If you’re searching high and low for the perfect timepiece to gift your loved one this Christmas, Jaeger-LeCoultre may have the answer. The collaboration between Edmond Jaeger and Antoine LeCoultre, who were a Swiss and a French watchmaker led to the company being officially renamed JaegerLeCoultre in 1937. With a storied heritage, the brand has form when it comes to designing classic watches that look as elegant today as the day they first launched. From its iconic Reverso, a horological icon since 1931, to its sophisticated Master collection and dazzling Rendez-Vous, its creations for both ladies and gents bring to life craftsmanship, artistry and sheer imagination. Here are our favourites.
A thing of beauty
Jaeger-LeCoultre is perhaps most synonymous with its famous Reverso. As watchmaking lore has it, during the winter of 1930, a British Army officer in India was playing polo when his wristwatch was damaged by the hard knocks of the game. At the end of the match, he showed his broken timepiece to a Swiss businessman and watch collector called César de Trey, challenging him to come up with a design that could withstand the demands of polo. De Trey returned to Paris and teamed up with Antoine’s grandson, Jacques-David LeCoultre, to solve the problem. The result was the Reverso, launched in 1931, featuring a now-signature rectangular swivel case that could be flipped over to protect the crystal. The original had a plain steel case back, the potential of which was soon spotted: it could be engraved with bespoke designs. Pioneering aviator Amelia Earheart and King Edward VIII both owned customised Reverso timepieces, and Earheart’s featured the itinerary of her first flight.
Today, the Reverso collection is still hugely popular, whether purchased to be specially engraved or for the sheer thrill of owning a horological icon. As well as the classic iterations, there are Duoface models with a dial on each side, models with skeletonised dials, and others with incredible complications. We’re big fans of this Reverso One model, featuring a stainless-steel 40.1mm x 20mm case adorned with diamonds at the top and bottom, a quartz movement, and a silvered grey dial. It’s presented on a blue leather strap, and its simple steel case back can be adorned with a design of your own choosing (£4,850).
You can read more about the Jaeger-Le Coultre Reverso on Calibre Online here.
Despite the enduring success of the Reverso, the brand’s most popular collection these days is the Master. Based on Calibre 145, the first ultra-thin movement created by Edmond Jaeger and Jacques-David LeCoultre back in 1907, the Master collection is divided into three ranges: the Master Ultra Thin, the Master Control and the Master Grande Tradition. Each has the same characteristics so beloved of Jaeger-LeCoultre: a slim profile, a pure (in this case, round) case shape, and an uncluttered dial design. Take this Master Ultra Thin Date. It has a wearable 39mm stainless-steel case that’s just 7.8mm thick, set on a classic black leather strap, making it the ultimate dress watch for any occasion. Its simple silver sunray dial has rhodium-plated hour markers, which are longer and more elegant in this iteration, and a date window at 6 o’clock that lends the model its name (£6,700). For a slightly more complex take on the Master Ultra Thin, there’s the gorgeous pink-gold Master Ultra Thin Moon, with an eggshell-beige dial and is also 39mm in diameter. As its name also suggests, it houses the brands astonishingly slender Calibre 925 (just 4.9 mm thick), which powers the charming moonphase display at 6 o’clock. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal case back (£15,600).
A meeting of minds
Naturally, Jaeger-LeCoultre has a dazzling selection of timepieces for ladies too. In fact, in 2012, it unveiled the Rendez-Vous, one of the first fully automatic watch collections created for women only, rather than just being a smaller version of an existing mens watch. Today, the collection offers over 40 different variations, from simple day/night indications to celestial complications and perpetual calendars. One of our favourite models is the Rendez-Vous Night & Day Medium. It has a 34mm stainless-steel case adorned with dazzling diamonds, a silvered grey guilloché dial, blue florale hands and a gorgeous day/night indicator. Last but not least, it’s a watch with brains as well as beauty, housing the brands automatic Calibre 898A/1, which offers an approximate 38-hour power reserve (£12,200).
Whichever model you choose, it’s guaranteed to stand the test of time and the brand now offer an eight year warranty on all of their watches. The brand is still based in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, where Antoine LeCoultre first opened his small watchmaking workshop nearly two centuries ago. Not only has it developed more than 1,000 different calibres, but it has created milestone watches along the way, such as its Calibre 101, which weighs just a gram and was worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation. We’ve no doubt that the house’s regal creations for both men and women will make the ideal present this Christmas.