Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

True to its nature, SIHH is not exactly a touchpoint for those who love a simple steel sport watch. But surprises do happen, and among a sea of tourbillons, a handful of grande sonneries, and enough precious metal to underwrite a small ground war, Jaeger-LeCoultre pulled a fast one and dropped a trio of steel Master models that quickly became a highlight of the show. With a crisp but romantic design and a complication for nearly any taste, the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic, and Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph prove that JLC hasn't lost any of their signature range.

The 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master trio all bear roughly the same sector dial design, skeletonised baton hands, and black markers with light blue accents. The Master Date and Geographic are 39mm wide while the Master Chronograph is 40mm. All three are in steel, with sapphire crystals, in-house automatic movements, and 50 meters of water resistance.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Organized by most accessibly priced, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date (reference 1548530) is a charmer. With a simple but detailed two-tone dial, the outer element is brushed while the inner circle is grained, and the effect is lovely. The sector markings are black and the date display uses a white date wheel with bright blue numerals. The hands, as with all three models, are a skeletonised baton style that appears black in person but shows as blued steel on JLC’s website.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Mater Control Date's 39mm-wide case is just 8.5mm thick, thanks to the slim JLC 899/1 automatic movement within. The 899/1 is a 4Hz movement with a 38-hour power reserve provided by a single barrel. On wrist, the Date is easy-wearing and beautiful, with a slim profile and excellent legibility. If you want an everyday watch with a distinctive yet vintage charm, this is about as good as any I can think of.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Next up is the fan favorite Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph (ref 1538530), with a 40mm steel case and two-register chronograph layout. This 12-hour chronograph has a 30-minute sub dial and no date. The balance of this dial design is not to be understated and of the three new models, the chronograph really puts the blue accents to best use. The outer tachymetre scale and the chronograph scales are all rendered in this cool, saturated light blue. Combined with the stark legibility of the black accents and the baton hands, the blue manages to add a youthful flare to the design.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The overall look is certainly vintage-inspired, but much like some of the new-vintage designs for the Reverso, these sector dial models stand on their own and the chronograph has a mass appeal that is hard to argue with. Powered by JLC’s automatic 751G, this 4Hz column wheel chronograph movement sports two barrels to offer a power reserve of 65 hours.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Last but certainly not least, we find my favorite of the sector dial trio, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic (ref 1428530). It is 39mm wide and rocking JLC’s signature Geographic GMT complication, the Master Geographic displays two time zones (along with AM/PM in the away zone). The second timezone is selected using a city disc at six and the crown at 10. If you have ever used this complication you’ll know it's a practical and easy-to-manage GMT function that borrows just enough from a world timer to be more than your casual GMT.

The dial layout is more asymmetrical (with the offset am/pm indication), but I think this is the coolest of the three models. The sector dial blends nicely with the complication, and I think the GMT is just the perfect functionality for a well-rounded everyday watch. The other plus with the Geographic complication is that it works both when changing time zones for travel, or checking other time zones when connecting with colleagues or friends.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Those that know JLC’s offerings know that they have a lot of beautifully made watches under $10,000. So, while the price point of these sector dial versions is appealing (especially against the backdrop of SIHH), the real success here is the accessible sizing and the designs that are both beautiful and distinctive among their siblings. While I'm sure that some will take umbrage with the lack of lume or the highly vintage-inspired hand selection, the design works so well when viewed as a whole.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Geographic, & Master Chronograph Steel Watches Hands-On Hands-On

If you’re hunting in the $5,000 to $10,000 range and are looking for an everyday watch from a fantastic brand with a distinctive yet vintage charm, any one of these three will fit the bill. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date will retail for a price of $5,700 USD, with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph selling for $8,000, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic claiming $9400. Slim pickings or not, these sector dial Master models from JLC were easily some of my favorite new models shown at SIHH and will likely prove to be very popular in the coming months. jaeger-lecoultre.com

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (67)
  • I want it! (45)
  • Classy (19)
  • Interesting (13)
  • I love it! (8)
  • ianLJY

    I was really really really a huge fan of JLC, but my experience with the brand went straight to hell right after my purchase…

    I purchased an JLC ultra thin mid last year from a friend who works in a well reputed AD, and later noticed the dial was defect with a stain / mark. I left messages in JLC fb but nobody ever get back to me after months.

    So i brought it to the JLC boutique / service centre, the staff was quick to acknowledge it as a manufacture defect, however they went on to accuse me of purchasing a defect piece knowingly for discounted price which i absolutely did not! and they also called up my friend to threaten his job.

    After much argument, the manager called me personally and said would refinish the watch to meet JLC’s “standard” and they took in the watch for servicing. a Month or so later, they returned the watch with bubbles, dust and HAIRs in the crystal and dial, and there is also a huge deep scratch on the case.

