February 19, 2014
by Ariel Adams
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.
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.