14 / Mar

News from Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication

J Farren-Price - Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication

In 2010, Jaeger-­LeCoultre released one of the most glorious examples of high-horology the world had ever seen. The release set a new standard in ultra-complicated watches, not only in its boast of a minute repeater, flying tourbillon, and full celestial chart, but also in the never-before-seen innovation that marked the execution of these revered complications. Jaeger-LeCoultre has an illustrious history of invention and discovery, the continuation of which has seen watchmaking impossibilities frequently, and emphatically conquered. This pioneering resolve that so defines the brand, is distinctly manifest in their 527-part masterpiece; the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication. It is a watch that could never have been realized by another manufacture, requiring in full the experience, expertise, and ruthless perfectionism intrinsic to Jaeger-LeCoultre. Four years after its launch, the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication still draws obsessive, superlative-laden praise, offering a profoundly immersive experience for any who are privileged enough to come across it.

Conspicuous on the dial of this watch is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s beautiful new flying-tourbillon. Rotating escapements are most commonly supported by a bridge on both the top and bottom sides, ensuring the regulating organ is satisfactorily stable, and therefore resistant to shock-related imprecision. Considering however, that the tourbillon is perhaps the most visually alluring of any watch mechanism, increasing the resilience, visibility and transparency of the entire escapement has long been an aspiration for leading watchmakers. The ‘flying’ tourbillon is cantilevered for this reason, with the topside bridge removed altogether, offering gloriously unobstructed views to the beating heart of the watch.

For the very first time in a haute-horlogerie timepiece, the flying tourbillon also indicates the sidereal time. The harmonisation of the celestial indication with the escapement itself is a masterstroke. Not only does the flying tourbillon float mystifyingly above the dial, the entire sky-chart also rotates, mirroring the celestial time. Hidden below the dial is the technical marvel that enables this detailed indication, consisting of multiple, independently driven disks and ceramic ball bearings. While the specific technical innovation that enables the dials interplay will remain somewhat of a mystery to enthusiasts, the aesthetic accomplishment is undeniable. The depth of the dial is spectacular, enriched by the multi-layered and brilliantly shimmering blues of the sky-chart. The visual effect of the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication of course places it among the greatest creations of our day, and yet, there is something in this watch that is even more impressive: its sound.

There are three necessary components required to create a minute repeater: the hammers and gongs, the repeater mainspring, and the regulator. For generations, watchmakers have experimented with every kind of arrangement, material, shape and size for these parts, all in the pursuit of increased resonance, clarity and raw volume as the time is chimed. Among many enthusiasts, Jaeger-LeCoultre perhaps does not receive the recognition deserved for their contribution to the advancement of repeating technology. It seems too frequently forgotten that they are responsible for two most revolutionary innovations, which even today characterize the very best repeaters. The “silent regulator” and “cathedral gongs” were both patented in 1895, and represented a goliath leap forward in the sound quality able to be produced from a relatively tiny mechanical wristwatch. Both of these Jaeger-LeCoultre inventions are found in the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication, with their performance ameliorated by modern, and tremendously impressive technologies.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest “trébuchet hammers” contribute to the overall sound quality of the repeater by way of a signature dual-axis mechanism, which enables them to accelerate rapidly upon activation, striking the gongs with remarkable force. In fact, while traditional hammer systems only utilize 20% of the total power offered by the repeater-mainspring, the trébuchet hammers are able to deliver over 80%. These “cathedral gongs” are shaped with a square cross-sectional area, engineered to provide the necessary surface area for the increased force of the hammer’s strike.

The tone and volume of a minute repeater is of course fundamentally dependent on the gongs themselves. Traditional “cathedral gongs” differ from conventional repeater gongs primarily in their length, usually wrapping the outer circumference of the movement twice. While the increase in the available vibrating material provides volume and depth, all of the induced sound must still transfer through the watch’s dense case before reaching the eager ears of the listener. For many years, this meant that minute repeating watches could not be waterproofed, with both the gaskets and the sealing process resulting in insufficient volume and muffling. In the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication however, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s triumphant “crystal gongs” allow the watch to be waterproof to 5bar, while also delivering a level of volume which is far superior to that produced by the great majority of minute-repeating wristwatches. This is achieved by attaching the cathedral gongs to a layer of metallic foil, which is coated onto the watch’s sapphire glass, subsequently turning the glass itself into a kind of amplifier. The sound produced is absolutely brilliant. The strikes are very loud, resonant and well regulated, with the quarter repeats musical and euphonic.

The experience will not soon be forgotten; of watching keenly as the open-worked repeater-mainspring contracts tightly under the force of the sliding lever. The exhilaration of watching the first hammer-strike – its elegant ring the summation of hundreds of hours of assembly and adjustment – all done by a single, Master watchmaker.


Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 945, manually wound
Plate and bridges – non-coated nickel-silver
48-hour power reserve
527-part, 49 jewels
Silicium escapement

18-carat white gold
44mm diameter
15.6mm thick
Water resistance 5bar

Hours, minutes,
Flying-tourbillon and sky-chart
Minute repeater
Month, 24-hour display


Article credit: www.twentyonejewel.com

Just Arrived

Master Ultra Thin Jubilee

Ref 1296520

This exceptional new model was inspired by the pocket-watch launched by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1907, and which to this day remains the thinnest manually-wound mechanical pocket-watch in the world.

Thanks to its “knife-shaped” case, which is only 4.05mm thick, it is the flattest manually-winding mechanical wristwatch in existence.

  • Platinum case, limited edition of 880
  • Calibre 849, hand-wound
  • Number of pieces : 123
  • Vibrations per hour : 21600
  • Power-reserve : 35 Hours
  • Jewels : 19
  • Barrel : 1
  • Height : 1.85 mm


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