Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands-On

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands On   hands on

For 2014, we get a new Jaeger-LeCoultre watch with the famed Caliber 876SQ movement. The existing movement has been executed in a new way for the Master Grande Tradition à Quantième Perpétuel 8 jours SQ limited edition that, according to Jaeger-LeCoultre, is inspired by a grand complication pocket watch made in 1928. A lovely piece, the new watch combines enameling and engraving in addition to the highly complicated movement.

The Caliber 876 family of movements has seen a lot of life in various models since its debut in 2004. On the lower end you can find the standard version of the 876 (non skeletonized) in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Eight Days Perpetual 40 watch that retails for just $24,200. In its 876SQ ("SQ" stands for "squelette," or "skeleton" in English) form, that price has gone up to more than $100,000 in models such as the Master Control Eight Days Perpetual SQ. This new model, however, exists in the Master Tradition family, so I expect the price to be even higher given the extra addition of artistic techniques.

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands On   hands on

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands On   hands on

Oddly enough, I've always felt that the Caliber 876 looks better in skeletonized versus non-skeletonized form. The indicators are useful, but not always highly attractive on traditional dial. In this form on the Master Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ you have a pleasing symmetrical quality to the dial and the assortment of hand-engravings on the movement bridges give it a wonderful timeless appeal. Let's discuss more about this rather complicated movement before exploring the timepiece's aesthetic virtues.

The in-house made Caliber 876SQ starts with a long power reserve of eight days between two mainspring barrels and contains a relatively efficient 260 parts. It also operates at a modern frequency of 28,800 (4Hz). We mention this because in our opinion most mechanical movements today should operate at 4Hz or more. Many try to get away with a lower frequency and in some instances that is OK. Having a specialized or intentionally "vintage" movement can make a slower frequency make sense. Having said that, 4Hz is the frequency you get out of standard ETA movements, and luxury watchmakers should always strive to offer this rate or faster, which tends to equate to movements that are more accurate over time. Brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre understand this as do others, but I still feel that it needs to become more of a priority a high-end maisons who keep telling us how innovative and advanced they are.

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ Watch Hands On   hands on

28 comments
D S Vilhena
D S Vilhena

Adding more controversy here: I'm not a fan of skeletonized watches, I never read reviews on them, but this one has caught my eyes! 

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

Guys, With all the discussion below on skeletonization and to further highlight why chromatic contrast is so germane to such an artful process (which was lacking in the JLC reviewed), please indulge in the below hypnotizing Chronoswiss Zeitzeichen. This series was launched as a 2009 collaboration between Chronoswiss founder Gerd Rudiger Lang (before selling the company to Oliver Ebstein in 2012) and Jochen Benzinger who is a demi-god in his own right. 33 pieces of each of the three below (unfortunately I own none).

This work to me represents the pinnacle of the art of skeletonization


http://www.watchtime.com/wristwatch-industry-news/watches/zeitzeichen-engraved-invitations-from-chronoswiss/

ENJOY



Abu Rose
Abu Rose

With all due respect to a prestigious brand like JLC, their “Master Grande Tradition a Quantieme Perpetuel 8 Jours SQ” suffers from both nomenclature and calendric complication syndromes. I agree with both MarkCarson and Ulysses31 regarding their cold aesthetic assessment of the watch, and I believe at $100-150K JLC should have delivered a better horological creation.

I will try below to detail the several Faux Pas that JLC made with this watch.

1.Lack of dial symmetry (pardon me Ariel but I beg to differ): The lack of symmetry is caused by the power reserve semilunar subdial fighting for a position against the AM/PM display, where both look like they had lost their way in the battle “sometime” between 10 and 1 o’clock. How many of us live in the North or South Poles and need to know our days from our nights? Just look out the @#$%^ window.

2.Death by complications: The year display is placed at a lower dimension sinistram of the month subdial, and shows only the last 2 numbers of the year (14 for 2014 in the watch photographed). This complication is unnecessary, and looks totally out of place, unattractive, cheap, and almost prototype-like. More importantly, I am no Scott Bakula so I really do not need to know what year I have landed after my new Quantum Leap. In addition, who needs to know the position of the moon from the Northern hemisphere? As someone put it, the moon phase is "never a complication of necessity".

