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NEW RELEASE: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Collection: A Breath of Fresh Air

NEW RELEASE: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Collection: A Breath of Fresh Air

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control 2020 HERO

Reviving a classic and the iconic benchmark for a dress watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control has been updated with four new variants including a stunning chronograph calendar and a set of heavily updated and improved references of the original 1992 watches. Has Jaeger-LeCoultre just made the perfect family of dress watches?


With the possible exception of the Reverso, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control could perhaps be regarded as the ultimate classic from ‘the watchmaker’s watchmaker’. Having established a truly rigorous 1000-hour testing benchmark for the Swiss watch industry, the Master Control celebrated its birthday a few years ago with the stunning ‘sector dial’ variant. Since then, though, nothing has replaced this beloved design — until not, that is.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control 2020

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control is no revolution but rather a remastered version of an already fantastic format created in 1992. On offer are four new models in with a date, calendar, geographic complication and chronograph calendar but, before looking at each model, let’s see what’s new in this collection.

What’s New?

First of all, we have to consider that these are not revolutionary watches but incremental improvements to a proven concept and a charming one at that. To add to this, in the spirit of whimsy which dwells within the watch world, this new collection draws heavily from the design of the original watches released when the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control was launched in 1992.

Where aesthetics are concerned, these watches mark the introduction of a proprietary colour of rose gold to the Jaeger-LeCoultre line: Le Grand Rose Gold. Whilst this will not be available on the base Master Control Date (available only in steel) the other three variants will offer this more luxurious option. JLC have also pointed out that, due to the Palladium content of this alloy, their gold will not suffer a change in tone endemic to rose gold.

Technologically, these watches all incorporate an innovation which, until now, has not been available in standard-production Jaeger-LeCoultre models: the silicon escapement. This has been added to both the venerable movements already used by Jaeger-LeCoultre as well that of the new Master Control Chronograph Calendar. Aside from the well-documented benefits of the amagnetism of such a material, the result is also lower friction at the heart of the movement. Consequently, in conjunction with a revised mainspring, the power reserve has been increased from 43 hours to 70. In this way, JLC has worked to keep with modern expectations of a movement.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

2020 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

Where the Master Control is concerned, the true classic is and has always been the Date. As with the other variants in this collection, the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date features a delightfully understated polished 40mm case with brushed flanks.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

As with previous iteration, the case remains slender at 8.78mm in thickness to fulfil the role of the perfect dress watch. This discreet demeanour is also clear in the dial design which is domed with a subtly textured sunburst silver dial with a domed form. Interestingly, this piece is even more understated than the 1992 watch which inspired it courtesy of a particularly small applied logo.

Mechanically, this watch uses the very well-known in-house calibre 899AC — a movement now fitted with the aforementioned refinements for a longer power reserve. This is also an important movement historically since, within the bearing of its automatic winding rotor you will find the ceramic ball bearings which were revolutionary when first introduced. Their function, to mitigate friction and wear, remains useful in the long term.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar

Adding complication, the Master Control Calendar may just be the most interesting model in the range where stealth-complication is concerned. Whilst the format remains similar (though now 10.95mm thick), this variant adds beautiful bells and whistles which exist purely for the pleasure of the user.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar

Where the Date may, to some, be simple to a fault, the Calendar provides not only an old-school triple date but a stunningly executed moonphase too. This is presented in the form of a starry ring at 6 o’clock in rich cobalt blue with a silver moon and stars. Above this, the thermally blued second hand uses the moonphase as a sub-dial with real elegance.

Most exciting, though, is the pointer-date hand which not only takes the form of an elegant JLC logo at its point but also houses an interesting new complication. In order to avoid obscuring the seconds and moonphase, this hand jumps from ’15’ to ’16’ across roughly 60° courtesy of the cal. 866AA within. Whilst functionally useless, this is a delightful way to add something to an already well-known complication.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Geographic

A quirky and longstanding addition to the Master Control collection is the Geographic which is powered by the JLC calibre 939. This movement gives a power reserve indicator, small pointer-date and second time zone controlled via the city disc visible at 6 o’clock.

