At my latest visit at the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture I had the pleasure to see a late eighteenth century Grand Complication pocket watch!
A savonnette pocket watch in 18 carat gold with Minute Repeater, Chronograph, Complete calendar with moon phases and Grand feu enamel dial!
This got me thinking of one of the catch phrases I have seen in Jaeger-LeCoultre documents – “The most complicated watch in the world”…
Here is a photo of the savonette I saw – the beauty of these old pocket watches are second to none! The work and craftsmanship put into one of these pieces are incredible to admire.
This piece were made between 1895 and 1901.
At 12 you have the month, at 9 the day, at 3 the date and at 6 the running seconds and the Moon Phase – in the centre the chronograph seconds hand.
The single pusher chronograph is operated by the pusher at 12 and the Minute Repeater is operated by the lever at 6…
The Grand feu enamel dial is pure as ice, the central seconds hand thin as a human hair…
What to say more that it’s a dream! A dream proving the long tradition at the manufacture in Le Sentier!
Now some of you may think that – “yes, but that was a long time ago and that Jaeger-LeCoultre only started to make these kind of Grand Complicated watches again recently“…
Yes and no – Yes, the main focus during the 20th century have been on much “simpler” watches. But no, the knowledge and tradition have been kept alive!
During the 1940’s and 1950’s Jaeger-LeCoultre had one even more complicated watch in their catalogue – a pocket watch: “the most complicated watch in the world“!
Here are three different news paper ads showing the same pocket watch (I have even more examples).
If you add the information from each ad you get the following information: Minute Repeater, Perpetual Calendar, Moon Phase, Split Second Chronograph, 400 parts!
I guess it wasn’t on high demand as the price goes down. Remember that this is during the period wrist watches are becoming the preferred choice for a man.
With low demand, the production number can not have been very high – but as the manufacture offered this, the ability to create must have been kept alive!
Some pieces of this pocket watch model must have been sold, because in 1963 the price is more than double, also the one shown in this ad is with a different dial which indicates there at least T.W.O versions of this master piece!
I even found this pocket watch in the 1969 sales catalogue – with a third dial version.
So yes, the knowledge and tradition have been kept alive during the 20th century!
And when you see this photo you understand from where the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel have its roots!
A BIG thank you to Jaeger-LeCoultre for keeping the tradition alive all these years and a BIG thank you to the Heritage Gallery for letting me see these treasures up close!
Stay tuned for more treasures…