When Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Calibre 822 in 1992, a new foundation was made. A movement which is still the base for many rectangular Jaeger-LeCoultre watches today!
Currently there is only one rectangular model offered by the brand – the Reverso. Luckily there are many different versions of the Reverso to chose from…
Back in 1940’s and 1950’s there were a lot more rectangular models, one being the LeCoultre reference 8661.
I do not know the exact year of the 8661, but would estimate it to be from late 1940’s – early 1950’s.
Rectangular case, manual movement, time only… No, it’s not a Reverso, but it shares the same movement as the Reverso from that time period – the 11” LO.
During this period, the Calibre 438 was the base movement for rectangular men’s watches.
This watch have the iteration 438/4CW, notice the “VXN” import code which indicated this movement has been exported from Switzerland to the U.S.
Which matches the “LeCoultre” on the dial and the U.S. case made by “L&K” – the Lutringer & Kammerer Case Company.
As said, during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Jaeger-LeCoultre had many different rectangular models – many similar to the 8661, just variations of lugs, bezel, crystal… And of course hands and dials.
Here a few examples of similar Jaeger-LeCoultre references – the 8661 lugs looks like a mix of the 416 and the 386.
The rectangular 11” LO movement referred to in the document is the Calibre 438.
Many with similar style but more square existed as well…
My 8661 is featured with Breguet numerals all around which is not very commonly seen on Jaeger-LeCoultre or LeCoultre watches. More common are index combined with 12/6, 12/3/6/9 or like in the scans – 12/3/9.
The dimensions of the 8661 – 24 x 27,5 mm, 36 mm lug to lug and 16 mm between the lugs.
The 8661 follows the fashion trends of the time, similar watches from other brands existed as well – one still in production is the Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945, today’s versions are adjusted to current fashion, but the original was quite similar to the 8661…
The lugs of the 8661 are wider at the ends, pointing downwards – here, a profile shot with the side view of the lugs. Notice the curved crystal and case sides.
One fact that makes all these versions very interesting to me – it really shows how small of a change it takes to make a different watch!
If you go back and look at the T.W.O scans again – in each scan the base is the same, still all of them are distinctively different from the others!
Remembered by the larger public are those that stands out from the crowd – like the Reverso, but one should remember that the Reverso was just one of many rectangular watches from that time period.
On the wrist, the 8661 is both elegant and comfortable! The curved case sides and the lugs really makes the watch wear larger that its measurements.
It’s easy to just focus on the big icons of a brand, which results in you losing the understanding of how or why… What made certain watches become icons…
Stay tuned for more lesser known references of Jaeger-LeCoultre and LeCoultre!