Aside from these complications for a lover of dress watches who needs a travelling companion, the Geographic offers a more modern dial. In place of the subtly grained dials available throughout the rest of the range, the dial of the Geographic features a crisp, aggressive sunburst pattern. It is also furnished with a chapter ring raised over the dial.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar 2020

As the true pièce de résistance of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection, JLC present the Chronograph Calendar — perhaps the perfect blend of complication and classic charm.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

Based upon the existing calibre 751, the calibre 759 at the heart of this watch is an automatic chronograph with the calendar, moonphase and a 30-minute chronograph. The execution of the dial to display such complications is striking. The date windows, for example, have been brought together and a vintage feel has been introduced in the concentric pattern decorating the sub-dials.

This channelling of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history is particularly evident in the pulsometer around the rim of the dial: a rare complication by today’s standards. Topping off this design is the addition of red touches which come together to form a unified design.

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The Collection Overview

As an integral part of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s range, producing an effective Master Control Collection was paramount. Brought in a more traditional direction than the ever-popular sector-dial collection released in 2017 to mark the Master Control’s 15th anniversary. In many ways, this collection is an answer to all problems.

It returns the Master Control to its former design whilst also introducing some of the geometry and colour which made the aforementioned collection so special. Furthermore, you really cannot deny that its a comprehensive technical advance on the previous watches offered. My only qualm is the lack of a simple chronograph option which has been popular in the past. However, it remains to be seen whether JLC have more variants to unveil in coming months. For this collection alone, though, Jaeger-LeCoultre can certainly pat themselves on the back.


Availability: Date: CHF 6,750 / Calendar: CHF 11,100+ / Geographic: CHF 12,200+ / Chronograph Calendar: CHF 14,500+


Specifications

Master Control Date

  • Dimensions: 40mm x 8.78mm
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • Display: Matte sunburst silver dial / Polished applied indices & numerals / Bevelled & polished dauphine hands / Thermally blued second hand / Date window at 3 o’clock / Luminous plots on hands and indices
  • Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft / 5 ATM
  • Movement: in-house JLC cal. 899AC: Automatic & manual winding / Time & date / Silicon escapement / 70-hour power reserve / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second

Master Control Calendar

  • Dimensions: 40mm x 10.95mm
  • Material: Stainless Steel / Le Grand Rose Gold
  • Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • Display: Matte sunburst silver dial / Polished applied indices & numerals / Bevelled & polished dauphine hands / Thermally blued second hand / Day & month windows in dial centre / Pointer date around dial rim / Small seconds / Blue and silver moonphase / Luminous plots on hands and indices
  • Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft / 5 ATM
  • Movement: in-house JLC cal. 866AA: Automatic & manual winding / Time, day, date, month & moonphase / Pointer-date jumping feature / Silicon escapement / 70-hour power reserve / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second

Master Control Geographic

  • Dimensions: 40mm x 10.96
  • Material: Stainless Steel / Le Grand Rose Gold
  • Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • Display: Sunburst silver dial / Raised chapter ring / Polished applied indices & numerals / Bevelled & polished dauphine hands / Thermally blued second, power reserve and second time zone hands / World-time disc at 6 o’clock / Power reserve indicator at 10 o’clock / Pointer-date at 2 o’clock
  • Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft / 5 ATM
  • Movement: in-house JLC cal. 939: Automatic & manual winding / Time, date, world-time, day & night & power reserve indicator / Silicon escapement / 70-hour power reserve / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second

Master Control Chronograph Calendar

  • Dimensions: 40mm x 12.05
  • Material: Stainless Steel / Le Grand Rose Gold
  • Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • Display: Matte sunburst silver dial / Polished applied indices & numerals / Bevelled & polished dauphine hands / Thermally blued second hand / Day & month windows in dial centre / Pointer date and moonphase at 6 o’clock / Pulsometer around dial rim
  • Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft / 5 ATM
  • Movement: in-house JLC cal. 759: Automatic & manual winding / Time, day, date, month, chronograph & moonphase / Silicon escapement / 70-hour power reserve / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second

Head over to the our dedicated Watches & Wonders 2020 section for more or take a look at the JLC website

View Comment (1)
  • The basic Date version is a bit too understated to my liking. If not for the hour markers I would say it’s almost a Grand Seiko. Not that there’s anything wrong with GS, but personally I prefer the more eloquent design of the previous version of the Master Control, which is actually still on my list of “grail watches”.

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