Colloquially known as the “Watchmaker of Watchmakers” due to its long history of supplying movements to some of the industry’s most prestigious luxury brands, Jaeger-LeCoultre excels at producing highly complicated timepieces. Among the latest JLC novelties unveiled this year at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024 is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual, which is a 20-piece limited edition that features a multi-component pink gold case inspired by the brand’s savonette pocket watches from the 19th century, and it expands upon the Duometre concept by pairing a triple-axis tourbillon with a perpetual calendar and moonphase complication.

Constructed from 34 separate components, the case of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual ref. Q6202420 is crafted from 18k pink gold, and it measures 44mm in diameter by 14.7mm thick. In French, the word “savonette” translates to small disc of soap with rounded edges that can fit in the palm of a hand, and the domed sapphire crystal combined with the smooth curvature of the case emulates this classic profile. Rather than being an integral part of the middle case, the lugs are separately attached to enable multiple different finishing techniques, and while the case components showcase a mix of brushed, polished, and micro-blasted surfaces, the only sharp lines that appear on the watch are the high-polished facets of its lugs.

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Even the winding crown has been updated to feature deep rounded grooves that complement the smooth form of the case, and while the overall shape of the watch remains familiar and highly traditional, the recessed micro-blasted sections on the side of the case and lugs offer an inherently modern appearance that highlights the mechanical complexity of this model. Given that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual is a highly complicated solid gold dress watch that is fitted with a brown alligator leather strap, nothing about this timepiece is even remotely close to being rugged or utilitarian, and it, therefore, offers the standard 30 meters of water resistance to protect against incidental contact.

At the core of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual is the brand’s Duometer movement concept, which was first introduced in 2007 and aims to remedy the issue of additional complications detracting from timekeeping accuracy. Rather than having all of the complications run off the same power source and gear train, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Duometre concept features two mainspring barrels and two separate gear trains that are both linked to a single regulatory organ, with one dedicated to the timekeeping of the movement, while the other drives all of its other complications. With the Duometre concept serving as the foundation, Jaeger-LeCoultre is free to add multiple additional complications, and the new Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual offers a perpetual calendar, moonphase, two separate power reserve indicators, grande date display, and the model’s signature triple-axis tourbillon.

So, what exactly is a Heliotourbillon? In short, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Heliotourbillon is the latest evolution of the brand’s original multi-axis Gyrotourbillon, which originally debuted back in 2004 and has been featured in a number of different JLC models throughout the years. With that in mind, while the Gyrotourbillon rotates on two different axes, the new 163-component Heliotourbillon takes things one step further by adding an additional independent cage and a third axis to the tourbillon’s rotation.

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Constructed with a cylindrical hairspring and three titanium cages that ride on ceramic ball bearings to minimize friction, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Heliotourbillon features its first cage set at a 90-degree angle to the balance wheel to rotate perpendicular to its motion. The second tourbillon cage is set at 90 degrees to the first (parallel to the balance wheel), and while the first two cages make one full rotation in 30 seconds, the third tourbillon cage is set perpendicular to the second cage and rotates at a slower rate of one rotation per minute. In addition to compensating for the effects of gravity on the balance wheel, the Heliotourbillon also offers a highly dynamic appearance with a kinematic effect that is said to resemble a spinning top.

While the case is fairly understated, the dial of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual takes things in the complete opposite direction, with multiple different registers and the model’s signature Heliotourbillon prominently showcased on the left-hand side of the display. The time is represented by a pair of hands set within the largest dial inside the case, while the grande date complication appears at 3 o’clock with its two calendar discs visible through the rectangular aperture. Sitting both above and below the time-displaying dial are two power reserves (one for each barrel), while the remaining two sub-dials display the rest of the functions for the perpetual calendar. The register on the upper half of the dial serves as both the day display and moonphase indicator, while the register that sits opposite on the lower half tracks both the month and year, with the last digit of the year appearing in red to denote the values that correspond with leap years.

Making all of this functionality possible is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 388 manual-wind movement, which runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 46 hours for each mainspring barrel. Unlike some perpetual calendar movements that can be damaged by setting them backward, the calendar mechanism within the JLC Cal. 388 only advances when the time is adjusted, which means that it is capable of having its time set either forward or backward without impacting any of its calendar displays. The moonphase of the Cal. 388 is accurate to 122 years, and the perpetual calendar will only require manual adjustment in the year 2100 (along with subsequent centenary years that are not leap years).

Since Jaeger-LeCoultre has not supplied an image of the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual’s caseback, it is unclear whether this model offers solid or display-style design. However, given the high level of finishing that is present throughout the watch, I personally hope that it features a display caseback, as JLC movements are almost always very aesthetically pleasing, and this is especially true for the brand’s high-complications pieces. Additionally, given that the Caliber 388 is a manually wound movement and therefore does not have the obligatory rotor that normally obscures the view of automatic calibers, a display caseback would be an especially welcome feature, as it would allow Jaeger-LeCoultre to fully showcase the movement’s architecture and create a vast canvas of surfaces to showcase the manufacturer’s high degree of finishing.

By this point, you have probably already guessed that the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual is a rather expensive offering, as there is nothing about a 20-piece limited edition in solid gold that would imply a budget-friendly price point, let alone one that also features a perpetual calendar and triple-axis tourbillon. Consequently, the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual ref. Q6202420 is the most expensive model among the brand’s various novelties that were unveiled in Geneva at Watches & Wonders 2024 this year, and it is accompanied by an official retail price of $438,000 USD. With that in mind, the tourbillon and perpetual calendar are two of watchmaking’s most prestigious complications, and the new Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual not only offers both of these features, but it also represents an extreme and highly technical expression of this horological heavy-hitting concept. For more information on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual, please visit the brand’s website.

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