Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Full Steel Master Control Calendar
The increased sportiness and versatility of the Master Control Calendar in full steel mode.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control Calendar broke rank with the past and appeared in an all-steel version two months ago. As the brand’s classical, slightly vintage branch, the Master Control family combines technical rigour with aesthetics inspired by the round timepieces made by the brand in the 1950s. Equipped with an interchangeable stainless steel bracelet and a sober silver dial, the Master Control Calendar in steel is sportier, more contemporary and far more versatile than the leather strap options.
Earlier this year, we covered the blue dial model of the Master Control Calendar, a limited edition to mark the 30th anniversary of the Master Control line. As you no doubt recall, the particularity of JLC’s triple calendar is the jumping date that performs a leap from the 15th to the 16th of each month to ensure the moon phase display is not obscured. However, and apologies to those of you who love blue dials, the watch is a case study in blue. With blue backgrounds for the apertures corresponding to the day of the week, month, moon phase and small seconds, the dial and matching blue calfskin strap are inundated with blue. The result is a classic, elegant calendar dress watch with limited versatility and, dare I say, limited legibility.
It seems like JLC’s designers were listening because just three months after the blue edition of the Master Control Calendar, the model appeared in full-steel mode with a new stainless steel bracelet fitted with a quick-change system. Sportier, more contemporary, and far more versatile thanks to the interchangeable bracelet, the all-steel Master Control Calendar caught our eye. Released in tandem with a Master Control Chronograph Calendar, the motivation behind the steel models was to “bring the calendar displays and chronograph function more fully into contemporary everyday life, recognising the prominence of active lifestyles”.
The reasonably sized 40mm stainless steel case responds to the design upgrade of 2020 and features a thinner bezel, curved and bevelled lugs and alternating brushed and polished surfaces. With its more complicated movement, the case is slightly thicker with a height of 10.95mm and has threerecessed pushers in the case band. These pushers adjust the calendar and moon phase functions with the special tool provided.
The novelty here is the new stainless steel bracelet with H-style links with brushed middle links and polished external links to match the case finishings. Thanks to a quick-change system, you can select a more formal leather bracelet for workdays (the watch comes with an additional light brown strap in Novonappa calf leather) and pop the steel bracelet for weekends or sportier moments.
Compared to the blue dial, the legibility of the silver sunray-brushed dial is superior. As a watch that is not highlighted with massive amounts of Super-LumiNova, this is an important consideration. Limited to luminous dots on the hours and a thin streak of lume on the dauphine-style hour and minute hands, the silvery dial provides a lighter background to offset the calendar functions, which are highlighted with judicious touches of colour.
The symmetrical layout responds to the design of vintage calendar models. Two bevelled apertures at noon with white backgrounds and blue inscriptions relay the day of the week and month, while the date is pointer-style with numerals on the periphery indicated by a slender, red-lacquered hand. When the red date hand lands on the number 15, it jumps over the words QUANTIEME à DATE SAUTANTE (flanked by two red arrows) printed on the snailed date ring to land on the number 16. Mixing applied rhodium-plated Arabic numerals at 12, 3, and 9 o’clock with faceted dart hour markers gives the dial its distinctive 1950s personality. The small seconds and moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock are slightly recessed, and the starry night sky and small seconds hand are picked out in blue.
The name Master Control refers to the fact that this collection was the first to undergo the brand’s pioneering “1,000 Hour” control certification. The automatic movement of the Master Control Calendar was upgraded in 2020 with silicon parts. JLC’s in-house calibre 866 is directly inspired by the brand’s historical Triple Calendar timepieces but with 21st-century technology. The new barrel design delivers a robust power reserve of 70 hours. A sapphire caseback reveals the openworked gold rotor and the refined finishings of the movement.
The pure, classic silver dial really does catch the 1950s golden age of watchmaking that the Master Control collection so elegantly celebrates. By incorporating a stainless steel bracelet, the Master Control Calendar is free to roam at large, bringing versatility to this classic Calendar model that can be switched back to a leather strap for more formal situations.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar comes with a steel bracelet and an additional leather strap and retails for EUR 15,400.
For more information, please consult jaeger-lecoultre.com.
I have to say, for all the mention of the legibility – or lack thereof – of the blue-dialed version of this watch, as someone that owned the previous version of the Master Calendar, with the same silver dial & hands, the legibility of that was so bad that it’s the primary reason I ‘used to own’ one.
It’s a shame, because it should be a wonderful watch – the detail and finishing, especially for the price point, is exquisite, but I just couldn’t make out the time with a quick glance; I’d have to make a deliberate action of focusing on the face to distinguish the hands from the dial.
If JLC would just make this with a white dial, rather than silver – or even with gold hands and markers, like on the gold-cased version of this watch, it would probably be the best sub-$20k full calendar watch on the market, by some margin.
Jaeger is a brand that I really like. It has magnificent calibers and they are knowing how to reposition the brand well. But Rebecca, I personally prefer this model with a leather strap.
Really interesting read, particularly as I have owned both pieces. Firstly the silver face on the Novanappa strap and now the blue faced version. I have to disagree with on the legibility of both. I actually sold the first earlier this year as I couldn’t read the time. The mirror hands are (IMO) very hard to read against the silver face, and with great sadness we parted company.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago and I took possession of the new limited edition blue face, which to me is far easier to read, as are the day and month. What I really wanted was to put the blue on the new steel bracelet, which JLC Boutique London kindly assisted with (for an additional cost) . I understand from them that this customisation has been very popular with customers of the blue face.
I am lucky enough to have several blue face watches and this is right up there with some very big hitters.
Great watch and great article.
I’m a little confused why you mention the silver dial as more legible than the blue dial, which has a contrasting color to the polished silver hands?
Honestly, was that a typo?