Jaeger-LeCoultre unvieils the biggest surprise of SIHH

Jaeger-LeCoultre surprised at the SIHH Geneva watch fair with a late arrival that has only just been officially released – its JLC  Master Control collection of three new pieces that look, feel and are priced to meet the desires of enthusiasts in tough times.

Rather that concentrate on high-end wonders we could never aspire to let alone afford right now, the venerable brand has sniffed the wind and come up with three steel-cased watches that mean special timepieces are within range for those who appreciate such things.

Master of ceremonies

It has been 25 years since the Master Control collection was first unveiled in 1992 combining what brands like to call "classic aesthetics" along with performance that illustrates the quality of their in-house movements.

The new watches comprise a Master Control Date, Master Chronograph, and Master Geographic, and not only fulfill that promise but look downright alluring.

The three models offer functions of everyday utility while vintage-inspired design manages to set them apart from other timepieces.

The Master Chronograph – our favourite – is the largest of the trio at 40mm and has two counters indicating hours and minutes and a tachometer scale (for measuring the speed of travel from one point to another) running around the outer perimeter. It has an impressive 65 hours power reserve.

The 39mm Master Geographic provides travellers with a novel way of reading the second time zone. An aperture in the lower section of the dial displays the names of 24 world cities representing their time zones. A crown set at 10 o'clock on the case adjusts the display of the relevant second zone. Power reserve is 43 hours.

The Master Control Date is a simpler 39mm execution with clean, rounded lines and just the the emblematic numerals 6, 9, and 12 while the 3 makes way for a date indication. A sapphire crystal case-back reveals the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 899/1 with its 22-carat gold oscillating weight ensuring 38 hours power reserve.

Executive flourishes

The new Master Controls are powered by automatic movements enhanced with touches of blue, picking up the shade of the skeletonised baton hands and the blued stainless steel central seconds.

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These executive flourishes continue through to alligator leather bands while there's a polished finish on the bezel and lugs that contrasts with satin-brushed case-sides.

The face of each watch has a circular satin-brushed finish in the outer section with an opaline finish at the heart of the dial. This makes light bounce off it at different angles, ensuring the indications are easier to read. The hour-markers are black.

The result is a brace of watches priced in the $11,000 region but looking a million dollars.

This article first appeared in Watch-Next