Useful functions along with understated elegance combined with remarkable design work: the Master Calendar is in a class of its own. And the new model revealed by the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2013 further accentuates this originality: it possesses all the attributes that have forged the success of the Master Control line, as well as the characteristics of a timepiece that has written some of the finest chapters in watchmaking history. Nonetheless, its enduring appeal shows up in a subtly different interpretation featuring a resized 39 mm-diameter case.
In 1945, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled a calendar watch featuring the kind of pure lines that asserted themselves throughout the latter half of the 20th century. It served as a source of inspiration for all the contemporary Master Calendar models, and continues to appeal to watchmaking enthusiasts with a taste for elegance and precision.
The new Master Calendar is self-evidently loyal to its design philosophy: clear-cut lines, harmoniously arranged indications ensuring instant read-off, traditionally-shaped numerals, applied hour-markers, the Jaeger-LeCoultre signature at 12 o’clock, along with the “AUTOMATIC” inscription at 6 o’clock serving as a visual reminder of the performance of Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 866. Reassured by these similarities, which are a pledge of trustworthiness, the eye of the connoisseur then naturally looks for the subtle differences.
Two of these essential dissimilarities are gradually revealed. On the one hand, the case appears in a slightly smaller 39 mm diameter, designed to adapt to the curve of any wrist. Its harmonious proportions are also largely due to a new element: its 10.6 mm thickness – an authentic horological feat for a case housing an automatic movement with a complete calendar.
After reducing the diameter and the thickness, the engineers made way for the designers who slimmed down the lugs and the bezel so as to further accentuate the elegance of an overall vision in which technical aspects are dedicated to the cause of aesthetic elegance.
The exact order of the useful functions is clearly apparent on the sunburst silver-toned dial: the eye almost instinctively perceives the main indications of the watch, the hours and minutes shown by central dauphine-type hands. The mind can then focus on the additional information provided: the day of the week and the month appearing in two 12 o’clock apertures, and the seconds read off around the rim of a subdial at 6 o’clock. The latter is devoted to displaying the moon phase which, in keeping with tradition, appears to peep out between two clouds and to ascend into the star-studded sky. As the soul revels in these celestial wonders, the gaze naturally sets off to discover a new indication appearing at the far end of a long hand tipped by a crescent moon sweeping gently around the date to which it points on a graduated scale running from 1 to 31 and arranged around the dial circumference.
The Master Calendar comes in two versions: one in pink gold and the other in stainless steel – each framing a silver-toned sunburst dial. The pink gold model is teamed with an alligator leather strap secured by a matching pin buckle, while the alligator strap of the stainless steel version comes with an equally matching folding clasp.
Water-resistant to 5 atmospheres, the case is equipped with a sapphire crystal revealing the movement – Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 866 – featuring components graced with traditional Fine Watchmaking finishes. Once again, the Manufacture has achieved the tour de force of providing a fresh interpretation of perfection. The magic is as potent as ever and the aficionado’s heart beats a little bit faster: the Master Calendar is now more quintessentially horological than ever.