History of Jaeger LeCoultre’s

By Danny 10/19/2017 Luxury watches


Jaeger-LeCoultre is a Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer based in Le Sentier, Switzerland, that dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century, founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833 under the name Lecoultre & Cie.

In 1927 LeCoultre & Cie sold 75 per cent of the company to S Smith & Sons and in 1937 the company name was changed to British Jaeger Instruments Limited operating locations in London under the Jaeger name, and in Switzerland under the name Lecoultre. It wasn’t til 1985 when the trademark for the Lecoultre name expired and the company was renamed to Jaeger Lecoultre.”

The Jaeger LeCoultre company has always distinguished itself over the rest of the watchmakers in the world. Consistently conquering new eras and new seasons. Surpassing expectations and reaching unthoughtful heights. Whenever  new challenges arrive the company is eager to face them with creativity and innovation.

The brand has created over 1,242 different calibres, registered approximately 400 patents and created hundreds of inventions. Jaeger Lecoultre Created the world’s smallest calibre, one of most complicated wristwatches and a timepiece of near-perpetual movement.

In 1833, following his invention of a machine to cut watch pinions from steel, Antoine LeCoultre founded a small watchmaking workshop in Le Sentier Switzerland, where he honed his horological skills to create high-quality timepieces In 1844, he invented the most precise measuring instrument in the world at the time, named the Millionomètre.

The Millionomètre was the first instrument in history capable of measuring the micron, allowing for the precise manufacture of watch parts. The invention was never patented, as no such system existed in Switzerland at the time. However, its unique composition was kept a closely guarded secret, used by the company for more than fifty years. It was presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900.

In 1847, Antoine invented a keyless watch system to rewind and set watches. The second simple and reliable winding and time-setting system to do without a key after Patek Philippe’s version in 1845. Instead, it relied on a small push-piece that activated a lever to change over from one function to another. Again, the invention was not patented, allowing other watchmakers to quickly implement the system. Four years later, he was awarded a gold medal for his work on timepiece precision and Mechanization at the first Universal Exhibition in London.

In 1866, at a time when LeCoultre’s watchmaking skills were divided up among hundreds of small workshops, Antoine and his son, Elie LeCoultre, established the Vallée de Joux’s first full-fledged manufacture, LeCoultre & Cie., pooling their employees’ expertise under one roof. Under this set-up, they developed in 1870 the first partially mechanised production processes for complicated movements.[7]

By the same year, the Manufacture employed 500 people and was known as the “Grande Maison of the Vallée de Joux”, and by 1900, it had created over 350 different calibres, of which 128 were equipped with chronograph functions and 99 with repeater mechanisms. For the first time in watchmaking history, LeCoultre & Cie. began to manufacture calibres with small complications in small series, and in 1891 combined the chronograph and minute repeater complications into a double complication calibre.

This subsequently led in the mid-1890s to the production of grandes complications, or watches comprising of at least three classic horological complications, such as a perpetual calendarchronograph and minute repeater.

In 1925, the LeCoultre Calibre 7BF Duoplan was created in an effort to bring together miniaturisation and precision. The fashion of the period was for small wristwatches.  Created by Henri Rodanet, the technical director of Etablissements Ed. Jaeger, the Duoplan was built on two levels – hence its name – enabling it to maintain a large-size balance.

The Duoplan was also one of the first gem-set steel watches and, in 1929, its glass was replaced with sapphire crystal, a first in watchmaking history.

This design made it easy to replace the watch face if it ever needed repair, and was a major advertisement with a slogan claiming,“You won’t have time to finish your cigarette before your watch is repaired” The Duoplan is endowed with extraordinary precision and excellent features.

An additional innovation that was released at this time was the Caliber 101 Reverso by Jaeger-Lecoultre. It is without a doubt one of the most meticulous watches in the world.

Created in 1929 and still produced today with its success, this watch weighs only 1 gram and includes 74 pieces! So it shows it to the smallest movement in the world. With its gray gold case and diamonds set, this unique and mythical watch remains rare and has never been equaled, in terms of its size / performance and its lightness.

The Atmos Clock is a timepiece of near-perpetual movement needing no human intervention and almost no energy. Invented by Swiss engineer Jean-Léon Reutter in 1928 in Neuchâtel, the Atmos clock has been the Swiss government’s official gift for important guests since 1950. Patented in 1928, the first version – known today as the Atmos 1 – It derives energy from small Temperature and Atmospheric pressure changes in the environment, and can run for years without human intervention. Wound by a capsule filled with a mixture of temperature-sensitive gases, a 1 °C fluctuation is enough to store sufficient energy to supply the clock with two days’ autonomy. Its balance, suspended from a steel-alloy wire thinner than a hair, performs two vibrations per minute; its gearing requires no lubricant. The Atmos’ gearing is known for its accuracy: the moon-phase model, for example, accumulates a one-day discrepancy only once every 3,821 years.

The patents were subsequently purchased by Jaeger-LeCoultre in France 1936 and in Switzerland in 1937. The company then spent ten years perfecting the clock before beginning to manufacture it in its current technological form in 1946. In 1988, the Kohler and Rekow design agency created a two-piece limited edition showcase for the clock and, in 2003, the Manufacture released the Atmos Mystérieuse, driven by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 583 and comprising of 1,460 parts.

In honour of the International Geophysical Year in 1958, Jaeger-LeCoultre created a watch protected against magnetic fields, water and shocks. The Geophysic chronometer was proposed by long-time employee Jules-César Savary as a watch intended for scientific bases in Antarctica. The watch was fitted with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 478BWS and featured seventeen jewels, a Breguet overcoil, a regulating spring on the balance-cock, a shock-absorber and a Glucydur balance. The year of its release, the Geophysic was offered to William R. Anderson, the captain of the Nautilus, the first American nuclear submarine to travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans via the North Pole.

Jaeger LeCoultre produces some complicated watches (Grand complication), e.g. the Master Gyrotourbillon 1 with a spherical Tourbillon. The Duomètre Sphérotourbillon is equipped with a tourbillon adjustable to the nearest second; the Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau is equipped with a minute-repeater shutter as a third face covering one of its two dials; the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication is equipped with a flying tourbillon that follows the rhythm of celestial phenomena and indicates sidereal time, and a minute repeater comprising cathedral gongs; the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie is equipped with gongs capable of playing the entire Big Ben chime; the Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 is equipped with a spherical tourbillon principle, a reversible case and a cylindrical balance; the Master Compressor Extreme LAB is oil-free; the Gyrotourbillon 1 is equipped with a tourbillon evolving in three dimensions to compensate for the effects of gravity in all positions.

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1 Comment

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