The two pillars of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Reverso and the Master lines, are both very historic timepieces. They were not models born ex nihilo, but the fruit of a long historic process of maturation, which brought together elements of technical watchmaking, design and social history.
The Reverso, such as we know it, officially dates back to March 4, 1931, when a patent was filed at 1:15 in the afternoon in Paris. It came about because polo players of the era requested a watch that could be protected from shocks during the game. The Reverso’s rectangular shape was possible even in those days because form movements had been developed several years before.
In the same vein, the Master line, born during the 1950s, traces its roots back to the company’s early exploration into the potential offered by the automatic movement in terms of meeting the needs of the period. There was a rising demand for watches with alarms and different time zones to satisfy travellers who were beginning to move between continents. Gradually, the Master line would regroup all the automatic movements made during Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history. It was only natural that, when the decision was made to create a new line of ladies’ timepieces, the designers would look towards the brand’s past, a past extraordinarily rich in inspiration.
Drawing inspiration from the 1920s
When Janek Deleskiewicz, the brand’s established stylist, examined what the company had accomplished in the domain of ladies’ watches in the past, he noticed that during the 1920s, Jaeger-LeCoultre were highly innovative. “The extraordinary upheavals of this era, the rise in social power of women after the catastrophe of the years from 1914 to 1918, the wild acceleration of fashion and changes in clothing habits, the liberation of women, and the new social order have all been perfectly reflected in our archives. During this period, Jaeger-LeCoultre was innovating like mad. It created the tiny movement 101, the Duoplan watch and other form movements that led, by a process of integrated design, to case shapes resembling the shape of the movement. Innovation also took place in the finishing and decoration,” explains Deleskiewicz.
“In the beginning, we drew inspiration from this treasure but never with the intention of copying anything. In the next step, we freed ourselves from this and began to ponder the situation. How could we create the ideal feminine timepiece, one that would be wearable for all occasions and suitable for the diverse activities of the contemporary woman, all while remaining within the accepted boundaries of the brandı”
Beginning with a sugar cube
The challenge was to meet these terms and create a ladies’ watch wearable in all situations, elegant but not ostentatious, mirroring the fundamental genes of the brand, and be entirely realisable by the company… In short, the ideal watch!
“After immersing ourselves in the creativity of the 1920s, then deliberately forgetting it,” adds Janek Deleskiewicz, “we began with a fairly large volume, a little like a sugar cube, rather elongated but composed, as always at Jaeger-LeCoultre, of a design based on the Golden Rectangle. We wanted a multi-faceted form, something bold. After designing the form of the case, we had to find a way to attach it to the bracelet. The basic sugar cube had to be recognizable, and we did not want the attaches
to be of the ‘stretcher-style’. Therefore we rounded the edges of the sugar cube, which allowed us to make the horns quite visible. They then became an integral element of the watch’s design.”
The result was a watch that was quite different when viewed from the side than when viewed from the top. From the face side, it seems like a delicate, elegant and refined timepiece. Seen from the side, the thickness of the case gives it a bold presence and a definite personality. The bracelet attaches between the two horns, which are highlighted with diamonds, are fixed in a movable fashion to the first link. This gives exceptional flexibility and offers the possibility to adapt the watch to all wrist sizes, from the smallest to the largest. The slight curve of the case adds even more to the ergonometric feel of the piece. The mother-of-pearl or slate dial features two fan-shaped hands and two numbers, the 12 and 6. It is both graceful and subtle, yet provides great readability. The crown, set with a precious stone, is finely sculpted but is easily manipulated.
“The finishing of each element is truly of superior quality,” declares Deleskiewicz, “because our industrial tool allows us today to achieve such detail and precision that were impossible before.”
In the DNA of Jaeger-LeCoultre
With its bracelets without screws, available in gold or in steel, or on the contrary, its interchangeable bracelets in leather or satin, the Idéale exudes its own style. Far from being a simple reduction in size of a man’s timekeeper, it offers a perfect fusion between the delicateness of jewellery and the vigour of form.
About ten years ago, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched a feminine collection under the name of Rendez-Vous. The piece did not take hold and the line was abandoned. One of the reasons for this past failure is certainly due to the lack of identification of the Rendez-Vous model in relation to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s own style. With the Idéale, however, one immediately knows that this is a “watch made by Jaeger-LeCoultre.”
The identity of the new line with the brand’s genetic material, to its DNA as people like to say today, is very clear. It is difficult to say exactly why, but undoubtedly this impression is due to the balance between refinement, subtlety, and style. As its creator Janek Deleskiewicz sums up with a smile, the pieces of the brand are “poetic timekeeping.” So, how can we adequately explain poetic emotionı On the other hand, this is precisely what one feels with the Idéale watch – a certain poetry, indescribable but present, a certain authenticity, perhaps…
A collection in development
At its launch, the Idéale collection is available in four basic versions: steel or 18 carat yellow gold, with 24 diamonds; 18 carat white gold set with 108 diamonds; 18 carat white gold case and bracelet set with 236 diamonds. All the diamonds are VVS and F-G Top Wesselton.
As always at Jaeger-LeCoultre, each version corresponds to a precise offer. The steel model comes with a mother-of-pearl or grey slate dial, mounted on a black alligator bracelet with a fold-over clasp or ardillon buckle in steel or steel bracelet; the 18K yellow watch has a mother-of-pearl dial, camel alligator bracelet with a fold-over clasp or ardillon buckle in 18 carat yellow gold, or an 18 carat yellow gold bracelet; the 18 carat white gold version displays a mother-of-pearl dial with brilliant stones on a grey satin or white 18 carat gold bracelet.
Two movements are proposed: a manual-winding mechanical movement, the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 846, produced and decorated by hand, with a power reserve of 42 hours; or a quartz movement, the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 608, assembled and decorated by hand. All models come protected with a sapphire crystal, with a hardness of 9, and are water-resistant to 30 metres. This new watch is only the prelude, according to the brand, to new developments that will continue over the next few years.
The last ‘detail’ is the price. With an entry-level price in Switzerland for the steel model set at CHF 4,350 for the quartz movement, and at CHF 5,350 for the mechanical movement, the Idéale is also ideal in terms of its quality/beauty/price ratio.
The current launch will tell if Jaeger-LeCoultre’s “Idéale” will become the ideal timepiece of today’s consumer.
A great capacity
Jérôme Lambert, CEO:
"If Jaeger-LeCoultre is launching a new line today, a line that is totally produced in-house like its other lines, it is because the manufacture has a large capacity at pres-ent. In the global offer of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Idéale is a new sector with its own identity and not a ‘satellite’ entity. Currently, our teams are competing with each other, each having a strong desire and determination to innovate. Gone are the difficult days, especially 2001-2002; we are once again at full capacity. This autumn, we are proposing a remarkable bouquet of new products. We just introduced the exceptional Gyrotourbillon I, and we are launching the Idéale. And, we are also celebrating our partnership with Aston Martin, and two new watches have just been presented in this regard. We have redesigned the Reverso skeleton and given a fresh look to our collections. In brief, we are sailing along at high speed and I can assure you that, among all the brands in the Richemont group, we are not the least profitable!”