Neuchâtel Observatory 1948: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tourbillon Chronometer No 464254

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The Neuchâtel Observatory is one of the most well-known observatories in Europe which tested watch movements for accuracy.

A independent instance to verify a manufactures movement quality in respect to accuracy. Tests was made for several days which during the movements were tested in different positions and temperatures.

The movements which passed the test received a “Bulletin de March”…

In the year of 1948, Jaeger-LeCoultre which didn’t submit their movements to the Observatory on regular basis joined the competition.

In the pocket and panel chronometer class, 17% of the Highest Accuracy Awards were won by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Geneva and LeCoultre & Cie, Le Sentier!

Jaeger-LeCoultre advertisement 1949 – Neuchâtel Observatory contest 1948

This ad I had in my possession for many years, I find it interesting as it reflects several aspects of Jaeger-LeCoultre!

You noticed the class which were chosen to compete in? The pocket and panel chronometer class. As I have written in several of my reports earlier – clocks and pocket watches has always been a big part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre heritage.

It would be another decade until Jaeger-LeCoultre made their first series manufactured wrist watch Chronometre for the European market – the E 168 Geophysic.

Another aspect is that Jaeger-LeCoultre, Geneva and LeCoultre & Cie, Le Sentier are T.W.O different firms or subsidiaries. This might explain why some documents say Geneva while others say Le Sentier

That Jaeger-LeCoultre didn’t and still doesn’t certify many of their watches to be become Chronometre is well-known. One of the reasons is in their heritage of innovation – will return to that in a separate report

Now, the LeCoultre Chronometre No. 464254 which was the only to obtain the award for the smallest mean daily variation in the pocket chronometre class that year – it stayed in Le Seniter!

Today, a part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Heritage Gallery:

LeCoultre Chronometre – No. 464254 from 1946

This pocket watch was made in 1946 and have a plain exterior with a touch of finesse – white enamel dial and heated blue hands. Look at that enormous sub-seconds dial, so clean, so elegant!

The case back, even more plain – no engravings, no decorations:

LeCoultre Chronometre – No. 464254 from 1946

This might not be very surprising since the Chronometre competitions test the movements without the case.

You know the saying – “true beauty comes from the inside“? In this case it is absolutely true!

Look at this movement, Calibre 170 – the large bridge which conceals all except the huge Tourbillon balance wheel!

“Jaeger LeCoultre Chronometre Tourbillon, Adjusted five positions. 21 Jewels, No. 464254, Switzerland.” Yes, this is the one mentioned in the advertisement!

Two details which stands out in the engraved text – Jaeger LeCoultre without the dash (-) and Switzerland. Normally, the dash would have been expected same as “Swiss” or “Swiss Made” instead of Switzerland…

Maybe Jaeger LeCoultre without the dash was a compromise as the movement was made by LeCoultre & Cie in Le Sentier..?

The decoration is really superb – the wide Geneva bars, the curve of the bridges, the bevels, the black polished screws, the big rubies…

Yes, compared to more baroque style decorations this might look a bit plain, but to me – this is absolutely stunning!

Craftsmanship to create accuracy is one thing, craftsmanship to decorate is another – when you combine them “Poetry in motion” occurs!

A BIG thank you to Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Heritage Gallery for letting me see this piece of Horology history up close!

Stay tuned for more pieces of art and history!