Best Swiss watches

New Watches: JLC Master Control is One For The Watchmakers

We have a soft spot for Jaeger le Coultre watches here at the Northern Watch Co. It started with a 1940s bumper automatic that was discovered lurking in an antique shop in Ireland a few years back. A thorough clean-up and that watch was a runner again – the mark of quality engineering we say. Innovations like the Reverso and Powermatic, with its handy reserve display once made JLC a premiership level watch brand.

Those days are gone to be blunt, but the Jaeger name still means build quality, in-house expertise and beautiful finishing. As an investment JLC might not have the appeal of a Rolex GMT or Royal Oak, but if you simply love watchmaking, then the range is always worth a look.

The Master Control Chronograph, which features a triple date calendar and moonphase dial display is one of those rare technical feats that not every watch collector will appreciate – unless they try to take one apart and re-assemble it again. Certainly beyond the skill of most of us. However, the resale value of a JLC like this – which costs a hefty £12,900 RRP – compared to say a Rolex Submariner Batman, is pretty appalling. You’re going to lose TAG F1 percentages basically – about 40% in year one, maybe another 15% over the next three years of ownership. That’s a big hit financially.

The other thing to consider from JLC’s marketing point of view is that again, we have a very simple, clean dial design. It is slightly underwhelming for the money and the fact is, some people who DO have 13K or more to spend on a wristwatch actually need poor people to gasp in awe at the huge chunk of bling on their wrists. I’m not one of those impressed by enormous cases and multi-featured bezels and buttons as found on some Breitlings. But you can’t argue with the sales stats – big flashy watches do sell.

Here’s the press info from Richemont below;

JLC master control chrono 12900
Chrono version retails at £12,900 and that is a big problem for many watch enthusiasts. You have to be dedicated to love the JLC brand.

Since it was introduced in 1992, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control collection has been defined by technical rigour and stylistic restraint. In 2020, La Grande Maison relaunches the collection, drawing inspiration from the classic round watches of the 1950s, such as the Futurematic, PowerMatic and Memovox models, and adding a dash of 21st-century flair. Rather than paying homage to a single historic reference, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents a range of timepieces featuring some of its most emblematic complications.

jaeger le coultre master control side view

When launched in 1992, the Master Control line was the first of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collections to benefit from its pioneering ‘1000 Hours Control’ certification – which inspired the collection’s name.

A demanding process that tests the entire cased-up watch (not just its movement), it set a new benchmark when introduced and has continually evolved in response to technological advances, to remain one of the watch industry’s most stringent testing protocols. Naturally, with this background, the Manufacture’s engineers have comprehensively revised and updated all of the movements, increasing power reserves to as much as 70 hours and enhancing overall performance and reliability. Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, the Master Control watches carry an 8-year warranty in addition to the 1,000 Hours Control certification.

 

jaeger reverso blue
The Reverso is arguably just as influential design as the Cartier Tank, but few mainstream watch consumers seem aware of it.

 

In the 1940s and ’50s Jaeger-LeCoultre was renowned for its triple calendar moon-phase movements, and the new Master Control Calendar brings that tradition into the 21st century. With a case measuring 40mm x 10.95mm, it is offered in either steel or Le Grand Rose gold®.

 

The finely balanced classical layout of the dial is retained, with the dates marked around the periphery, indicated by a red-tipped hand, the days and months displayed in the upper part of the dial, and the moon-phase set within the small seconds subdial in the lower part.

But there is a fresh new twist to the date display: as well as updating Calibre 866 with the same performance-enhancing improvements made to cal.899, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engineers have added a delightful new jumping complication. Every month, the date hand makes a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th, in order not to obscure the moon-phase display.

Alternative triple date chronographs? If you’re on a budget then a nice example of the Omega Moonwatch from the 1990s could be a wise investment at about £1800-£2200. How about something truly rare? An Angelus triple date chronograph from the 1950s might cost you about 3K for a really nice example. It’s more delicate than an Omega Speedmaster perhaps, but arguably forms part of the inspiration for the modern JLC Master Control Chronograph.

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