January 10, 2014
by Ariel Adams
Most everything about the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon watch is new, including six of the eight patents protecting the movement, the shape of the case that is inspired by a pocket watch from 1907, as well as the achievement the good people at Jaeger-LeCoultre have reached in regard to minimal case thickness for a grand complication watch. Even the beautiful dauphin-style hands are new. In one fell swoop Jaeger-LeCoultre’s flagship timepiece for 2014 rewrites the formula for the perfect high-end dress watch. This is the type of watch that keeps us interested in horology and is easily a new grail piece for an entire demographic of watch collectors whose hearts have just skipped a beat. Let’s proceed to discussing exactly what is so special about this new ultra-thin automatic minute repeater tourbillon from one of our favorite Swiss watch brands.
Everything about the design of the watch has a purpose, and we realize that unless you are a seasoned watch lover it may be confusing why we are fawning over this new limited edition timepiece. Let’s start by explaining that this is the eleventh installment in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica collection – thus making the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon’s other name the “Hybris Mechanica Eleven” watch. Jaeger-LeCoultre hasn’t always been good about explaining what timepieces fall into the Hybris Mechanica collection, but I suggest you explore the 2009 Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie that was the world’s most complicated watch at the time of its release.
The Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon breaks a different type of record being the world’s thinnest watch that combines automatic winding, a tourbillon, and a minute repeater. The case is just 7.9mm thick, and none of its main features operate in a traditional manner. That means Jaeger-LeCoultre didn’t just cram existing elements into a smaller movement and case size. Rather, they re-imagined and re-engineered the elements for this particular purpose.
The case diameter of the watch is 41mm wide, which is a fantastic size for a dress-style watch with a relatively thin bezel. Anyone who has worn a Jaeger-LeCoutltre Master collection timepiece will immediately recognize that this is going to be a svelte and comfortable-to-wear timepiece. Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to produce this limited edition in 18k white gold. Given the brand’s history, it is possible that the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon will be released in later years as a non-limited edition model in other materials. Another important note for aficionados of the brand is that this is also the first ever ultra-thin grand complication watch that Jaeger-LeCoultre has produced.
Producing an exciting tourbillon is literally no sweat for Jaeger-LeCoultre, and they’ve done it again. This is, after all, the same company who has brought us the Spherotourbillon as well as the Gyrotourbillon collection of super-watches. What Jaeger-LeCoultre recognized several years ago as more and more brands began to release versions of what was at one time a very exclusive mechanism, is that they needed to flex their in-house strength and take the tourbillon to a level no one else could. For sure other brands have also come out with appealing exotic tourbillons, but when it comes to a mixture of focusing on tradition, coolness, and accuracy, Jaeger-LeCoultre is among the best when it comes to producing even more exclusive tourbillon style movements.
So what is special about the tourbillon in the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon? For one thing it is very thin. As a flying tourbillon, it has done something no one else has done before. They have been able to engineer out much of the tourbillon case top and flip over the balance wheel. The vast majority of balance wheels have a hairspring that is located under the oscillating wheel. This watch has succeeded in putting the hairspring on the top. Not only that, but they’ve designed it into a flying tourbillon.
Why is this important? Well this is really more of an aesthetic innovation. It uses a complex system to create an even more visually appealing tourbillon through modern engineering. Tourbillons today are really about showing off a degree of status and prestige in a timepiece, as well as offering collectors something beautiful to admire. Note the traditionally looking hairspring in blued metal. In this timepiece, the Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon, Jaeger-LeCoultre has perhaps produced one of the finest looking and most unobstructed tourbillon assemblies of all time.