Quick Take

The ability to create watches mostly independent of movement and component suppliers has become increasingly widespread in Switzerland in recent years. But for a long, long time, there were just a handful of watchmakers that did this. This was certainly the case when I first started out covering watches back in the mid aughts. *Jaeger-LeCoultre, with its sprawling manufacture in Le Sentier, under whose roof virtually every métier associated with fine Swiss watchmaking is practiced, must have been nicknamed the Grande Maison for good reason, I remember thinking back then.
For sheer breadth and scope of in-house watchmaking capabilities, there may not be another marque that can rival what JLC does in house. The watches that we are introducing today are fine examples of this. They come in two equally numbered limited editions of 30, they feature not one but two high complications, and one version offers a distinctive blue guilloché enamel dial that is, just like the movement beneath it, made in house.
The Master Grande Tradition Repetition Minutes Perpetuelle comes with a brand-new movement, the caliber 950, which in addition to providing a perpetual calendar, has been engineered to optimize the acoustical qualities of its minute repeater. The flat, overlapping coils that characterize most minute repeaters have been dispensed with in favor of a gong architecture that takes full advantage of the three-dimensional space afforded by the movement and the case. Each gong wraps around the lower edge of the movement before traveling up the height of the movement, splitting off from the other gong, and then half-encircling the opposite side of the movement. The lower pitched gong follows a single, helical path, while the higher-pitched one doubles back on itself like a tuning fork's tines. This helps to impart clarity to its treble notes. Jaeger-LeCoultre says that the longer gongs used in caliber 950 also enable longer and richer tones.
Initial Thoughts

The essential difference between these two limited editions is their dials. The silver-grained version (above) has a slightly more restrained look to it. The blue dial of the other version is crafted in-house at JLC's Atelier des Métiers Rares from a gold disk, its sunray and clous de Paris patterns applied by hand with a rose engine. Several layers of blue enamel are then be applied before the indexes, hands, and logo are applied to the dial. The process of making each guilloché enamel dial takes 2 to 3 days. The blue enamel dial is in the style of three other Jaeger-LeCoultre Master collection watches that were presented at SIHH earlier this year, which highlighted the manufacture's use of in-house guilloché and enamel work. This style of enamel was also seen on the highly complicated Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel.*
While by no means a small watch, the Master Grande Tradition Re?pe?tition Minutes Perpe?tuelle does manage to fit a lot into a relatively compact package, at least by the standard set by other chiming watches today. When you consider that this is a perpetual calendar with a minute repeater that has been designed to provide greater volume and tonal quality than other minute repeaters, its 13.72mm thickness doesn't seem half bad at all.*Of course, in order to truly evaluate a minute repeater, or any chiming watch for that matter, you have to hear it. I hope to have a chance to do so with one (or both) of these new limited editions some time soon.
The Basics

*Brand: Jaeger-LeCoultre
Model: Master Grande Tradition Re?pe?tition Minutes Perpe?tuelle
Reference Number: Q52334E1 (Limited to 30 pieces), Q5233420 (Limited to 30 pieces)
*Diameter: 43mm
Thickness: 13.72mm
Case Material: White gold
Dial Color: Blue guilloche? enamel / Silver grained
Indexes: Applied
Water Resistance: 5 bar
Strap/Bracelet: Alligator strap
The Movement

Caliber: JLC Caliber 950
Functions: Hours, minutes, minute repeater, perpetual calendar (day, date, month, moonphase, year)
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Diameter: 30mm
Thickness: 8.48 mm
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800
Pricing & Availability

*Price: Ref. Q5233420 (silver grain dial): 225,000 euros excluding VAT; ref. Q5233E1 (blue guilloché enamel dial): 250,000 euros excluding VAT
Limited Edition: 30 pieces of each version
For more click here.