There are brands and manufactures with a clearly louder appearance, however rarely ones with a more sonorous. Jaeger-LeCoultre is an instance in the field of minute repeaters. In 1895, the year the first pocket watch with grand complication was presented, the Jaeger-LeCoultre workshops patented the first so called silent strike regulator. Ever since, around 200 chime calibres were produced. To set the right tone – that is incentive and a matter truly dear to the heart for the JLC-watchmakers in Vallée de Joux. One of the best examples for this is the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, a watch with a long name and world-record-Haute-Horlogerie.
WORLD RECORD HOLDER
With only 4,8 mm movement-height that are fitted in a slim 7,9 mm case, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon is the world’s thinnest tourbillon with minute repeater. But in its combination, the already in 2014 launched timepiece is pretty unique until today.
It is a watch with an unmistakable elegance, however whose refinements only reveal at a second or third glimpse. For a start, there is the flying tourbillon with flying balance that seems to float above the 6 o’clock position. On the other hand, there is an automatic winding calibre 362 with peripheral rotor in platinum that is, other than usual, not mounted on the lower movement side, but instead placed underneath the dial and can be seen through some small apertures from the dial side. The latter was not just a design decision, as the subtle apertures are mainly there to improve the sound of the minute repeater.
It gives a very unique aesthetic between tradition and modernity to the dial. The otherwise very classical design gets an unusual twist that is at least technically entirely reasonable. Probably, not everyone will be entirely pleased however. Maybe a reason why this limited edition of 75 has not been completely sold even after six years.
It is a masterpiece for those, that appreciate the history of the manufacture’s most extraordinary complications as well as the paths that the Maison’s watchmaker choose for it.
THE PERFECT SOUND
In 2009, JLC already presented a masterpiece: The Duométre a Grande Sonnerie (also known as “Hybris Mechanica 6”) with 1.400 components, which was the world’s most complicated watch at that time not least due to its chime with 24 notes, that played the longest Westminster Big Ben melody. The Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon with ‘only’ 566 components is another step to a perfect sonority.
Instead of the traditional hammers, they decided to use so called “trebouchet” hammers to ensure that the gongs are struck with the greatest possible impact onto the crystal gong that is linked to the sapphire glass. Furthermore, the watchmakers at Jaeger-LeCoultre developed a complex system to ensure a smoother chord progression. Traditional minute repeaters are made to hit hours, quarter hours and minutes. If there is no quarter of an hour to announce, a sound pause follows. But this movement detects a missing quarter hour and eliminates the waiting period – low and high sounds resonate consecutively without disrupting the beat.
Even the white gold case material was chosen to improve the tone quality. Platinum is still regarded as the most elegant amongst all noble metals, but the tones simply sound better in a white gold case of this 294.000 euros timepiece.
Another optical highlight that can be referred to the demand of horological perfection, is the retractable and patented monopusher that releases the minute repeater. It is placed at the 10 o’clock position on the case and only appears when unlocked by a slider mechanism at 8 o’clock. This preserves the harmonic and elegant-ergonomic shape of this 41 mm case. The technical advantage compared to ordinary mechanisms is, that it only takes two millimeters moving the slider to wind up the barrel and trigger the minute repeater.
These all are pretty good reasons to regard this watch as more than just another piece of Haute Horlogerie: A watch that stands above all spirit of times. It has a beautiful and timeless grained dial – with a limitation of 75 pieces it is far too rare and special to become an Instagram star. And with its slim profile, it is a world record holder but eventually a piece of history from a manufacture that regularly produces outstanding pieces in the field of minute repeaters.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon is much more than a piece of tradition, but a proof for the steady strive for perfection that has already lasted for more than 100 years. Could be that the Master Grande Tradition Répétition Minutes Perpetuelle that was introduces last years is the resent incumbent of the JLC-range. But as said before: In terms of the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon it is not about the most impressive appearance, but the good tone and most elegant lines.