The past 100 years have without doubt brought along many technical changes. Looking at classical cars like Porsche 911, Jaguar X-type or Mercedes SL for example you might optically not notice too many differences to a modern version. However under the hood you will find a high tech engine. This is applicable to the watch industry. Brands strive to preserve their heritage and adopt new technical innovations into their engine – in this case the movement. However, Jaeger-LeCoultre has released a modern version of a watch from the 1950s which looks and ticks completely different then the original. The Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 (as well as LAB 1 from 2007) is, let’s say, an ‘illegitimate’ transformation of the Geophysic from 1958. Still, it is one of the most exciting and different watches at Jaeger-LeCoultre! And at the same time one of the most complicated chronograph watch.
Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to fit 569 individual parts into a watch case. And not only make them just fit, but at the same time arrange them all in a way that in the end all mechanism mesh and work! The manufacture is famous for their understatement in watchmaking. The most known collection is probably the Reverso, an elegant watch originally designed for Polo players. With their sports collections and specially the Master Compressor Extreme LAB the brand has proven their technical know-how to design the most complicated watches.
The most interesting feature from where all settings are operated is the crown of the watch. To select the different functions the crown is pushed instead of pulled out.
The ‘function selector window’ is placed next to the date window at 3 o’clock. Once the desired function is selected, an adjustment can be made by simply turning the crown. In ‘neutral’ position the crown serves to wind the barrels. One push activates the dual time zone display as well as the date. Another push switches the crown to the main time-zone adjustment mode. And a final push brings the system back to its initial position. This helps to prevent water and dusk getting into the case without the need of a traditional compression key.
Another interesting feature is the ‘stop seconds device’. Pulling out the crown resets the minute indicator but allows the seconds hand to continue moving – thus the precision of the watch rating is not affected. For a setting of the seconds hand, the slide on the left site of the case has to be used simultaneously. To protect the crown from unintentional pushing it is covered by two L-shaped metal levers which are coated with rubber for a non-slip grip.
What looks like a date indicator at 12 o’clock is the digital chronograph minute counter. The chronograph hours totalizer is located at 9 o’clock. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 offers a chronograph that counts up to 24 hours – instead of 12 hours what is more usual. But there of course is nothing usual with this timepiece and so sports enthusiasts can enjoy an extra 12 hours counting if needed.
Finally it is worth mentioning the unique ‘micro adjust system’ on the strap. Besides a quick release system, which is more or less standard nowadays, the watch is equipped with a small device on the buckle to tighten or loose the strap a little more precise, in case that one hole more or less is just not enough.
The 18k red gold version we are wearing is limited to 150 pieces. The version in titanium (TiVan 15 titanium which is only used by Jaeger-LeCoultre and 15% more scratch resistant) is limited to 300 and the 2015 timepiece with blue details is the first Master Compressor Extreme LAB which is being produced without limitation.