3.Contrast starvation: The dial of the awkwardly and complexly named JLC suffers from contrast starvation. The beautiful skeletonization would be appreciated much more on a backdrop of contrasting colors; white gold on yellow/pink gold and vice versa. Imagine on this exact wristwatch if few pieces skeletonized were in gold. I guess no one from JLC consulted master skeletonizer Jochen Benzinger.

4.Seconds hand omission: I might have missed it even after careful looking, but I do not see an easily discernible and legible seconds hand on this watch, which I think would have been a nice touch.

5.Inscription of JLC on the inside of crystal: I always considered inscription of the watch brand on the inside of the sapphirecrystal a travesty. Look at the tasteful names displayed by Jochen Benzinger in his creation for Chronoswiss. http://watchshock.com/blog/185/chronoswiss-and-jochen-benzinger-zeitzeichen-watches/ Yes, the JLC has many complications, but they could have found a place for their name somewhere if they were smarter with the number and sizes of the subdials.

All of the above Faux Pas can be very easily and quickly appreciated by comparing the 2014 JLC to the marvelous looking 1928 JLC pocket watch. The latter has is all; symmetry, functional complications and contrast. If I am the “watch finalizer”, which is a self-invented superhero, my homage JLC wristwatch will have the same subdials of the pocket watch, removing some of the verbal clutter on the month subdial, and add the modern beautiful skeletonization but also ensure vibrant contrast. On yellow/pink gold cases, the dial skeletonization would be in white gold and the moon/sun colors would match the gold case color. On white gold cases, the dial skeletonization would be mostly in gold. Finally, I would like to have a legible “seconds” hand and replace the “celestial” rim with another showing the traditional 60 seconds, again like the one pictured in the elegant and timeless JLC pocket watch. Oh, and you want to skeletonize? Better call Jochen not Saul ;-)

spiceballs
spiceballs

Its attractive to my eyes but there are others that I would prefer if I (also) won a large sum lottery.  So I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek comment "just $24,600" for an alternate.

emenezes
emenezes

I still expect a watch to be an instrument that measures time, so legibility should not be sacrificed.  While I appreciate the beauty of the movement of this watch, had it at least a circular scale with the same radius as the hour hand joining the several dials the legibility would be much improved while keeping the skeletonized theme somewhat and integrate harmoniously with the other dials, which have circular scales as well.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

It's a strange looking beast.  On the one hand the skeletonisation is quite appealing, especially on the movement.  On the other, we have big fat sub-dials that obscure much of that, and without any effort made to integrate them into the rest of the design.  The lettering and numbering is also large and makes the sub-dials look crowded.  As for that weird ring which for some inexplicable reason appears on the back as well as the front - it looks like a cheap sticker or transfer regardless of what it is made of.  Anything made by JLC should not evoke that word.  Finally, no branding on the dial?  How is one to tell this apart from any number of Chinese generic skeleton watches?  Maybe that sounds harsh but combine the unsettling looks and weird design choices and you get an impression of confused design that is typically what you see with "copy cat" brands from Asia.

MKRoma
MKRoma

Looks like a Chronoswiss Chronograph Skeleton.  Nothing special. 

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

The enameled outer ring is maybe the most curious part - up close, and if the light is right, it appears to have an almost engine-turned application. I'd like to know more about that, it is an interesting and unique way of displaying the enamel. 

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

How can something be beautifully executed and still rather unappealing as a whole? I want to be excited by the dial side of this  watch, but it does not  speak to me. I fancy the back side more. Maybe its the starkness of the hour markers in contrast to the almost baroque skeleton work. Can't quite put my finger on it, but something does not gell on this one (for me anyway). But I love it from a technical perspective and hate it from a bank account flattening perspective.

Maybe its just one of those watches that only excites you in person.

Gabechambers
Gabechambers

Wow - beautiful

Normally not really a huge fan of bourgeoismobiles such as this but this is just exceptional.

Wouldn't sell my house to buy it but if I won the lottery would seriously consider!

