Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On The Wrist: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee

There were some less-than flattering words thrown at Jaeger-LeCoultre when they first launched the Master "Ultra-Thin" range. Those words ranged from the tame "that ain't so thin" to the downright nasty "they're lying about them ultra thins." (ed's notes: the vocab has been toned down to suit a wider range of audience) It's as if Jaeger has taken all these criticisms to heart and they're now doing ultra thins that are in fact, actually ultra thin.

To wit: The Master Ultra Thin Jubilee. The name is startling short compared to its Jubilee brethren. But as we have mentioned before here it is a lot more difficult to do a thin watch than a big watch with a ton of complications. This watch is the best example of "watchmaking dexterity" to borrow a term used frequently in PR blurbs. The Master Ultra Thin Jubilee runs a well-proven manual winding movement calibre 849, which is used in the Master Ultra Thin 34 and 38. This movement, at 1.85mm, is relatively thick (Vacheron's ultra thin movement is but 1.55mm) but the whole cased up watch hieght of 4.05mm is a mere 0.05mm thinner than the Vacheron, thus claiming the title of the world's thinnest mechanical watch right now.

The Master Ultra Thin Jubilee pays tribute to a time in the history of the brand - when Mr Jaeger met Mr LeCoultre. It was back around 1903 when Edmond Jaeger challenged watchmakers in Geneva to produce an ultra thin movement of his design, and Jacque-David LeCoultre, grandson of Antoine LeCoultre, said "Challenge accepted!" and in1907 the world's thinnest pocket watch was created. The movement inside (calibre 145), measuring a mere 1.38mm, remains the thinnest movement in the world. This meeting led to the eventual creation of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The original ultra thin pocket watch from 1907 - Courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre
Here's a bit of maths trivia. You take away the movement height of 1.85mm away from the total watch height of 4.05mm and what does that leave you? The answer is not a whole lot! But the better answer is 2.2mm, in which you still need to cram in a crystal, two hands, a dial and a case back. If you think about it there is very little room to work with, and this watch is assembled by the top watchmakers in the high complications workshop at the Manufacture. The case is what Jaeger calls a "knife-edge" case meaning there isn't actually a 'case' so to speak. It's that thin.

Even though it is made from the same extra-white platinum as the other watches in the Jubilee collection , it is extremely light and you almost don't feel it when it is on the wrist. The blue alligator strap goes really well with the watch, but unfortunately the one we looked at was a prototype, and production watches will be (and has been) delivered with a shiny black croco strap, making it very, very dressy. (I'd try to find a nice dark blue strap to swap the watch back onto)

This piece is a limited edition of 880 pieces worldwide, and a snip at only $18,900. We think at this price they'll be gone as fast as the watch is thin.


Horologium said...

I LOVE this piece. It's deeply elegant and I'd wear it in a heartbeat.

Unknown said...

i second @horologium - such a lovely piece and so elegant and beautiful. Well done JLC on this piece!