As more and more collectors turn to pre-owned and vintage watches — maybe because of the shortage of new production watches or because of a love of all things vintage, several top-notch, savvy watch brands are making a smart move: snapping up their own vintage watches, restoring them to as-close-to-original as possible and putting them up for sale. Jaeger-LeCoultre is the most recent brand venturing into this space, as it unveils its “The Collectibles” series of fully restored vintage watches now for sale by the brand.
The first Capsule Collection of The Collectibles consists of 17 wristwatches that range in age from the 1920’s to the 1970’s (an era often considered the golden age of watchmaking). For this first series, the experts from the Heritage Team at Jaeger-LeCoultre sought out the best possible timepieces and then the brand’s experts in its Le Sentier, Switzerland, workshops restored them as closely as possible to their original form. Each watch has been fully vetted by the brand’s 10 experts and the restoration team follows the archival blueprint for every piece ever made. In some instances, the watches house original spore components, while in other instances, new identical components are made in house from scratch. Cases and dials are polished and finished minimally so as not to alter the historic nature of the watch – something collectors appreciate, as it helps the timepiece hold its value.
The watches in the carefully curated initial offering, which are for sale via Jaeger-LeCoultre’s e-commerce site and during traveling exhibits of the capsule collection, include men’s and women’s pieces that range from sporty to classic to incredibly daring for their era.
The Collectibles program, geared to offer watch lovers a rare piece of history, is unveiled as part of the brand’s 190thanniversary (Jaeger-LeCoultre was founded in the Valle’e de Joux in 1833) – but will be an ongoing collection. The capsule collection includes 19 pieces including a diamond-set 1932 DuoPlan, a 1933 red-dial Reverso, a 1946 Triple Calendar, a 1957 Futurematic, a 1963 Geomatic, a 1958 Memovox Parking, a 1968 Master Mariner Deep Sea, a 1970 Memovox Polaris II with bright blue dial and bezel, a 1972 Memovox Speed Beat GT and more.
Each watch is sold with a complete description taken from the brand’s archives. Additionally, when available, the original box, papers, strap or bracelet is included. The restored watch is sold on a new strap and with a copy of the coffee-table book.
The new coffee-table book, entitled The Collectibles, takes a close look at the watchmaking period from 1925 through 1974 and puts emphasis on the 17 most important models made by the brand during that time frame. A full chapter is devoted to each of the 17 watches that comprise the first The Collectibles capsule collection.
It is worth noting that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s sister brand, Vacheron Constantin, implemented a restored vintage collection several years ago and it has become a hot prospect for collectors. Which brands are up next?
(Portions of this article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.)