    Then they took in the watch again promised to get back to me within a week, now a week has passed, they no longer respond to me, now the watch is still with them…

    and BTW, the girl from the service centre also said i am “not the only one facing quality issues with JLC, there are other similar cases too”. can you imagine this sentence coming out from a JLC employee…

    in all fairness, spend your money elsewhere.. really..

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d7f7661230dcc20c3070bf9efcc9be8e2b8e36cb53f8f8d1eb4ac7e83f259204.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca54d313f219afcd209404aa3dc19260c1c7c75a914660ec3478deb5902b4c5a.jpg

    • IG

      You are too picky, some pubic hair in the watch gives it character, a personal touch from the watchmaker.

      • ianLJY

        very funny… would you wish yours to have some? i certainly don’t ..

        • IG

          My watches are hairier than a Turkish MILF.

          • Word Merchant

            Possibly the best comeback on the internet.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        When I used to work for a movement maufacturer I scratched (veery slightly) my initials under a bridge. Some Cartier- and Paneraiowners can be very proud to have such a masterpiece.

    • Marius

      If you had bought a X?zo Air Commando D-45R, or a Gentlemen Warfare, or a Janis Trading instead, such things would have never happened. I guarantee it!

  • IG

    Times Roman and Helvetica, what is this, a Word document? The post-2004 JLC dial typography makes me vomit.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      At least they have just two fonts on the dial. Some Rolexes have more text than the phonebook of Tokyo and up to 3-5 fonts. Look at the new Airking.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      Helvetica is perfect for a Swiss watch. Because of unknown reasons I associate these watches with Max Frischs Homo Faber. Clean and bold, but still artisticaly pleasing.

      • IG

        Helvetica is fine but together with Times Roman it screams Windows/Office. (Yeah I know that Microscum used Arial, a bastardised Helvetica in Winblows.)

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Super boring™

    *Clank

    • BILL*

      Into the borin’ sporran!

      • Raymond Wilkie

        And quite deservedly. What a plain looking watch.

  • A_watches

    Not my cup of tea

  • Word Merchant

    I’ve got one of the original Master Geographics – a bit small for me now – but compared to that, these watches look tired, uninspired and messy. JLC on a downward spiral I think.

  • SuperStrapper

    Snoozers, really. Love that they did so much with steel, but there’s hardly much here to get excited about. The chronograph is the best of the inch, but the flat dial is a disappointment .

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Why no love for these beauties? All of them will become timeless classics, what they already are. After Cartiers Drive, this is one of my favourite collection. Even the Memovox was hated. Can’t understand.

    • Marius

      I also don’t understand why people are complaining. These are high-quality watches offered at very reasonable prices. Most watches in the $5,000-$8,000 range are clearly surpassed by these JLCs in terms of brand prestige, quality, and movements used. The fact that they have a classic design is a big plus because they will never look dated. I really don’t see what super interesting and highly innovative watches one could buy for $5,000-$8,000.

      • SuperStrapper

        How are these super interesting or highly innovative? I would agree that these designs will stand a lengthy test of time (pun intended) but does that mean the purchase reason today is that they’ll still be wearable in 20 years? So will any of the watches in your other post. Well, not the shelby thing.

        • Marius

          Actually, I am not arguing that these JLCs are super interesting and innovative. What I was trying to say is that in the $5,000-$8,000 range, most prestigious brands will offer you classical and traditional designs. You can’t expect to find a super interesting and innovative watch for $6,000. As a result, these JLCs offer a very good combination: great brand name + quality dials & cases + very good in-house movements + reasonable prices. Sure, they don’t have an exciting new design, but at this price range you can’t really expect one.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Their are many examples of watches in the $6,000 range that are way more interesting and innovative than this ,……….just saying,…..moving on…..

          • SuperStrapper

            Ray, let’s have some examples. Just interested in others’ opinions on innovation.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Innovation isn’t just about the movement of a watch ,in this instance my comments were more for the design side of the watch.

          • SuperStrapper

            Mine were too, Ray, if you read my post. I’m asking you for examples of what you feel are innovative designs on quality watches. Wether they would be considered competition to these or not.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Sorry, i was out and HATE typing on my phone, the bloody keys are too small, a sentences can take up to 10 minutes.
            Ok let me give you my top 5 watches. Some cheap some dear ( expensive ), but each are, in my view are super stylish and in their own way innovative …….at the time of release ……….. ( see how i covered my ass their ? )……………
            1……Cartier Santos 100 ( steel black strap ) Design classic
            2……RW Smith………enough said.
            3…….Mondaine…….40mm black strap ( Simplistically beautiful )
            4……Rolex oyster…..much copied but never beaten.
            5……Martin Braun EOS…….Choose anyone.

