Back in the 1990’s when I started to look into watches more seriously, one phrase that was always said as soon as someone mentioned Jaeger-LeCoultre was “the watchmakers watchmaker“.
That phrase was one of the reasons why I took a closer look at the manufacture in the first place…
I thought I would start with Jaeger-LeCoultre and once done, look into other brands… I am still not done with Jaeger-LeCoultre so… Others will have to wait…
Today “the watchmakers watchmaker” is not mentioned very often. Guess an effect of the all in-house trend – no one want to admit using other brands parts or movements… Another aspect is that Jaeger-LeCoultre is pushing their own watches much more today.
Back in the 1930’s it was a different story… Back then you wanted to ensure your customers that your watches had the best quality movements!
Like here in this Asprey catalogue from the second half of the 1930’s: “These watches are fitted with LeCoultre movements, renowned for high precision“.
The interesting thing here is that all these models also existed as LeCoultre watches. To me it looks more like Asprey only put their logo on the dial.
The most interesting watch in this scan I think is the asymmetric one: “Exclusive model wristwatch. 18ct. Gold £55“.
Not sure what the “exclusive model” refers to, but for sure not “exclusive” for Asprey.
The LeCoultre version of this asymmetric model can be seen in one of the postcards that Jaeger-LeCoultre handed out in 1936. Please note that these postcards were used for the European market, not the U.S. market as is the norm for LeCoultre after the name change in 1937.
The lugs differs, four per side on the Asprey and more traditional T.W.O on the LeCoultre. But that the base is the same I think is without a doubt, even the dials have the same design.
Asprey clearly stated that they use LeCoultre movements, others are not as forthcoming on this, but I suspect that this next watch also had a LeCoultre movement inside!
The Cartier Asymétrique – below pictures are credit: @patsutithon and matthewbaininc.com.
If you look at the LeCoultre version, you can see that they are identical except for the name on the dial.
On matthewbaininc.com it is also stated that the movement is marked “European Watch Company”, which also is the marking of some other Cartier watches using LeCoultre movements.
If we now go back to the Asprey version and compare it with another example of the Cartier Asymétrique – picture credit: townandcountrymag.com.
While the Asprey version have four lugs per side, this Cartier version only have three, but hands and dial are very similar.
According to @thecartierarchives, the Cartier Asymétrique was released in 1936 in which aligns with the LeCoultre version.
Back in 1996, Cartier made an re-edition of the Asymétrique, 100 pieces in platinum and 300 pieces in yellow gold.
I would love to see a modern Jaeger-LeCoultre version…
Similar size, manual wound, only precious metals…
Enamel dial or Guilloche dial – or both at the same time…
Preferably only two lugs per side…
Jaeger-LeCoultre, if you read me – please sign me up for one!
Yes, there was a time when Jaeger-LeCoultre was “the watchmakers watchmaker“… I still suspect in some cases they still are, even if it is not as clearly stated as it used to be…
Stay tuned for more Jaeger-LeCoultre history!