By Gordon Henderson
There is no denying that Jaeger-LeCoultre is a master of high complications. This brand has unveiled record-breaking watches time and again. Earlier this year, the brand unveiled — as part of its Haute Joaillerie line — the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication. A blend of craftsmanship, elegance and innovation, the watch features three major complications: a minute repeater, a flying Tourbillon and an elaborate zodiac calendar. Each complication is an achievement in its own right and bringing all three features into one watch is an phenomenal accomplishment.
As if that weren’t enough, Jaeger-LeCoultre has ensconced this technical mastery with 294 baguette cut diamonds. This piece is guaranteed to appeal to horological purists, as well as everyone’s inner precious-stone-loving Romanov persona. Not surprisingly, this will be a limited run and only 8 pieces, all in white gold, will be produced.
The dial of the Master Grande is colored in a dark blue aventurine to simulate the night sky and has diamonds to simulate the stars, which is actually a sky chart of the northern hemisphere. A zodiac calendar make this astronomical watch a super tool. A sun performs a full revolution in 24 hours around the rim, thereby displaying a 24- hour indication, zodiac signs, as well as the days and months appearing on a circular scale surrounding the dial. Its precision is based on advanced technology, with a flying tourbillon setting the pace.
Indeed, the orbital flying tourbillon– visible from the dial side of the watch — is of major note. Held in place only on the movement side, the entire tourbillon mechanism consists of 73 parts and is constructed of lightweight titanium and fitted on a lubricant-free ball baring system. The silicon parts of the escapement, including the lever, integrated pallets and escape wheel (a completely new design), are clearly visible. The tourbillon makes a revolution once every minute and, as it is mounted on the orbital disk, completes a sidereal day around the face of the watch every 23 hours 56 minutes, hence the term orbital.
The minute repeater features two crystal gongs, trebuchet hammers and will produce hours, quarters and minutes via the slide on the side of the watch. Jaeger has gone through great lengths to enhance the quality of sound. The hammers are mounted onto the sapphire display back which helps enhance the vibrations as the hammers make contact and the overall effect acts as a loud speaker. The contact area of the hammers are square vs the traditional round hammers to allow for a more forceful strike. Finally, as stated earlier, two hammers are used to create the chimes for the minute repeater. The dual system helps to maintain approximately 80% of the power applied to activate the mechanism vs the 10-30% in other minute repeaters.
The Master Grand Tradition Grande Complication, once completely finished and cased up, is subjected to the 1000 Hours Chronometer Test – an extended version of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s famed 1000 Hours test, which also takes into account all aspects of the official COSC chronometer-testing procedures. Powered by the manually wound calibre 945 with 527 parts, the watch comes in at 46.7 mm diameter and can be yours for $386,000, but act now as supplies are limited!