Next up on the Wooden Beam 2020 is a pair of watches which are similar but not same – the Jaeger-LeCoultre E 373 Powerwind and E 501 Futurematic.
Both are bumper automatic movement watches with a power reserve indicator – but with very different display and execution.
The E 501 Futurematic, to the left and the E 373 Powerwind to the right in the photo below – one should know that both the Futurematic and the Powerwind are a family name and not a specific reference name.
Under both names there are many different references hidden. I am guessing the E 501 and the E 373 are the most well-known references of each family due to their classic lines and larger size – both are 37 mm in diameter which is the largest size within each family.
Released in 1949, the E 373 Powerwind were the first wristwatch with a power reserve indicator or like it was called at introduction – “Up and Down Indicator” or “Power Reserve Gauge”.
Not only was there several different names for this new invention (you can read more about it here: Jaeger-LeCoultre Patent No 280369: Up and Down Indicator
This model had several family names – In the beginning here in Europe, this model did not have a special name – simply referred to as “self-winding” or “automatic” watches with power reserve indicator, but soon the names “Powerwind” or “Powermatic” were adopted.
In the U.S. market colourful names were used in a much larger extent than in the rest of the world – in the U.S. market there even were a number of different Powermatic references called “Nautilus”. Yes, this was long before the name was borrowed by another company to be used on one of their watch models… Will make a separate report on the subject one day.
Only T.W.O years later, in 1951, the Futurematic were introduced in the U.S. market – the Futurematic was not released in Europe until 1953.
Two years between the first and the second watch with a power reserve indicator may sound like a long time, but one should consider that Jaeger-LeCoultre did a lot of innovation and development – not only power reserve indicator watches –
1948: The Caliber 488/Sbr is used in the legendary E 161 a.k.a. Mark 11 issued to the British RAF pilots, later to be refined into the Calibre P478/BWSBr used in another legendary watch, the E 168 Geophysic.
1949: The Calibre 481, the very first automatic wristwatch movement with power reserve.
1950: The Calibre P489, the first Memovox Alarm movement.
1951: The Calibre 497, the first Futurematic movement.
These are only few example of achievements from Le Grande Maison during this short time frame!
The first Futurematic only had “AUTOMATIC” written on the dial, but the name was already in use in 1951 – printed in the service manual – some of the later versions also had the Futurematic name on the dial:
Already the same year the Futurematic was offered as dual-signed LeCoultre and Cartier:
Up front, the first difference between them being the way the power reserve indicator is utilised – one with a sub-dial and one with a window. Both with a maximum of 40 hours on the indicator.
Secondly, the seconds are also located differently – sub-seconds for the Futurematic and central seconds for the Powerwind.
Third being the lack of winding crown on the Futurematic.
Instead of the traditional winding crown at three o’clock, the Futurematic have a setting crown on the back.
This third difference indicates how big difference it really is between these watches – the movements!
Yes, both are bumper automatic movements with power reserve indicator – but while the Calibre 481 is a development from the Calibre 476, a “classic” bumper movement, the Calibre 497 is something entirely new!
I already touched this in a previous reports: Jaeger-LeCoultre Patent No 280369: Up and Down Indicator and Jaeger-LeCoultre Automatic SR-497: E 501 Futurematic.
On the wrist there is an resembling feeling between them – the subtle “bump” when moving your wrist, the same size and similar thickness,…
But once you look down on your wrist, they look very different – so many interesting details to discover and enjoy!
Yes, these were the start of a long row of watches with the power reserve indicator from Jaeger-LeCoultre!
One watch in the current collection who originates from these watches is the Master Ultra Thin Réserve De Marche – reference 1378420 – notable is that the lines of case are still very similar and the size is only 2 mm larger!
The Jaeger-LeCoultre E 501 Futurematic and the E 373 Powerwind – similar but not same!
Stay tuned for more Wooden Beam 2020 reports!