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@Abu Rose 1) The subdials may be asymmetrical in the sense that there two subdials at the 12 o'clock position versus the one subdial at the six o'clock position. But from where I sit, it looks well-balanced. This  asymmetry actually gives the watch even more appeal. Symmetry for symmetry's sake is just plain boring. 

2) About the year subdial: Well, it is a perpetual calendar, Abu. It is supposed to be there. Enough said.

3) About the lack of a seconds hand: Who cares? Given this is a perpetual calendar, which means you are looking at time over a period of years -- the long view, as one would say -- the seconds hand could easily be considered a distraction. I would agree with you on the need for a seconds hand if this were a chronograph or even a dress watch. But a perpetual calendar isn't exactly used for auto racing, is it? 


4) As far as I'm concerned, there is plenty enough contrast for legibility's sake. Based on the pictures, I can read the dial and subdials easily. It may not be to your taste. But to each their own.

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Abu RoseThe only counter point I will make is that a perpetual calendar watch needs some indication of year so you get the correct day of the month advancement at the end of February. I find the year indicator on this watch subtle enough. But when I first looked at it I saw "69" before I saw "14". So perhaps they could have put something (even a smoked sapphire) over the year number inside of the sub-dial at 6.

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@emenezes It's quite legible to me. In fact, at this point in one's life, given that one has seen plenty of watches and clocks (and knows where the minutes would be if fully marked), I would say the watch is actually far more legible than a Movado or even some of the high-priced sports watches we see. All in all, JLC offers up another beauty.

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@Ulysses31 If you look closely, the branding is on the crystal; it is also directly on the back of the watch as well. The fact you can't see it easily is more an issue of poor photography than anything done by JLC.


As far as confused design: I think it is quite well balanced, especially given JLC's goal of skeletonizing a complication. And as someone who likes Chinese watches, I give JLC credit for taking on something that the Chinese really do better than the Swiss: Skeletonizing a watch with numerous complications. The design is only "strange" to you because you prefer the Swiss approach. It's hardly strange or unappealing to me.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

@MarkCarson  Thanks for that. I wanted to say the same thing but didn't want to be 'that guy' that doesn't wet his pants just because it's JLC. 

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

@MarkCarson @Abu RoseMark, end of February adjustment is for watches with annual calendar complication, while watches with perpetual calender complication need adjustment only in 2100, so in this particular watch I personally think it is a display that just adds clutter.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@Sevenmack @Ulysses31 Don't make assumptions.  I rarely like the Swiss approach to most things, and am usually a supporter of non-Swiss watch makers.  This, to me, is simply an unattractive watch, and part of that is because it looks like the cheaper Chinese skeletonised watches that often come with a poor design.  There are some good ones out there but one simply cannot say that they do it "better" than the Swiss, Germans or Japanese for that matter.  They'll get there, but they're not there yet.  When they choose to focus on quality and aesthetics instead of flooding the market with whatever will sell, I will give them all due credit, and I will welcome the increased competition as it will probably drive down the often over-inflated prices of European manufacturers.  

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Abu Rose So what does your man servant do? Wind your manual wind watches I assume and hand rotate your automatics? Kidding of course...

Cheers

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

@MarkCarson @Abu RoseJust to clarify, I have no watches with perpetual calendar complication and certainly no Doettling. So yes, a proletariat with an extreme passion for watches :-)

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Abu Rose How proletarian (using a winder). Have your man servant do it as one of his daily duties.

Seriously though, yes there are other ways to display it, but there does need to be some indicator for the modulus 4 year number. Personally, I like the 2 digit year display rather than the 1,2,3,4 indicator. But it could be on the back of the watch for all I care.

