2014 has brought a lot of impressive new Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, and this new version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel ref. 5042420 is one of them. Having said that, because it is not technically a brand new watch, but rather, a slightly new version of a timepiece that is still just a few years old, Jaeger-LeCoultre released it in an almost under-the-radar manner. Nevertheless, despite the comically long and rather non-distinctive name, this is one of the top new Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces this year.
One of the reasons that you will not hear as much about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel as the piece might deserve is because 2014 also saw the release of the amazing (and still not yet quite finished) Hybris Mechanica 11 watch that has enough world’s firsts and merits to make you want to mortgage your home for the $400,000 plus watch. The timepieces are each completely distinct, but what connects them is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s sense of mechanical aptitude and design refinement. Each is a wildly complicated mechanism almost suitable for daily wear.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel is comprised of the in-house Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 985 automatic movement which is as modern as it is technically esteemed. First of all, for a highly complication tourbillon perpetual calendar movement it operates at a modern 4Hz (most tourbillons run at 3Hz) and is also an automatic. The tourbillon is also special because if you read the name of the watch carefully you’ll realize that it has a special hairspring. Rather than being a flat spiral, it is a cylinder. I believe that this is a feature that Jaeger-LeCoultre debuted with the Gyrotourbillon II. The later Gryotourbillon III (also not quite ready for action yet) continues to offer more novelty by having a spherical versus cylindrical balance wheel.
Why shape a balance wheel like a cylinder, versus making it flat? It is about accuracy, as I believe these more space-consuming balance wheels are more accurate–at least, that is their historical use. Inside the watch, seeing the cylindrical balance wheel beat inside the deep tourbillon cavity is impressive and beautiful. Every lover of mechanical watches should experience seeing something like this at least once.
That the caliber 985 is an automatic is even more impressive. I love high-complication automatic watches and having the convenience of self-winding is in my opinion always worth having a rotor that partially blocks the movement. For this watch, the solid gold rotor happens to be an aesthetic item unto itself. Engraved into the 22k pink gold rotor is a motif of the medal Jaeger-LeCoultre received at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. This was the world’s fair and that year it was held in Paris. It is one of a few world’s fair events that Jaeger-LeCoultre as a brand receiving some distinction.
The 985 has a full perpetual calendar complication that is displayed beautifully. It also happens to include a highly accurate moon phase indicator, as well a “security window” that tells you when it is unsafe to adjust the calendar settings. This is a small window right above the hands that turns red during certain hours of the night to warn that setting the calendar items could damage the movement. Dials are used to indicate the date, month, and date of the week, while there is a full four digit date indicator window (which is also used for the movement to know when there is a leap year. The entire arrangement of subdials and information is wonderfully symmetrical as a testament to the brand’s ability to consistently design highly refined yet complication dials.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel watch was debuted as a solid platinum limited edition “Jubilee” version as the ref. 5046520. This is followed up with this 18 pink gold version that in my opinion edges out the platinum version with regard to handsome looks. I just feel that the warmth of the gold benefits the overall look just a bit better. The best part of the dial is probably the finishes and the hands. The beautiful dauphine hands are properly sized and highly legible. The textured opaline face of the watch further creates an ideal situation for color contrast and low light reflectivity. It makes the watch look high-end while really emphasizing dial legibility. The lower part of the dial is slightly recessed after a step because of the depth of the tourbillon. It helps give the wearer more of a view into the tourbillon, and prevents it from looking like it is buried in the dial–a clever design tactic for sure.
At 42mm wide, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel wears nicely on the wrist and is a great size. At 13.1mm thick, it is more the size of a sport watch versus a dress watch, but it isn’t at all unweildly. Of course what you get is not only a high-complication watch that is water resistant to 50 meters, but also an amazingly designed mechanical movement that has 431 parts. That is more than double most mechanical movements. Power reserve is a standard 48 hours.
Wonderfully proportioned and fanatically well-detailed, the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel is a real watch-lover’s watch, with a solid value proposition and character that I cannot begin to imagine would espouse any controversy. If you are in the market for a high-complication watch from a solid brand that you actually want to wear, then the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique a Quantieme Perpetuel is certainly something for your short list.
Price for this Jaeger-LeCoultre ref. 5042520 is $143,000. jaeger-lecoultre.com