THE masterful decorative techniques indigenous to workshops across Vallee de Joux have been passed on from one generation of artisans to another. And one such place in which these techniques have been nurtured is at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufactory. At the Swiss watchmaker’s floors the century-old crafts of gem-setting and engraving, enameling and guilloche making — all of which done by hand, using rudimentary tools — continue to be practiced by artificers.
Combining these skills with watch-making expertise has become a Jaeger-LeCoultre signature. Well, the company even has a catchphrase for this: The Art of Precision.
Apparently, this is no mere marketing pitch as evidenced in the latest addition to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Ultra Thin collection. Called Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel, the piece fuses traditional touches like guilloche and enameling, and horologic niceties such as a moonphase indicator.
Limited to only 100 examples, the new Moon Enamel is immediately distinguishable from among the pieces in the expansive Master Ultra Thin collection by its blue enamel dial. Enameling actually requires a finicky process in which a bare dial is not merely painted over, but is coated with molten material, then baked at high temperatures. Some techniques even require repetitive steps. The result, though, speaks for itself. The blue dial of the Moon Enamel has a depth and lushness that come across even in photographs.
And Jaeger-LeCoultre is all too aware of the beauty this craft brings — it rebooted its enameling work in 1999.
Over the Moon Enamel’s rich blue landscape sit a guilloche engraving of geometric motifs that are the handiwork of artisans, as well as hour markers whose shape (longer and split into two at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock) deviates slightly from those in other Master Ultra Thin models. Certainly, the substantial moonphase display at 6 o’clock, on a spot usually reserved for a small second counter in the Master Ultra Thin line, is hard to miss.
On this subdial reside a sliver of silver containing the date track with embossed numerals, and a center portion in blue enamel that also received guilloche engraving. The highlight here, of course, is the moonphase display where the moon shows itself as a perfectly round disk in its full cycle, and which hides from view corresponding to its other phases. A stylized night sky background completes the tableau.
Framing all this is a graceful case made in white gold, and which measures a sedate 39 millimeters across and only 10.04 millimeters deep — well, this is a Master Ultra Thin piece. Visible through the exhibition window on the caseback is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s cal. 925, a self-winding movement that allows for a date pointer on a subdial at 6 o’clock and the moonphase indicator. It has 38 jewels, spins at 28,800vph and has a generous 70-hour power reserve. A gold openworked rotor, Cotes de Geneve striping and other flourishes complement the beauty of the watch’s enamel dial and moonphase display.
This truly is the Art of Precision.