Abu Rose
Abu Rose

@MarkCarson @Abu RoseMark, as you know, there are other ways to display/track the years in a watch with perpetual calendar other than the un-aesthetic JLC in the watch reviewed. Look for example at the graceful way AP did it in this watch where you have an indicator pointing at year 1/2/3/B (symbol for Leap Year) http://www.audemarspiguet.com/en/watch-collection/jules-audemars/jules-audemars-perpetual-calendar/magnify. Roger Dubuis' RD821J movement has a window at 3 o'clock showing the year 1 through B http://www.rogerdubuis.com/en/collections/la-monegasque/perpetual-calendar/1583-rddbmg0006.html

BTW, don't watches with perpetual calendars come with a certificate about the year they are set in? In any case, if you own a watch with a perpetual calendar, you'd better never let it stop ticking away by either winding it delicately with silken fingers if a manual and if automatic, have it tick away on a Doettling or Buben and Zorweg :-)

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Abu Rose Exactly - if the watch has stopped running, how do you know which of the 4 years it is set in if there is no indication? Meaning the indicator is for setting the watch more so than letting the user know the year (which they should know for gosh sakes).

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@MarkCarson Actually, Mark, five years ago, few folks at Watchuseek did their own comparison of Sea-Gull movements compared to Sellita, ETA and even Hangzhou movements. The conclusion: The base Sea-Gull movement compares quite well to base ETA and Sellita movements. (http://forums.watchuseek.com/f72/how-do-seagull-hangzhou-compare-eta-depth-look-216945.html). This isn't to say that Sea-Gull's high-end movements compare well to ETA's high-end offerings (or even the in-house movements of JLC or other watchmakers). But for those of us who are spending $300 to $2,000 on watches, Sea-Gull's movements are just as good as ETA's for the price. 

I know that this is hard for the Swissophiles to accept, the same way it is hard to accept that Miyota and Seiko movements are on the same par as Swiss movements at every price point. But Sea-Gull's base movements are worthy players on the market. 

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@Ulysses31 I think both the Piaget and the Sonnerie are both lovely watches with their own appeal. But that's because both are just well-designed watches. While I prefer more elaborate decoration -- and actually think, when done well, adds to the overall aesthetic and"purity of form" in a particular watch -- both the Piaget and the Sonnerie are gorgeous without decoration because the lack thereof fits with what the watchmakers set out for those particular watches to be. It wouldn't have worked with the JLC because the elaborate decoration is key to the appeal of the design. 


Which leads to a counter to your statement about "purity of design". Purity of design is a matter to the actual watch itself. This includes: Does its decoration (or lack thereof) fit with what the watchmaker intended; does the form follow its primary function (which can also be a matter of what the watchmaker intended as well as what we as consumers of the watch expect). Just because a watch isn't elaborately decorated doesn't mean it is pure in its design. Same is true if a watch is elaborately designed. 

MarkCarson
MarkCarson

@Sevenmack You said, "while Sea-Gull's base movements are as good as those from ETA and Sellita". Not everyone agrees with that statement. I will concede that Chinese movements are getting better. But I would not put them on parity with ETA/Sellita yet.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@Sevenmack @Ulysses31 Ah, it's clearer to me now what you meant.  I would be inclined to agree that when it comes to elaborate decoration, the Chinese are highly skilled and have been for thousands of years.  When I picture an "attractive" skeletonised watch, I tend to think of something like a Piaget Altiplano, which is almost devoid of decoration but contains a purity of design and quality of finish that I personally find appealing.  The same could be said for a Seiko Sonnerie - again, limited or no decoration.  

Sevenmack
Sevenmack

@Ulysses31 Thank you for clarifying your stance. Again, I disagree on the looks of the watch. I think it is quite appealing and it looks far better than most skeletonized watches (and I'm a fan of skeletonizing, in general). But we will have to agree to disagree; this is a matter of individual tastes, and ours differ on this one. If I had the coin,I'd scoop up this JLC in a heart beat.

As far as the Chinese and skeletonizing? Based on my own experience, including collecting Chinese watches (as well as some Germasian brands), the Chinese are better at skeletonizing than the Swiss or the Germans. The Chinese fully understand that strong engraving and decoration of the movement is key to skeletonizing a watch; the aesthetics of even those Chinese skeletons that are lacking in legibility are still more visually appealing in my view, than Swiss and German approaches. 

This isn't to say that the Chinese don't have a way to go in improving the quality of their watches overall; while Sea-Gull's base movements are as good as those from ETA and Sellita, the dials and bands are often subpar to Swiss and German offerings. But when it comes to skeletonizing, the Chinese are simply better at crafting more visually-appealing offerings than their European counterparts.