For those of us who cannot speak French, or who have no ear for the gentleness of the romantic languages, Jaeger-LeCoultre can be a difficult brand name to properly pronounce. On first viewing our reaction is to turn to the hard consonant sounds…as if the brand was worn on the wrist of a misspelt Rolling Stone.But this timeless watch brand is nothing if not a contradiction, simple yet complicated, stylish but immensely practical – beautiful and well, …beautiful.This year marks the brand’s 180th year of creating the worlds most complicated, engaging, mesmerising timepieces.
We recently talked to head of Jaeger-LeCoultre Australia/Pacific, M. Pierre Durand. (As you would expect an elegant, articulate man of style and grace). His immense pride in the company was obvious as was his growing appreciation of his adopted homeland. M.Durand talked us through the brand’s wonderful history of design and innovation, as well as some of his favourite pieces. The pride of place goes to The Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee (RRP $170,000). Released at The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2013, the watch is fixed with a flying (cantilevered) tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. Inside the large 42mm case, a Jaeger-LeCoultre 985 beats to the rhythm of a flying tourbillon with a balance-spring to guarantee perfection in precision timing. This master of miniscule engineering appears to suspend in mid-air at the very heart of the movement.But would you expect less from a maker that has created over 400 patents and more than 1200 calibres in the last 180 years? And this is the pride that M. Durand openly displays; pride and love of a brand that is known and treasured the world over, whether for an engineering masterpiece such as the ‘Master Grande’ or the piece that is the face of the company, the now famous ‘Reverso’. (Originally designed for polo players, the watch face can be ‘reversed’ so that it isn’t damaged by horse, ball or mallet).
“Oooo No!” claims M. Durand. “We are loved by too many, and admired by even more!” He may well be right.
(To those still struggling with pronunciation, try this: “Jzay-Jzer Le Cool-tre”.