Master Of Control: The New For 2017 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, Master Control Chronograph, And Master Control Geographic
Only a master can be in control of his or her entire mind, body, and surroundings.
A kung fu master will train from childhood developing skills and senses to become master of the human body, often surpassing what is believed to be humanly possible. Those in the special forces will train their bodies to become as tough as nails with minds even tougher to overcome any obstacle that man or nature throws at them.
Most famous of all, the Jedi train for years to master their understanding and use of the Force with the goal of protecting the galaxy and bringing balance to the Force.
Okay, that last one might be fictional, but the training regimen depicted in the films is inspired by real life masters who spend years honing their bodies into elite specimens of strength and ability.
And yet there are still other masters who focus on different pursuits, including intellectual (like the sciences), physical (any professional athletics), or crafts.
There are millions of people around the world devoting their lives to striving for perfection, be it in astrophysics, jai alai, or Japanese joinery. After years of hard work and dedication, these individuals may finally become masters in control of their skill.
People who have reached such a pinnacle deserve a token that matches the dedication they have expended, and Jaeger-LeCoultre has the answer: the Master Control.
The Master Control line of watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre, within the Master Collection, is a series of relatively straightforward timepieces featuring the most useful complications such as date, chronograph, and second time zone.
This covers the basic additions that a majority of watch wearers look for, and with the 25th anniversary of the collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre provides an updated set of models inspired by the past: meet the new Master Control Date, Master Control Chronograph, and Master Control Geographic.
Art Deco inspiration
In the early decades of the twentieth century, a design movement called Art Deco arose around the use of strong geometric shapes that simplified the overly literal classical style while building on and softening the extreme reductionism of Cubism.
The shapes of Art Deco were bold and included bright colors and sharp contrasts; it also favored fine materials used simply but with purpose.
The style was extremely varied based on a multitude of influences so that two Art Deco pieces could be seemingly unrelated in design inspiration yet both be hailed as exemplary examples of Art Deco creativity.
This could be seen everywhere in graphics, interior design, architecture, and objects such as furniture, appliances, and jewelry.
The watch industry was not immune to the influences, and watch designs became as varied as the stylistic inspiration.
Sector dials were a big hit with Art Deco designers and the classic style was updated for the new graphical direction. Whereas the basic sector dial consists of concentric circles with lines connecting the circles at hour or minute markers, the Art Deco approach was to play with line weights and lengths and create broken sectors.
The lines would often radiate outward from an inner circle and stretch toward an outer ring without touching, or in some instances cross the outer ring without letting the line be contained. The addition of modern typography that was almost always sans serif and sometimes a mix between Art Deco and Bauhaus completed the effect.
This style has recently begun making its way into retro-inspired watches, and for good reason: it just looks so darn good. Out of all the vintage-inspired designs, this look might be the most dramatic one resurrected, and its popularity has showed that to be a good thing.
Classic to modern retro
The new Master Control line uses this style of dial to great effect as a large departure from the classic 1950s and ҆60’s inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre style that is predominant in the Master Collection. It is akin to a breath of fresh air, if that air happens to be paradoxically older, which is not surprising since the design is based on a Jaeger-LeCoultre pocket watch from 1938.
This is best on display in the new Master Control Date, which only features a small date window as an addition to the dial. The sectors radiate outward on the inner ring at the hour markers, reaching about half way to the outer ring with the minute markers. At the quarters, small sectors radiate inward a short distance, mirroring the outer ring’s minute markers in length.
The main hour sectors are a strong black with a heavy line weight in contrast to the minute markers, which are rather thin. As a secondary contrast, the minute markers feature a light blue marker at every five-minute position to keep from visually joining the hour markers.
These markers are also a heavier line weight than the surrounding minute markers, though only about 70 percent the size of the large hour sector lines.
While the dials differ for obvious reasons between the new Master Control Date, Master Control Chronograph, and the Master Control Geographic, they do all share the very striking new hands that are another strong departure from the regular Master models. Usually equipped with dauphine or dagger-style hands, the new models feature a skeletonized baton hand that, in this context, reminds me of a miniature model of a skyscraper like the Empire State Building (which also happened to be an Art Deco building).
The blue skeletonized hands really complete the style of the dial and instead of feeling like a gimmick it stands as a solid exercise in Art Deco design. These details carry across the models, even though the dial layouts vary significantly. The smaller details are modified in meaningful places to create cohesion between the models even though they display such different information.
Major difference, minor change
The Master Control Date is obviously the simplest and most straightforward of the pieces. It has everything I previously described plus the small date window outlined in black and featuring numerals in the same light blue as the five-minute markers.
The Master Control Chronograph and Master Control Geographic are where you start to see the genius of the design team headed by Janek Deleskiewicz at work.
For the Master Control Chronograph, a large portion of the dial is occupied by the hour and minute counter subdials, and the outer edge of the dial is filled in with a tachymeter scale.
The minute ring includes more markers for the chronograph second hand, one mark for every two beats of the balance wheel (eight beats per second, four markers per second), which, combined with the tachymeter scale and subdials, creates a much more visually busy dial.
