Upon attending the Only Watch Preview in Monaco, guitarist legend John McLaughlin suddenly crosses our path. What on earth is one of the best guitarists in the world doing at such a specific, specialised event? We discover that not only is he a huge watch enthusiast, but also, together with independent Swiss watch brand Artya, he is designing a truly exceptional watch, which was to be sold off at November’s Only Watch charity auction barely two months later.
On November 6, the one-off Artya x John McLaughlin watch was auctioned off for 55,000 Swiss francs in aid of the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy – its estimated selling price had been between 35,000 to 50,000 Swiss francs.
The watch upon his wrist so striking us is a pretty rare 1950s LeCoultre, a gift from his wife from Boston sometime in the 1990s. The lugs of the watch are particularly noticeable, and are not something we have ever seen the likes of before. Golden loops are welded onto the yellow-gold case, fastening the lugs to which they are attached. The ivory-coloured dial has tapered hour markers and a minute track, which does not lie around the very periphery of the dial, but rather further within. Meanwhile, the small seconds lie at 6 o’clock.
Another notable feature of this model is that the dial is signed solely LeCoultre. Could this be a model, then from before the coming together of the movement manufacture LeCoultre and watchmaker Jaeger? No – it has nothing to do with the time of production, but rather with the place. Because of limiting toll restrictions at the time, the case, dial, and hands were made in the USA between the 1930s and 1970s. On the US market, the models were therefore signed with LeCoultre, while the European models read Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The watch has neither a model name nor a reference – there were actually models at JLC at that time which were not assigned to any particular collection or line. The diameter of the timepiece is 29.5 mm, the case is finished with 14-carat yellow-gold, and inside the beautiful stranger ticks the calibre 480.
During his lifetime, John McLaughlin owned a diverse range of Swiss watches, including an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a golden Rolex GMT, a Rolex Submariner, a Cartier Tank Reverso (yes it really existed), an Oris Pilot’s watch, and a Parmigiani. He may no longer have all of these watches, but, says the musician, he still wears his LeCoultre regularly.