Jaeger LeCoultre’s 21st Century Automaton

Let’s not hold back, Jaeger LeCoultre has pulled off a bit of technical tour-de-force with this new four fasces – yep  count `em – masterpiece of timekeeping. The Reverso is of course a legendary watch for the JLC brand, but they’ve definitely raised their game with this new model. You like complications right? Well this one has 11 complications, including a tiny pair of hammer repeaters, just for that authentic mantelpiece clock effect. There is a tourbillon too, naturally.

Inside the watch there are two faces showing the transit of the moon in Northern and Southern hemispheres, how close or distant it is from the earth and all that detailed astro tracking that stargazers love. It is a real showcase of watchmaking art and it should be for a cool 1.35m euros. Only 10 examples are being produced.

See the video below for more details on the story of this creation by Jaeger LeCoultre;

 

There is a great deal of inspiration from timepieces like the astrological clock in Prague at play here too, or perhaps the fabled automatons popular with European aristocrats back in the 18th century. The age of enlightment was a time when machines seem to offer mankind a chance to build new worlds, as well as observe and understand our planetery system in a new way, unfettered by religion. There is something of that radicalism in JLC’s new Reverso masterpiece, as it marries the balletic science of an orrery with a slimline, art-deco case that reminds me of a psalter. That was a medieval, decorated prayer book full of psalms by the way, a symbol of wealth and power in a less enlightened era.

There is a fascination with intricate, miniature engineering for its own sake writ large across this watch, despite its tiny proportions. What JLC are doing is gift-wrapping centuries of watchmaking craft into one handy portrait, a Mona Lisa that moves – and chimes. Clever stuff.

JLC has really created something wonderful for its own sake with the 4-faced Reverso Hybris Mecanica. At this price level it is the preserve of millionaires and princes yes, but just as Ferrari or Bugatti push the envelope in terms of engineering, watch brands sometimes need to produce a world first to excite the market, to make enthusiasts catch their breath now and then. If the new watch market consists of an endless remix of the technology of the past, then watch manufacturing begins to die, and consumers will drift away from mechanical watches in boredom.

So hats off to JLC. You just launched the F40, the Hawker Harrier, the Fender Strat or the Saturn V rocket. It really is unique and it kind of makes the Rolex Datejust with its palm tree green dial look a bit….well, let’s be blunt, like a lazy marketing ploy.

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