Stealing the spotlight at this year’s Watches & Wonders, Jaeger-LeCoultre revealed its Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication with a magnificent new design. This follows last year’s introduction of two minute repeaters – Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel with calibre 184 and Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpétuelle with self-winding calibre 950.
The new Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication harnesses more than a century and a half of accumulated expertise. This masterpiece of mechanical engineering incorporates two of the most romantic and challenging complications in horology – a minute repeater and a celestial vault. In addition, the complex mechanism is further elevated by an orbital flying tourbillon. This limited edition of eight pieces each in rose gold and in white gold features a new aesthetic and mastery of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
A modern minute repeater
As one of the most challenging watchmaking complications, a minute repeater is also a miniature musical instrument. The difficulty in creating one lies in its complexity as it needs to transcribe the precise time shown by the hands into a series of programmed strikes. In other words, the strikes need to produce a sound that is clear, pure and rich.
It must be added that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s portfolio has prominently kept minute repeaters in its portfolio for over the past one and a half century. Their mastery of chiming watches is confirmed by more than 200 calibres, including some 100 minute repeaters made before the year 1900.
This mastery is clearly shown in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s use of the superior acoustic qualities of synthetic sapphire crystal to transmit the sound from within the watch. One of the most important elements of a chiming watch is the way in which sound is transmitted to be heard by the human ear. Jaeger-leCoultre’s patented ‘crystal gongs’ (introduced in 2005) are soldered directly to the sapphire crystal, which acts as an amplifier. These square-profile gongs provide a flat striking surface for the hammers, ensuring more consistent and powerful strikes, while the additional material provides a greater vibrational mass and thus a fuller sound. The articulated trebuchet hammers (introduced in 2009) use a similar mechanical principle to the medieval counterweight catapults, greatly improving the speed and force of the hammer strike.
A celestial display
The new Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication uses astronomical complications in its celestial vault complication, which defines the dial of the watch. Jaeger-LeCoultre first brought together the innovations of its new-generation minute repeaters with an astronomical display in the original Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication of 2010. That watch also introduced the Orbital Flying Tourbillon, integrating it into the mechanism as a regulating device.
As well as turning on its own axis in 60 seconds, the tourbillon makes a complete, anti-clockwise circuit of the dial in one sidereal day. Slightly shorter than a solar day, a sidereal day is based on Earth’s rotation measured relative to the ‘fixed’ stars, which takes precisely 23 h, 56 min and 4.1 seconds. The sidereal day is used by astronomers to follow the apparent movement of the stars across the night sky.
A golden sun-shaped pointer set at the edge of the disc of constellations indicates the date, the month, and the signs of the Zodiac, as well as the 24-hour scale that is marked on the inner flange of the dial. Civil time is read on the two concentric rings that complete the dial: applied hour indexes on the first ring and minutes on the silvery-white outer ring.
When it comes to the appearance, the timepiece is offered in two versions: one marries the warm glow of pink gold to a black dial, while the other combines deep blue tones with the white gold and the sparkle of baguette-cut diamonds, which are set on the bezel.
The dial has multiple levels that amplify the beauty of the celestial theme while also showcasing the orbiting tourbillon. On the deepest level of the dial, a midnight blue or black disc (depending on the model) is decorated with tiny stars. Above it, a delicate filigree forms a dome. The star chart depicts the Northern Hemisphere night sky, as seen from the 46th parallel – the latitude of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Vallée de Joux.
Comprising more than 80 parts, the case’s convex bezel is complemented by broad bevels on the lugs. Different surfaces are microblasted, polished and satin-brushed to maximise the light and the details.
Dimensions: 45 mm
Calibre: manual mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 945
Functions: hours/minutes, month, 24-hour indication, orbital flying tourbillon indicating the sidereal time, minute repeater with cathedral ‘crystal gongs’ soldered directly to the sapphire crystal, celestial disc with star chart indicating the constellations in the north hemisphere
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case: satin, micro-blasted and polished finishes, pink gold or white gold with bezel set with baguette- cut diamonds (44 diamonds – 3.76 carats)
Dial: black dial with golden laser welded structure (pink gold version) or blue dial with silvered laser welded structure (white gold version)
Case back: open
Water resistance: 5 bar
Each version is limited to 8 pieces.
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