To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Master Control collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre has released three special edition watches. The three pieces – a Master Control Date, Chronograph, and Geographic – are based on core pieces in the collection, but each has been given a vintage-inspired treatment with a sleek two-tone sector dial with light blue accents.
At SIHH, a lot gets made of the crazy watch. I’m talking about the $93,900 ceramic perpetual calendars and the $1 million grand complications. But it’s important to remember that these watches don’t even come close to making up the majority of watches purchased each year. It’s the less headline-grabbing pieces that end up on more wrists, and so it’s always extra exciting to find something genuinely incredible that doesn’t come with a five or six-figure price tag.
The Master Control Date
The first watch is the Master Control Date, which is the simplest of the three watches. The watch has a 39mm stainless steel case that’s very slim at just 8.5mm. That number sounds slim, sure, but in person it almost feels like an ultra-thin. The technical details of the watch are simple enough and inside is a JLC caliber 899/1, which is a 219 component automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve and a solid gold winding rotor.
What really makes this watch special though is the dial. The two-tone sector dial has a brushed silver outer track and a grained interior, separated by a dark sector. note that at 3, 6, 9, and 12, the small sector sections go in, not out, so as to not interrupt the numerals and date window (which shows the date in blue). The hands are open (ie, not filled with lume) and the whole thing really looks like something you’d find on a 1940s watch, with none of the just-off kitsch.
The Master Control Date retails for $5,700.
The Master Control Chronograph
Next up we have the Master Chronograph. While the time-and-date model is my personal favorite, I think this is likely to be the big hit of the collection. The steel case is just a tiny bit larger at 40mm and it wears extremely well – in fact, the first time I tried the watch on, I thought it was still a 39mm watch on my wrist. At 12.1mm thick, it’s not quite as svelte as the Master Control Date, but it’s still rather thin and sleek.
Obviously there’s a little more going on with the dial here, and it really shows off those light blue accents to great effect. I don’t know what it is, but that shade of blue seems to really work with silver/white sector dials. It’s just enough color to be interesting, but not so much as to overpower the design. The watch is powered by caliber 751G, an automatic chronograph that can count up to 12 hours and has a 65-hour power reserve. This is the only watch of the collection without a sapphire caseback.
The Master Control Chronograph retails for $8,000.
The Master Control Geographic
Finally we have the Master Control Geographic. Sector dial time-only watches and chronographs are common vintage occurrences and have been reinterpreted before many times, but this is something totally new. The caliber 939B/1 allows the watch to show a second timezone down at six o’clock and there is a city disk (almost like what you’d find on a worldtimer) that is revealed via a cut-out in the dial from 4:30 to 7:30 to let you quickly adjust that second timezone to your new location.
In terms of overall elegance, I think this watch is probably the least successful of the three. There is a lot going on down at the bottom of the dial and the case is 39mm across and 11.8mm thick, giving it the chunkiest profile as well. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like this watch overall and think it’s an interesting way to blend a useful complication with an old-school design, it’s just not quite as outstanding as the other two.
The Master Control Geographic retails for $9,400.
These are, without question, three of my favorite watches of SIHH 2017 so far. They’re fun, wearable, reference the past without being straight vintage re-issues, and, importantly, are well-priced. They are not strictly limited editions, but Jaeger-LeCoultre will only make them for the next year, so production will naturally be limited.
We’ll have a full in-depth look at these watches for you soon, but just had to share the highlights with you now.
For more, visit Jaeger-LeCoultre online.