Watches that are created with striking complications are the most difficult of horological designs and even if they make it to manufacturing it is difficult to insure they will be trouble free. One brand has invested time, energy, research and development on these chiming timepieces and it is no surprise that the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon is no exception. Jaeger LeCoultre patented what they refer to as the crystal gong because it utilizes a crystal/foil layering technique that has the gongs attached to a layer of metallic foil coating the crystal. The crystal then is pressed into a white gold case, a technique that they found provides the best acoustics and helped them to create these masterpieces.
The gongs are crafted from a special allow, created in one monoblock piece, and are designed square instead of round. This design ensures that the hammer hits the center of the flat each and every time which insures the chime last longer. While the actual sound of the mechanism is almost impossible to hear, the listener concentrates on the sonorous notes that are produced by the hammers as they strike the gongs. The brand tests each of these striking pieces at their grande complication workshop, where the sound quality is evaluated. The program developed within the company tests intensity, length, and richness of the sound, while also ensuring the notes intended are the ones being struck.
Jaeger-LeCoultre set a goal to be the best in class and set benchmarks to achieve that goal. Setting a volume of at least 60 decibels and thoroug water resistance. The hammers that strike the gongs inside the case of this Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon Watch are very special, they have a jointed design, which in turn allows sort of a double flick, promoting resonance and provides the optimal energy transmission. Most all of the other repeaters on the market are activated by a slide on the side of the case, but this timepiece is equipped with a brand patented retractable button at 10 o’clock to activate the function. There is a second button located at 8 o’clock that is the locking system. The understated grace and elegance of this timepiece makes it attractive before you even know how spectacular it is on the inside.
The design of the timepiece introduces so many new elements, including six of the eight patents that protect the movement, the shape of the case which took inspiration from a pocket watch from 1907, and of course the minimal case thickness for this grand complication. Aesthetically, everything about the design of this watch has a purpose, from the exquisite dauphin-style hands to the limited edition release. Jaeger-LeCoultre has crafted the world’s thinnest timepiece that combines automatic winding, a tourbillon and a minute repeater. The case is only 7.9mm thick, and was created by the brand re-imagining the design elements not just trying to size them down. The case diameter is 41mm wide, with a thin bezel, and quickly is recognized as an elegant and comfortable wear. Designing this as a limited edition piece in 18k white gold certainly is brilliant for the brand, and possibly it will be released in the future as a non-limited model with some material changes. Being the first ultra-thin grand complication timepiece the brand has produced makes it very attractive to collectors and other horological experts.
The Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon Watch uses a peripheral rotor rather than the micro-rotor, which makes it very rare, as well as allows it to sit on the outside of the movement rather than on top of it. These rotors are thinner and on this design it has one visible through the dial. Being on the dial side the rotor is controversial because it can disrupt what otherwise would be a clean dial, which might bother some, but really is amazing because of the visual splendor it brings to the wearer.
Jaeger-LeCoultre limits the number of minute repeaters they produce each year, and over the lifetime of the brand they have only produced around 200 movement styles that incorporate the complication. This limited edition timepiece lives up to all the hype, and will be sought after by collectors, so if you appreciate fine horological expertise, this timepiece is for you.