Since the 1990s, a man looking for a stylishly understated yet serious dress watch could check out various time-worn heritage pieces or ratchet up to sublimely simple yet seriously expensive classics. Or he could choose something from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control range – named for an in-house testing regime that, in contrast to industry-wide certifications, required the watch to be cased up before being submitted to various trials (including the “1,000 Hours Control” from which the collection takes its name).
Roll the clock forward two decades and a glance at the average “attention maven”’s wrist would imply that the watch world seems only to care about rugged, time-only sports watches, the more sublimely 1970s the better.
Thankfully, the clock hasn't stopped at Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has introduced four new calendar-equipped models of redesigned Master Control series at this year's Watches & Wonders.
Updated for the new century, the Master Control collectioin is defiantly not just satisfied with keeping good time: included among its many technical upgrades are a lengthier power reserve and a hefty eight-year warranty (the latter an oft overlooked but valuable add-on to any new watch purchase).
For this year's entries into the range, we have four watches equipped with calendar functions at their heart that offer much more besides. The entry-level piece is a new Master Control Date fitted with the slim Calibre 899 movement; there's also an ever-useful Geographic model that registers two time zones by way of an aperture at six o'clock indicating the selected world city.
The Master Control Geographic is available in stainless steel or JlC's new pink gold alloy, Le Grand Rose Gold 40mm cases – a combination that's also been afforded the headline model in the series, the handsome Master Control Chronograph Calendar, which leads the line-up with a unique alliance – for Jaeger-LeCoultre, anyway – of chronograph, triple-calendar display and moonphase.
Fitted into its restyled 40mm case (now also available in a new pink-gold alloy) is the new Calibre 759, offering 65 hours’ power reserve and a beautifully delineated dial that, in less seasoned hands, might have appeared cluttered, but here beautifully balances the calendar functions with a classical “bicompax” chronograph layout, surrounded by a pulsometric scale. Sporty, rectangular chrono pushers and the option to quick-change between vegetable-tanned calfskin straps makes this a go-anywhere high-complication timepiece that should weather the style wars for years to come.
No less impressive, is the Master Control Calendar, comprising day, date and month functions in a triple date display that harks back to the Jaeger Le-Coultre movements of the 1940s and 1950s.
Here, the objective has been to give a modernist feel whilst retaining its classical functionality: the red-tipped date hand indicates the days of the month positioned on the periphery of the silvery-white dial, and in a fresh twist to a full calendar display the Calibre 866 movement has been equipped with a jumping complication, allowing the date hand to make a 90-degree leap from the 15th to the 16th in order not to obscure the moon-phase display. Tidy.