This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of its most celebrated watch lines by Jaeger-LeCoultre: the Master Control Series. To celebrate, the brand unveils three new watches with updated design and technical appeal: Master Control Date, Master Control Chronograph, and Master Control Geographic. Here we take a close up look at each of these vintage-inspired watches that are finally in stores now.
1000 Hours Testing: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Watches
Every watch in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection is designed to be a fusion of elegance and rugged performance. Each watch within the Master Control Series undergoes 1000 hours of extensive testing with requirements more stringent than those of the COSC-chronometer certification. On the back of each piece is the label “1000 Hours Control” that confirms that they have successfully passed the battery of tests on accuracy, temperature resistance, barometric pressure changes, vibrations, magnetic fields and water resistance. The new anniversary watches are no exception. These pieces not only look great but also are rugged and durable.
Design Updates for the Master Control Anniversary watches
For those familiar with the Master Control line, the first striking change is the shift in the design of the dial. The first iterations of the Master Control Series featured signature dauphine hands and triangular indexes. In the new pieces, those have been swapped out in favor of skeletonized baton hands, and with blued stainless steel central seconds as well as in the complications and minute circle. There are also hints of blue throughout the entire styling of the dial, and the watches now come on a blue alligator strap to match. All of the new pieces are powered riven by automatic movements.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic
The more complex Master Control Geographic watch (my least favorite when comparing it to the original Master Geographic, if truth told) has left a few indications off the dial for a cleaner look. But I miss seeing the power reserve indication. However, the watch does display the second time zone, 24-city disk, hour, minute and central seconds indication as well as 24-hour indication. The 39mm watch offers 43 hours of power reserve and houses the Caliber 939/A1 movement. The 39mm stainless steel case features a sapphire caseback for viewing the movement and is water resistant to 5 bar. What bothers me about this watch is that the blue coloration for the city disk and other information is not as legible and easy to read, as a bolder black would be; but I do understand the need for the vintage-inspired navy accents. The Master Geographic watch offers a lot of features for a price tag of $9,400.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph
The Master Control Chronograph is easily my favorite of the three new pieces. The stainless steel two register chronograph inspired by vintage styling elements displays two counters that track hours and minutes. The digits within the registers, and around the edge of the tachymeter dial, are in a distinctive blue that pops against the opaline finish of the dial. This piece is equal parts cool, functional and surprisingly affordable. For a high-end chronograph with in-house movement (Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751G), one can typically expect to spend north of $10k. However, this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Chronograph retails for a cool $8,000. Perhaps the only thing missing here is a sapphire crystal display caseback. The 40 mm stainless steel watch offers 65 hours of power reserve thanks to the complex 235-part movement.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
More dressy than sporty, the Master Control Date watch features a date function and a 3,6,9,12 dial layout. For watch purists, the dial measures 39mm, and will easily slide under the cuff of a dress shirt. The watch is meant to transition from the boardroom to the weekend and be suitable for any occasion. In addition, the 219-part automatic movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 899/1, is visible through the display back of the watch — a wonderful detail to owners looking to fawn over their latest purchase. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date watch offers 38 hours of power reserve and retails for $5,700.
All in all, Jaeger-LeCoultre has refreshed the line with alluring styling elements and highly coveted blue accents. In addition, the three pieces are aggressively priced when compared to comparable items from similarly regarded watch manufactures. One of the great pluses here is the stringent testing that goes into ensuring the accuracy, precision and durability of each of these highly styled watches. Best of all: they are in stores now.