Serious Horology For Women: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Celestial
There are truly so few watch brands that take creating timepieces for the female watch connoisseur seriously. Jaeger-LeCoultre, naturally, takes enthusiasts seriously, ably demonstrated by the fill of amazingly complicated and innovative masterpieces introduced over the last 180 years.
But how many of these have been expressly created with the feminine wrist in mind? Very few. Even Jaeger-LeCoultre has “only” generally created lines for women that focus on the decorative rather than the complex – though some of those have been rather complicated in other ways, like anything powered by Caliber 101, the world’s smallest mechanical movement.
However, that changed with the re-launch of the Rendez-Vous during the 2012 film festival season. Brand ambassador Diane Kruger, the “face” of this rebooted line that once enjoyed popularity in the early 1990s, helped to publicly reintroduce the watch whose name is derived from the special dial element that allows the owner to set a time to be remembered: “rendez-vous time.”
One of the reasons that I adore the Rendez-Vous Celestial is that it is both deliciously complicated and visually stunning at the same time. Indeed, its overtly feminine style is perfectly suited to the smaller wrist of the female enthusiast as it is housed in a 37.5 mm white gold case whose bezel, case band, lugs and crowns are set with 155 brilliant-cut diamonds (totaling 2.09 ct).
For me, diamonds are not a necessary addition to the feminine timepiece (in fact, I personally rarely wear them there), but I do understand the attraction in this particular case: combining their fierce sparkle with the deep blue of the lapis lazuli dial and the alligator-skin strap makes this timepiece a rare visual treat.
Jaeger-LeCoultre maintains a grand tradition of celestially-themed timepieces, interpreting them again and again in interesting ways. Some recent examples include the Reverso Grande Complication à Triptyque (2006), the Atmos Astronomique (2008), and the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication (2010).
These timepieces are odes to the beauty of the nature that the Vallée de Joux, this grand manufacture’s home, exudes. In fact, the Rendez-Vous Celestial’s gorgeous dial exhibits the same starry sky seen above Le Sentier – which, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to spend the night in the glorious Vallée, you know is a sparkling treat as you can actually see every blinking star.
The Rendez-Vous Celestial’s visual elements also symbolize the Vallée de Joux’s natural wonders: the diamonds could embody either snow and ice or the stars, while the deep blue of the enamel and the lapis could indicate Lac Joux’s pristine water.
The dial has two parts to it. The outer arc comprises the funky numerals characteristic of the revived Rendez-Vous collection against the backdrop of blue lacquer applied to hand-guilloché metal. The lyrical vision of the heavenly constellations is added to a precious plate of lapis lazuli forming the inner rotating dial. This semi-precious stone is prized for its profound blue color: its Latin name means heaven or sky stone (lapis is the stone and lazulum, derived from the Arabic lazaward, is heaven/sky).
The Rendez-Vous Celestial also carries a zodiac calendar to display the position of the constellations at any given time of the year. To achieve this, its automatic Caliber 809 is outfitted with an annual calendar to rotate the celestial star disk at the almost imperceptible pace of one full turn every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds.
Another playfully poetic touch – yes, we women like those – is found in the shooting star that is a fixed element of the Rendez-Vous collection. This shooting star, which can be moved along the perimeter of the dial, allows the wearer to set a personal time to remember, perhaps even the time of a date (hence the “rendez-vous”). This function is easily controlled by the one of the crowns. The other crown visible on the side of the case, equally as decorative with its inverted brilliant-cut diamond, controls the setting of the time and the sky chart.
Turning the watch over, the exceptional movement, which was designed just for use in this timepiece, is visible through the sapphire crystal case back. Comprising 230 components, it is finely finished as clearly displayed by the côtes soleillées (sunburst-style decoration) characteristic of the brand on the rotor.
During the 2013 Venice Film Festival, where Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated its 180th anniversary, CEO Daniel Riedo explained that 40 percent of this brand’s sales now go to female consumers. It’s easy to see why, isn’t it?
For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.
Movement: automatic Caliber 809
Dial: one part lapis lazuli and one part hand-guilloché metal coated with blue lacquer
Case: 37.5 mm, 18-karat white gold
Functions: hours, minutes; rotating sky chart with zodiac constellation indication (driven by an annual calendar); “rendez-vous” hand
Diamond setting: 155 brilliant-cut diamonds (total 2.09 ct) on bezel, case band, lugs and crown as well as on the clasp