Earlier this year, during the digital presentation of Watches & Wonders, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled a refreshed take on its Master Control collection. Among the four watches representing the updated 2020 design features is the Master Control Chronograph Calendar, a captivating combination of complications that immediately caught our eye. Equipped with a column-wheel chronograph and triple calendar display with moon phases, the Master Control Chronograph Calendar marks the first time JLC concocts this mix of complications. With its refined whiff of the 1950s without being a vintage throwback, this beautiful Master Control Chronograph Calendar is fitted with a new automatic in-house movement. Let’s take a closer look at this compelling combo of complications.
Introduced in 1992, the defining spirit of the Master Control collection is the combination of technical rigour with stylistic restraint drawing on inspiration from classic round timepieces made by JLC in the 1950s. The name Master Control refers to the fact that it was the first collection to undergo the brand’s “1000 Hours Control” certification, which tests the cased-up watch and comes with an eight-year warranty. The Master Control family includes classics like the Memovox alarm watch and the Sector dial models, including the Master Control Geographic.
A tight ship
The redesigned case is more streamlined and more contemporary. The outward sloping bezel is thinner for an expansive view of the dial, and the lugs are ergonomically curved for a comfortable fit. To emphasise the sharper, tighter lines of the case, the casebands are brushed while the bezel, the front side of the lugs and the pushers are polished. The Master Control Chronograph Calendar measures 40mm and has a height of 12.05mm. Despite its elegant 1950s aura, these are not vintage proportions – but compact enough for most wrists. The overall look and feel of the case, its 50m water-resistance and informal Novonappa leather strap signal that this is a watch designed for everyday enjoyment.
The marriage of a chronograph and a triple calendar means there is a lot of information to relay on the dial. As you can appreciate, the layout of the different elements on the silvery-white sunray dial is highly intuitive, legible and harmonious. Starting from the flange is the pulsometer scale followed by the minutes/seconds track and the applied triangular indices. The 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock is balanced by the running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock, while the date and moon phase counter at 6 o’clock is balanced by the day and month apertures above.
What is surprising though is the subtlety and almost ethereal nature of the dial. Nothing is strident, nothing is heavy-handed, and everything seems to have been executed with the lightest of touches to produce a dial of great beauty. The snailed flange and counters, the sharp faceted indices and hands, the perfectly proportioned Arabic numerals inside the counters, the deft touches of red and blue, the discreet application of luminous dots along with the thin stripe of lume running down the hour and minute hands… In short, an impeccable orchestration of details and decoration. The only problem I can find with the dial is the highly polished finish on the hour and minute hands that can hamper legibility.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmakers at the manufacture in the Vallée de Joux had to develop a new automatic movement to power the brand’s first chronograph and triple calendar with moon phases. The Calibre 759 is based on the existing calibre 751 and features an integrated column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch and a complete calendar and moon phases. Beating at a frequency of 28,800vph, the 356-part movement has a silicon escapement and can store up to 65 hours of power. Agreeably decorated with thick Geneva stripes and an openworked rotor, you can admire the movement from the sapphire crystal caseback.
The surprising aspect of this watch is that it looks as though it has been in JLC’s collection forever; or at the very least, since the 1950s. It is so at home and comfortable in its skin that you wonder how it took JLC so long to marry these two iconic complications. The subtle, understated elegance of the dial and the renovated case are a masterly lesson in design without being fussy or pretentious. The steel case is beautifully finished yet casual, and the dial won’t tire you after years and years of daily enjoyment.
Availability & price
The relaxed personality of the watch is underscored by the soft, matte calfskin Novonappa strap. If this is not your cup of tea, you can easily change it for a more elegant alligator leather strap using the easy Presto Spring lug attachment. The Master Control Chronograph Calendar is not limited and retails for EUR 15,000, and is now available from retailers and JLC’s online boutique.
More information at Jaeger-LeCoultre.