          • SuperStrapper

            Interesting pick with Martin Braun. I’m a big fan of the EoT.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Beautiful moment with hands so fine and delicate.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            What were you going to say ?

          • Marius

            I’m sorry, but if you are talking about prestigious brands that use quality in-house movements, then I seriously doubt that you can find better watches than the $5,700 JLC Master Control Date.

            At the $5,700 price point, brands such as Breitling, IWC, Bremont, Hublot, or Ulysse Nardin offer only ETA/Sellita-based watches. Bulgari and Cartier do offer in-house movements, but at a slightly higher price, and these calibers can’t match the JLC movements in terms of finish & decoration.

            Rolex and Omega are among the only brands that offer in-house movements at this price. However, keep in mind that their entry level watches i.e. Omega DeVille/Aquaterra, or Rolex Oyster Perpetual/Air King cost around $6,500. What’s more, these watches are mass produced (800,000-1,000,000 watches/year), and their overall quality level is inferior to JLC.

            In my opinion, the only interesting brand at the $5,700 price is Habring2. The Habring2 Erwin with the in-house jumping seconds movement costs around $6,000. However, from a prestige perspective, Habring is a rather unknown brand.

          • SuperStrapper

            I don’t see why not. Maybe purely technical innovation is harder to achieve at this sticker range, but aesthetically JLC is obviously an established shop that wouldn’t need to go out and do a lot of spending to get creative.

            Now, I don’t assume this was them trying to say ‘look how creative we area’ and failing, but it would go a long way to just breathe a little more life into these. Even something as subtle as applied indices would sharpen them up considerably.

          • Timestandsstill

            Exactly! …..the applied indices would have been JUST enough more to make me a little excited about these

  • Marius

    Although the sector dials have a very attractive design, they are printed, so they look rather flat. I like the standard dials with the applied indexes much better, since they have more depth.

    Nevertheless, from a value perspective, these are fabulous watches. They might look boring in the pictures, but if you handle them in person you can immediately feel and see their quality. The cases are of a very good quality; the movements are top notch; and as Sheez Gagoo rightly mentioned, the design is a timeless classic that will always look good. Let’s be honest, are Rolex, IWC, Breitling, Blancpain, Omega that much more interesting? I don’t think so. Pretty much all prestigious brands use the same design that they have been using for the past 30-50 years. It’s not like the Datejust, the Navitimer, or the Royal Oak are some super fresh designs.

    Furthermore, at these prices, JLC doesn’t really have any competition. What other higher-end brand has similar offerings? For instance, a time only IWC Da Vinci using a Sellita caliber costs $6,500. An entry level Rolex Oyster Perpetual/Air King costs over $6,000. A Baume&Mercier Clifton Shelby Chronograp using some third part movement cost $8,000, and IWC and Blancpain in house chronographs are all over $12,000. If you want a sub $10,000 high quality watch from a highly respected brand, and that you can use for the rest of your life, these watches are almost impossible to beat.

  • TrevorXM

    Beautiful. Unpretentious yet exuding easy class. Sober and purposeful. Timeless.

  • DanW94

    The clinical color palette along with the sector dial and that dull, lifeless number font leave these with zero personality and character. The only thing that remotely saves them is the splash of blue. Maybe they’re different in the metal but that’s how they come across in photos, to me at least.

  • BNABOD

    polished bezel yikes, here comes scratches.
    the hands, no no no and no. shame because the size is good and price is dare I say reasonable.

  • BrJean

    These dials are so flat when I see it I thought these were smartwatches!

  • ??????

    Surprised by so much critics on these. Yes, they look classy in a kinda boring way, but, in my opinion, succeed at it and offer an exellent value/price. High-end manufacture watch at >6k MSRP, with a rock solid inhouse caliber, superb casework – is it common? I don’t think so. I tend to believe that JLC are among the most reasonably priced high end watches.

    • SuperStrapper

      The time-only iteration here is the worst value proposition as far as I’m concerned. It is nice, but I wouldn’t call it high end, and while it might be an ‘in-house’ movement, but there is nothing special about it. It doesn’t even offer a power reserve to compete with off-the-shelf movement that we would otherwise be complaining about. For a $6k steel watch that is a simple 3-hander, they could have at least offered up something to talk about, like hi-beat or the ability to take it off for a weekend and it still be running on Monday.

      • ??????

        I think it isn’t a kind of a watch to impress your friends or people around. For me, it has just enough personality: the dial is subtle and the finish looks top notch. I believe, its a kind of a watch you have to try on / wear a bit to see the personality. Anyway, I like the chronograph version even more than 3-hander and GMT.

