Previously I have been reporting about Jaeger-LeCoultre and the U.S. market, how the reference system differs from the Swiss reference system.
I also reported on some special pieces which were only offered on the U.S. market.
In this report I thought I would combine the T.W.O together and show you an example of both a U.S. market only piece and U.S. reference – the Case Code 114!
Since the U.S. market is a very large topic, in the end of this report I will link to several related reports.
As I previously stated, the case code found on U.S. made cases is not a watch reference by definition, it is a reference to the case itself. I.e. each case code may house different movements, creating different watches.
As of now, the case code is the closest I have been able to find on the U.S. market equivalent the watch reference used by the manufacture in Switzerland.
So, what is the case code 114? – It is one of the cases used for the LeCoultre Quartermaster, specific for the U.S. market!
Here is my case code 114 Quartermaster.
What confuse many collectors and even watch forum moderators is that there are T.W.O different versions of the Quartermaster.
The 114 is 33.5 mm in diameter with thin straight lugs and case back with a screw-on locking ring – a similar solution as to the E 853/E 855 Memovox with the difference that the case back do not need to be fixed in a special position for the alarm pin.
The second version of the Quartermaster is the 2405 with long tapered lugs and a more traditional screw-down case back.
Here is one example found on the Internet, not sure who to credit for this watch:
Unfortunately, neither the 114 nor the 2405 are included in the case code document I have, but I do know that the 2405 case was made by the Star Watch Case Company.
Looking at the surrounding case codes in the document, the Star Watch Case Company also made both the 2404 and the 2406 which makes it a mystery why the 2405 is not included in the list.
For those of you who are familiar with LeCoultre Calibres can see that the 2403 is a Futurematic, the 2404 is a Memovox and the 2416 is a small ladies watch – “the Hers” to “the His” 2406.
Side note, the case 2416 is an asymmetric case which is very specific in its shape. Combined with the same crown 29SP and crystal 1342 there can not have been any exterior differences of the 2416 versions, except possible for hands and dials which indicates that by some reason the calibre was changed for the 2416 during its lifetime. Both Calibres are very similar but the Calibre 840 is 0.2 mm longer. Calibre 840, 15.4 x 13 mm – Calibre 490, 15.2 x 13 mm.
Back to the Quartermaster…
The Quartermaster was only offered in the North American market and as far as I know the only true 24 hours wrist watch made by Jaeger-LeCoultre. 24 hours watch – the hour hand make one full revolution around the dial in 24 hours.
Many collectors think that the Quartermaster was only in production between 1957-1958. But based on the movement number sequences observed and the Mercury 7 version in 1961, I suspect the assembling of the Quartermaster production was not as concentrated as earlier assumed. I suspect that a span of 1957 to 1961 is more likely.
The Quartermaster is easy to recognise due to the 24 on top and 12 at the bottom of the dial. Both black and white dials exists, and if you google you will find several versions of inscriptions of each colour.
What all the different versions of the 2405 and the 114 have in common is that all dials have applied metal markers and lume dots on each hour.
I will not go into details about the different inscription versions in this report or what I consider correct or not, but the white dial 2405 shown earlier – I have strong doubts that the dial is original…
I am much more confident in the inscription of this early white dial version, based on movement number, which belongs to OnTheDash:
I know several collectors expressed disbelief in this type of “Quartermaster” script, but if you compare with other models from the same period, I have no doubt this type is correct.
A second version which also aligns with what can be seen during this period, is the arched “QUARTERMASTER” like mine:
Based on observations, Jaeger-LeCoultre made at least T.W.O batches of the Calibre K 831/CW which is inside the Quartermaster.
First batch with movement numbers in the 1305nnn – 1306nnn range cased with the 114 case and a second batch with movement numbers in the 1328nnn range cased with the 2405 case AND NOT TO FORGET – the 112 Mercury 7 watches.
Yes, if movements are used in somewhat chronological order, the 114 was before both the 2405 and the 112!
I compared the case 114 and case 112, but can’t find any differences except the number stamped on the inside. I have also observed some Quartermaster cases of the same type without any numbers on the inside at all which.
Now if we zoom in on the case 114: unfortunately, there are no markings of who manufactured the case, not even country of origin.
Text on the outside are the same on all of this type regardless of number inside: “WATER PROOF – ANTI MAGNETIC – SHOCKBILT – LIFETIME MAIN SPRING” in a circle and inside of the circle is the additional text: “ALL STAINLESS STEEL”
Here you can see the locking ring and inside of the case back – only markings are “LECOULTRE” and “114”.
So far we focused on the U.S. market special piece, the Quartermaster. Now we come to the next part of this report – the U.S. market reference system!
As you can see there are T.W.O 114 cases shown above – the one to the left belongs to the Quartermaster…
The one to the right belongs to this watch: 114 with 12 hours dial and movement – same type of broad hands, same type of applied metal index, lume… But with a 12 hours dial and movement.
Now, the problem is that since both watches have case code 114, one need to combine the code with movement to keep them apart.
Inside the Quartermaster is the K 831/CW, size 11 1/2:
Inside the 114 with 12 hours dial – Calibre K 830/CW, size 11 1/2.
Both Calibres with the same base, same size, which makes them easy to fit into the same case.
Same-same but different!
Both specially made for the U.S. market – left: 114 Quartermaster 24h, K 831/CW – right: 114 anonymous 12h, K 830/CW.
As you might have noticed, this is a complicated and time consuming topic to navigate – but at the same time – fun, interesting and challenging!
Links to related reports:
U.S. Reference System – Part #1
U.S. Reference System – Part #2
Mercury 7 Quartermaster
Mercury 7 Quartermaster follow-up
Lucky 13 John Glenn
Hope you enjoyed this third part of U.S. market reference system and that you will follow me as I go deeper into the vast history of Jaeger-LeCoultre!
Stay tuned for more!