Dual-signed watches has always been of interest for watch collectors. Often it adds a bit of spice to the history of the watch.
Unfortunately, the development during the last decade is that it also adds a premium to the price tag… But there are still possibilities to find dual-signed pieces which are not hyped.
Like the LeCoultre reference 444 Uniplan!
Most collectors do not know the reference 444 which might not be very surprising. As a male watch collector I guess you need to be rather deep into Jaeger-LeCoultre to know about it…
The Uniplan reference 444 is one of many Uniplan models from the 1930’s.
An Art Deco inspired model which were in production in parallel with the more famous Reverso. Here featured in an French advertisement on the 30th of November 1935:
Zooming in we see similar a dial as of Reverso and Duoplan from the same time period with similar broad hands. Rectangular case with T.W.O lugs at the top/bottom and a rather wide bezel.
The case has clean squarish lines, yet a feminine and delicate appearance.
The piece I found happens to be dual-signed: LeCoultre – Asprey:
Remember my report “The Watchmakers Watchmaker“? There I wrote about a different watch, but Asprey also offered Uniplan models as well.
Since the 1930’s, Asprey have moved next door, from 165 to 167 New Bond Street where they are still located today.
Not sure if they still offers Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, but back in the 1930’s they did.
Among them, the C.L.2 which is a Uniplan with clip-on. The dial is rotated horizontally, but the layout and style is very similar to the 444.
Speaking of London and the New Bond Street, Asprey were not the only store offering Jaeger-LeCoultre watches in the 1930’s.
In the other end of the street, 5 New Bond Street, Tyme Limited offered Jaeger-LeCoultre as well. Not sure what happened to Tyme but today 5 New Bond Street holds the headquarter of Ralph Lauren…
I really enjoyed reading this ad, so many fun and interesting things here –
The reflection of time: “You needn’t dial ‘TIM’ or wait for the wireless pips”… Yes, this was before computers and smartphones. You either had your own watch or had to call ‘TIM’ to get the time!
As always the sales pitches are less modest that what we see today – “You have the satisfaction of knowing that you have the best – money cannot buy better”.
“Switzerland’s greatest watch technicians & creationists”, “many of the world’s masterpieces emanate from this famous factory” – a reference to Jaeger-LeCoultre being the watchmakers watchmaker!
One detail in this ad is very interesting is the reference of synthetic sapphire glass, examining my Uniplan 444 I got surprised to see that indeed the crystal is sapphire glass and not plexi!
For those of you who remember – in the 2000’s, Jaeger-LeCoultre made a similar ladies watch to the Uniplan 444, the Idéale. Introduced in the catalogue 2006/2007 and was only offered for a few years…
To me, the Idéale is a modern version of the Uniplan 444, discrete, feminine and elegant. The Idéale was not only updated in size and looks but also offered with the choice of mechanical- or Quartz movement:
But let’s get back to the Uniplan 444 – inside is the Uniplan movement Calibre 404. Based on the movement number my watch is from 1936 which aligns well with the document I showed here.
The dimensions of the movement are 12.80 x 20.60 mm and 3.10 mm thick.
Compare to the dimensions of the Uniplan 444, 14.0 x 22.5 and 5.5 mm thick one relies that there is not much empty space inside the case.
Still, Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to make a lot of different Uniplan versions with similar or same measurements which all have their own identity.
Here are a few examples: Uniplan 440 and 436
My understanding is that all Uniplan 4nn references use the same movement and basically have the same case dimensions. If this theory is correct then at least 20 different Uniplan 4nn versions existed using Calibre 9”.
Quite impressive considering only lugs and dial direction differs between them!
There is a 500-series of Uniplan as well, larger in size, like the 552 seen in the Tyme advertisement. You can read more about these here: Uniplan
A friend of mine who started to collect Jaeger-LeCoultre told me the other day that he only collect watches, not clocks. My reply – let’s see… I give him T.W.O years, then he will be like me, hunting old ladies watches!
Stay tuned as we go deeper into the Jaeger-LeCoultre history!