Much has been written of the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre, but little has been said of the complex history that gave us this unusual name. How did an Alsatian immigrant to Paris come to be so closely connected to one of the most famous watchmaking families of the Vallée de Joux? This is the story of the partnership between Edmond Jaeger and Jacques-David LeCoultre, and those that helped them to become Jaeger-LeCoultre, including a group of French aviation pioneers and a Swiss daredevil with a famous family name.
The world of watchmaking has many aspects, from marketing to production to design to art, and companies have a mixed mastery of each. But something magical happens when it all comes together, and expresses the highest level of watchmaking. These pieces inspire and delight, rising above the simple function of time-telling or even product. To me, this is the essence of haute horology!
I’m a big fan of auctions as a way to obtain interesting watches for my collection. There are plenty of online antique, art. and specialized watch and clock auctions, populated with collected watches deserving of attention. If you look carefully, you will find some interesting watches, along with plenty that should be avoided!
Most enthusiasts could instantly name the watches pictured below, but they’d be wrong: This isn’t a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, its an Eska Sesame! By the 1980s, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s signature model was forgotten and the company was struggling to survive. Yet just a decade later, the Reverso would lead the entire industry back from the brink. This is the story of the fall of Jaeger-LeCoultre and the resurrection of the Reverso.
When people learn about my interest in watches, the conversation eventually turns to cost. Why pay so much for a watch? This is especially true once they learn that what they thought was expensive (a $10,000 Rolex) isn’t even considered “high end” in the world of watches, and once they discover that a modern gold or gem-set watch costs five times that much. Why are high-end watches so expensive?
Given the clever retrograde chronograph movement, the Gran’Sport Chronograph is the pick of the Gran’Sport lineup today. It’s really too bad that gorgeous Reverso Chronographe Rétrograde is out of the price range for most people.
Today we’re looking at something truly special: A groundbreaking movement in a limited-edition watch that retailed for well over a quarter-million dollars. But there’s another story here, too: The grey market for expensive watches that are a bit past their prime, and the steep discounts that follow. The result is a $150k discount on a basically-new piece of haute horology.
Today’s watch is a wonderful travel companion, a versatile and elegant accessory, and a true classic: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duo. This was my first high-end watch and cemented in me a love for Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Russian “MIG” cockpit clocks are widely available online and make a great desk clock. I recently received one for my birthday and designed this 3D printed stand for it (available free on Thingiverse). For reference, here’s a bit more about these clocks.
A few years ago, I was visiting lovely Como, Italy when I came across a very special watch. Alongside the usual selection of little old Rolex and Omega watches was a dark beauty: A Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX1 Limited Edition in titanium with a deep ruthenium dial. I brought that watch home and it’s become a favorite of mine. Now there’s a similar watch up for auction, and I suggest that you take a look!