture to this tasteful ensemble.
‘Tasteful’ is a word which I often use to describe this watch. There is a judicious use of different finishes to the dial and case which proves most becoming.
The Calibre 751G is crafted to a high standard and the push-pieces bestow a wonderful tactile encounter, courtesy of the column-wheel movement.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a luxury brand of the highest order and yet it understands the notion of value. The recommended retail price of the Master Chronograph is £7000 (RRP as at 5.10.2017), proving that excellence can be delivered at reasonable cost and making this timepiece an interesting watch, worthy of consideration.
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40 mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back; water resistance 5 bar (50 metres)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, tachymeter scale
Movement: Calibre 751G; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve 65 hours
Strap: Blue alligator leather strap with steel pin buckle
Price: £7,000 (RRP as at 5.10.2017)
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.