        • SuperStrapper

          I think the chronograph is the best of the bunch as well, and I think pretty much any watch should be tried on before buying. I don’t assume these are meant to impress those around you, but as the owner/wearer I wouldn’t mind being impressed…

      • G Street

        Exactly. It is the meagre power reserve that really frustrates me with this offering, I like the dial, I like the look through the case back but would 70 + hours of PR been that hard to achieve? I bought a sistem 51 for fun that boasts that…

        • ??????

          Don’t forget that 899 is a pretty thin caliber: only 3.3 mm (!!) with rotor. Isn’t it special for automatic? And each caliber passes JLC strict inhouse test – 1000 hours, -1 / +6 s, not talking about the finish.
          P.S. Real life reserve is more ~44 hours btw

    • Ariel Adams

      I get what Jaeger-LeCoultre was doing with these Master Control watches and applaud them for exploring less expensive watches. With that said I too felt a bit underwhelmed by them. Many people really loved these timepieces and technically they are fine. With that said, these aren’t what I as a JLC fan wanted to see that was new. My interests with the watches yearn for well-priced daily elegance, or durable and technically interesting sport watches with (as you said) some very distinct personality. Especially when it comes to the latter this new collection left me wanting – and I do say this as someone who has enormous respect for the brand.

      • ??????

        I believe that many well respected brands such as JLC have both conservative and “full of character” lines. These models belong to a more conservative, vintage-inspired direction IMO, and represent it actually well. Those skeletone hands, sector dials, two tone dial finish, cases with combination of polished and brushed surfaces – it all adds just enough style for such kind of classical conservative watches. But I guess you have already tried them on and your opinion must be more well grounded than mine.

        • Ariel Adams

          I did put them on, and agree that if you are a lover of subtle, classic watches you could like these. With that said, I like a bit more visual interest and controversy in my watches. I personally don’t entirely get the point of spending luxury watch dollars and a watch that doesn’t speak loudly and is merely a good emulation of something from the past, which back then wasn’t positioned as a luxury timepieces in the way watches are today. I also have a personal pet peeve against most skeletonized hour and minute hands as they typically tend to destroy legibility, and don’t seem to offer anything in exchange.

          • ??????

            Agree on skeletonized hand: never liked them before and tried to avoid as a plague. Surprisingly, I feel they compliment these JLC models quite well and are balanced by sector dials.

  • Shawn Lavigne

    very nice.

  • Berndt Norten

    RIP. George the Animal Steele

    • DanW94

      He was a true original, not to mention probably the hairiest guy to step in the ring…..

      • Berndt Norten

        And what a gentleman. Sure, in the ring he was all Warfare. But he was an articulate and friendly man. See it all on YouTube

  • ProJ

    Meh…

    I guess they are not for me, no matter how ‘highly finished’ they are, to my eyes they don’t have any personality. Perhaps that’s due to the dial design being too industrial and/or too flat.

  • All hail the sector dial!

  • bbfrid

    Just beautiful!

    Don’t like the strap, though.

  • Jonathan

    What is the lug width on the master date model and do they have a buckle or clasp for the strap?

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I love them. I should imagine many people wouldn’t like the too obvious vintage-y styling. But for me, the size, colours, steel work, it all hangs together well… Stealth taste.

  • GalaxyGuy

    I do like these quite a bit, and am particularly enamored of the chronograph. For me, everything works well with this watch. Too bad I already have a sector dial watch. I wonder if my wife would notice if I got a second one…

  • HectorAsuipe

    So close, but so far. The printed dial, polished bezel, poor power reserve (of the time-only model), high cost and awkwardness of the GMT, they just don’t quite do it.

    Look at the GO Sixties if you want a competitor and tell me you wouldn’t opt for one of those instead. The chronograph is almost compelling, but against the Zenith Elite? And I’d go for a Rolex GMT Master II any day over these.

    While the strap looks nice, a bracelet option would be cool, except that we all know how JLC does with bracelets.

    • Spangles

      There is a bracelet option for the same-sized previous version of the MC date. JLC just rolled out new bracelets for some of their models. A call to the JLC boutique and you can see what bracelet options for these models are available.

  • Ulysses31

    The blandness is stifling. I don’t like the use of serif-typeface for the printed numerals.

  • Spangles

    These are the kind of watches that a man can wear to work: They are classic, classy, and understated. Really perfect for an enjoyable, thin, piece of real watchmaking that doesn’t attract negative attention from others, but only adds to one’s own professional look.

  • They are missing a bit of “dimensionality” on the dials. I guess that would have driven the price up, just wonder by how much.

  • Dénes Albert

    Judging by the pictures, you must have had these watches at hand. Could you please give us thickness measurements? Thank you.

  • cluedog12

    Nice photos, James.

    Nice watches, JLC. The marketplace is a bit rich in classically-styled watches. Had these come along five years ago, I’d have been super-excited. Now it’s just another nice option.