Monday, September 29, 2014

Quick Look: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

One of the most underrated watch in the current Jaeger-LeCoultre range is also one of its finest in my humble opinion. It is the basic Master Control Date, powered by the Caliber 899 movement. This is the entry level piece to the Master range and it is also the entry level piece to the Men's automatic range for Jaeger-LeCoultre. Competitively priced at $8,400. So competitive in fact that these pieces are quietly flying out the doors. A quick ring-around the AD network in Australia uncovers a not-surprising fact: the watch is back ordered and there is a waiting list! This is usually reserved for over-hyped sought after limited editions in other brands but something quite unheard of in a core range product. You know they have a winner on their hands when this is the sort of problem they have. I would've added my name to the waiting list had I the money to spend on such a classic.

I won't bang on about the movement. There are enough information on the interwebs about it. Suffice to say that it is a tough and reliable workhorse and it is the movement upon which many complication modules are built. This movement is also one of the thinnest around at only 3.3mm high, contributing to a svelte watch with a total case height of 8.5mm, and a very versatile 39mm diameter.

The watch is elegant in its simplicity. Everything you need to tell the time and date and nothing else. No superfluous writing on the dial. No, not even "automatic". The see through case back shows the finely decorated movement. It's not to the level of say, a Patek movement, but you're also looking at a price point that is two-thirds lower. It is however, miles ahead of other similarly priced watches. The case quality is sublime, and the sunburst dial exudes an understated elegance. I probably wouldn't have bothered with the tiny lume dots at the hours and tiny lume inserts in the hands. It's a dressy watch. I can go without the lume. Dressy watch it may be, but it can be easily dressed down by fitting a brown strap or gasp.. a NATO strap.

This is also a watch with a strong history within JLC. It is on this range, the Master Control, that the 1000 hour test began back in 1992. The watches are subjected to a rigorous testing regime over, yep- you guessed it- 1000 hours, or equivalent to 6 weeks, fully cased up. They go through a variety of tests including timing, shock resistance, water resistance, etc, and only by passing all tests will the watch be allowed to leave the factory. This test is now performed on all JLC watches, excluding Atmos clocks and Calibre 101 watches.

So, a classic versatile watch that probably won't date and will only get better with age, a watch that played a part in the history of JLC at a relatively affordable price point, I guess a waiting list for is isn't all that difficult to fathom. Now I just need someone to spot me the odd 8 grand...


Zegarek said...

very nice watch!

Zegarek said...

Impressive watch. Very nice design! :)

Felix said...

It used to be that a young man's first watch was a simple steel watch with a date on a leather strap. Now he is more likely to start with a Rolex dive watch (irrespective of any interest in aquatic pursuits). This watch shows the error of that decision - it has the best hands and one of the nicest faces of any JLC watch. I have a couple of personal gripes. At 39mm it is a shade large - especially with that movement which means the date is too far from the edge of the dial; a downsize to 37 or 38mm would be beneficial. I also don't like the extent to which the lugs are integrated into the case - smaller and more distinct lugs would add to the charm of the watch.