Can JLC Ever Rival the Big Swiss Cheeses?

You know Jaeger le Coultre is a bit like Jeff Bridges; been in a few hit movies a long time ago, did the Dude cult character thing very well, but ultimately never got mega big like Clint Eastwood, Sly Stallone or Tom Cruise.

JLC struggles to be really big time and in all honesty I can see a mass extinction of Swiss brands approaching. The market is now heavily concentrated in terms of revenue heading into Rolex, Richemont, LVMH and Swatch, the rest are becoming a second or third tier. JLC could be one of the victims of a hedge fund asteroid that simply rolls up several Swiss brands into one VW-Audi type group that shares parts, marketing and distribution channels.


So let’s talk watches. JLC has refreshed its Master Control model, with a chronograph sub-dial & moonphase version, and a more classic looking triple date calendar and moonphase dial layout.

Both are 40mm case models, with an in-house movement and respectable reserve times of over 70 hours. For me, the numbers on the dial – and the hands – are too designer kitchen clock. They blend and fade into the background a little, which defeats the purpose of the watch for me. It should be easy to check the time, even in low daylight conditions, surely? Just a dash of blue on the hands would make all the difference.

The detailing is beautiful on the movement and there’s a see-thru caseback so you can appreciate the workmanship. Bracelet or leather strap options, prices start around £15000. Over 18 grand for the chronograph.

But let me make a couple of points: Water resistance of 5 bar. Yes, that’s 50 metres, the same as a £5 Sekonda. Is that good enough?

Next we have resale value and this is where it gets sticky; people will pay a 5K premium for that Rolex Sub you managed to finangle from your AD. They will haggle you down by 5K for the JLC Master Control.

Why? It lacks visual punch. Too restrained, old fashioned, a bit Swiss Tony really. Plus everyone knows that JLC hasn’t got that huge waiting list like some AP, Rolex, Patek or even Hublot models. Hell, even Swatch can starve the market of plastic Moonswatches and you NEVER hear of any such flipping, airport style queues or online demand for JLC watches.

This is a brand with an unreal heritage, true excellence in regard to manufacture and yet – like Jeff Bridges, they keep blowing it with a `Phew, rock n roll!’ moments that are just, well…slightly cringe.

If you are a JLC fan then there’s more info here.

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