Jaeger-LeCoultre, based in Switzerland's remote Vallee de Joux, has been crafting timepieces since 1833.
Alexis de Laporte, Jaeger-LeCoultre managing director for Southeast Asia and Australia.
A manufacturer in the true sense of the word, the watchmaking takes place under one roof, the process involving 180 different skills, from annealing and brass soldering to varnishing and wire drawing, and elaborate craftsmanship such as enamelling, engraving and openworking _ skills that have been handed down the generations.
"It's hard to master all the know-how but because of our long tradition we can do it, and this makes for unique watchmaking. Creating everything that goes into our watches makes us exceptional, a true manufacturer," said Alexis de Laporte, the brand's regional managing director for Southeast Asia and Australia, who was in Bangkok recently to introduce the 2012 collection.
"The Vallee de Joux looks like it has never changed whereas Jaeger-LeCoultre has been growing and growing, while keeping up with the times," he said. "Although things seem serene in the valley and from outside, inside it's boiling with innovation. As an independent manufacturer, we can innovate and when we have an idea, there's no limit to what we can do."
The Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire with a dual-wing movement for timekeeping precision.
Over the past 180 years, the Swiss watchmaker has built 1,231 mechanical movements, from the world's smallest to highly complicated calibres. Each watch actually has its own calibre developed and produced in-house in order to mould the shape of its case and offer exclusive functions.
Debuting in 1931, the iconic Reverso watch features a rectangular "reversible" case. This avant-garde timepiece was created in response to the needs of British army officers stationed in India, who wanted a watch capable of surviving the hard knocks of a polo match.
More than a sports watch, the Reverso with its pure geometrical shape became an Art Deco classic that has appeared in new guises while housing over 50 different mechanical calibres, from the world's smallest to sophisticated complications, ranging from ultra-thin movements to tourbillons and from minute repeaters to perpetual calendars.
"The Reverso is a fine example of our elegant and timeless watches. There's a balance in aesthetic design and technical content, which is achieved by us being a true manufacturer with our engineers and designers working together in creating watches," he said. "In addition, the new Reverso models showcase our artisan heritage in engraving, enamelling, openworking and guilloche working that exalt the beauty of these watches."
Reinventing this classic, the 2012 collection presents Grande Reverso Calendar and Grande Reverso Ultra Thin SQ.
In a steel or pink gold case, the Grande Reverso Calendar features traditional finishing that accentuates its geometrical shape while enhancing the understated stage set for a distinctive horological complication.
The watch indicates the day and month on respective discs appearing through two apertures at 12 o'clock, along with the date at 6 o'clock encircling the moon phases. The traditional arrangement of the conventional time indication via central hour and minute hands is focused on ensuring optimal readability against the vertical satin-brushed dial with a hand-guilloche motif reminiscent of pocket-watches.
With two finely crafted faces, the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin SQ lends its dual nature to the traditional art of openworking, demonstrating the artistic and technical expertise mastered by only a very few watch manufacturers.
Entirely openworked and decorated by hand, the mechanical movement reveals its wheel-trains interwoven according to a purposefully created design. Issued in a 50-piece limited edition, the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin SQ boasts Art Deco lines that echo the classic design.
"Watch lovers are more attracted to classic models, and Thai watch connoisseurs are participating in setting this global trend," noted the Frenchman. "They look for watches that offer both aesthetic and precision, which is also our expertise."
One example of Jaeger-LeCoultre's quest for precision is the Dual-Wing Calibre 381 featured in the Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire model.
A common problem in mechanical watches, any additional complication reduces the power of the winding barrel thus depriving the precisely tuned regulation organ of the steady flow of energy from the winding barrel required for precision. This problem can be overcome by using independent power sources to run the complication. Divided into two sections, the Dual-Wing Calibre 381 provides independent power supplies: one dedicated to creating a perfect timing foundation, the other for the display of time as well as date and the age of the moon. Both are synchronised through the jumping seconds hand mechanism driven by the escapement.
The Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire displays time with a jumping seconds hand showing one-sixth of a second increments while the date and the age of the moon appear in separate sub dials. Its sapphire case back reveals the exquisite mechanical movement, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand.
"With the Dual-Wing Calibre 381, our watchmakers have pushed precision to new heights. Such a sophisticated approach to timekeeping precision is a typical advantage that 180 years of expertise in watchmaking can bring," said de Laporte.
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- Writer: Kanokporn Chanasongkram