Jaeger-LeCoultre is loved as much by enthusiasts for their diverse and excellent in-house movements as for their notable watch line. But most don’t know that, amid the quartz crisis in the 1970’s, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced a low-end line of watches featuring mass-market movements from A. Schild, progenitor of today’s ETA and Swatch!
Update: Sold for a puzzling €1,200 (€1,725 all-in, or $1,880)! Who would have thought?
The Club line appeared in the 1970’s as an affordable mass-market alternative to high-end Jaeger-LeCoultre products. This was especially important as the rise of affordable and well-made quartz and Japanese watches threatened the entire Swiss watch industry at that time. But how would Jaeger-LeCoultre make an affordable watch?
Although Jaeger-LeCoultre had long relied on other companies to produce chronograph movements1, they steadfastly relied on their own designs for other watches2. But they could not economically produce an automatic movement to compete with the consolidating Swiss industry and the rising Japanese makers.
So Jaeger-LeCoultre turned to “the enemy”, Ebauches SA and A. Schild, for a movement for the Club line. They selected the AS 1906, one of the best mass-produced movements on the market, for the Club line. This they combined with cases and dials from their usual suppliers to produce an attractive entry-level range.
Today, Jaeger-LeCoultre Club watches are mostly unknown. They don’t get the respect of the in-house models from Le Sentier, but they’re fine watches for daily use. Interestingly, although many Jaeger-LeCoultre Club watches use 25-jewel movements, this particular one has just 17 jewels. Auctionata estimates €800 for this “C 2+”3 watch, but I suspect they’ll have trouble reaching that unless someone doesn’t know the provenance of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Club.
- It wasn’t until 2004 that Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced an automatic chronograph of their own! ↩
- Jaeger-LeCoultre had to use a Tavannes movement for the original 1931 Reverso because their movement wasn’t ready ↩
- Auctionata is somewhere between “aggressive” and “delusional” in their condition ratings… ↩