But in an attempt to ensure that the visual weight of the dial wasn’t too much, the tachymeter scale, the subdial numerals, and some of the minute counter markers are in the same light blue color of the hands and minute markers.
Given how much extra printing is on the dial, this contrast helps to keep the volume down on what could have been a plethora of printed “noise.”
The spacing and line weights of the markers and numerals are also kept to a minimum to allow the stark Art Deco design to shine through.
However, the numerals on the hour and minute counters are a different typography, which breaks the design intent and distracts from the Art Deco inspiration. The chronograph does feel related, however with the relative busyness of its dial it feels the least Art Deco of the bunch.
My favorite: the Master Control Geographic
The dial for the Master Control Geographic is much more similar to the Master Control Date than the Master Control Chronograph mostly due to three aspects. The Master Control Geographic has only one large subdial at 6 o’clock, which features the same typography as the rest of the dial; the minute ring matches that on the Master Control Date; and it lacks the busy tachymeter scale.
Both the Master Control Geographic and Master Control Date feature three large hour numerals on the dial compared to the Master Control Chronograph’s two.
These might seem like small differences, but visually they change the perception drastically. The Master Control Geographic is like an older brother to the Master Control Date, whereas the Master Control Chronograph feels more like a half-brother with one different parent. It looks very similar, but enough is changed so that it separates itself.
This might be why I like the Master Control Geographic the most out of the collection: it feels more mature with the second time zone display, 24-hour micro indication, and the city window at the bottom of the dial.
The window allows for quick adjustment of the second time zone based on cities around the world. The city disk does have the cities printed in a serif font, but since it does not display numerals and the city names are rather small, this difference does not make as much visual impact as the typography change on the Master Control Chronograph.
On previous models of the Master Control Geographic, this city disk was implemented in very similar ways, but based on the dial layouts it didn’t feel as cohesive as it does on this sector style dial. Keeping the rest of the watch simple and clean allows this visual complication to sing instead of fade to the background.
And with the secondary crown for the second time zone at 10 o’clock, this presentation has just enough quirkiness to satisfy my need for something different while maintaining an everyday approachability.
Overall, I think all of the new Master Control models are a success, but my heart leans towards the Geographic.
Though, given what the standard models look like, they all provide a bit of jazz and vintage inspiration excitement, revitalizing the design department with some risks for a new generation of watch lovers.
I’m excited to see if the Art Deco and sector styles show up anywhere else in the collections!
While waiting with anticipation, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.45 For the style update to some awesome and affordable watches, these definitely made my mouth drop!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 77.6 » 760.996 m/s2 It’s easy to lust after one watch all night, but the G forces exerted by three incredible watches can keep you in your chair all night!
- M.G.R. * N/A Different movements make it hard to score just one, but being all JLC movements you know you are getting something special either way!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate After taking all three pieces into account there is some pretty hefty added-functionitis in the works. With four added functions between the three, you should probably get some extra strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the multiplied swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 11.8 Moving to a new city only to watch your adopted team crash and burn in the Super Bowl just like your team growing up! I gave up watching sports because my hometown team liked to tease me with near victories for years. But I thought I would give it a try again in a new city. Bad decision. I’m now done with sports again, but I would gladly watch my team lose again to get this trio on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * It’s okay to wear three at a time, right?! I think that since there are three, it didn’t really take much time for the love affair to begin. I knew almost immediately that the ceremony would be a bit complicated!
- Awesome Total * 863 Add the main caliber numbers for all of the watches (751, 899, 939), divide the result by the number of models (3), and the result is the average awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/us/en/watches/master.
Quick Facts Master Control Date
Case: 39 x 8.5 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic JLC Caliber 899/1
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Quick Facts Master Control Chronograph
Case: 40 x 12.1 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic JLC Caliber 751G
Functions: hours, minutes; chronograph
Quick Facts Master Control Geographic
Case: 39 x 11.77 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic JLC Caliber 939B/1
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; second time zone, 24-city disk, 24-hour display
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Thanks, Joshua, great write up. I really liked these new models. I find the Date model should actually do without a date as it totally destroys the equilibrium of the dial.
Another criticism I have is the hands that are not consistent with what we see on sector dials but rather on military models.
The chronograph is my favorite of the three and the pricing is very attractive.
Thanks Alex! The hands do seem more military, though I am feeling the fit with these models better. I think it’s because of the other styles visible in Art Deco that aren’t really represented on the watches, but these help suggest them. The sector style has morphed from its origins anyway and I will say that I dig this take on them!
And alas, the date window will always be controversial, function vs style, the endless debate!
As I’ve said in a few other posts over the months I travel a lot internationally and I’m in the market for the ideal dual time or world time, either is fine, but it has to a dress watch, it has to have a date function and it has to be steel. Interchangeable leather bracelets on a sports watch do not a dress watch make, that’s lipstick on a pig. It has to have a date function because, well, it’s useful. And it has to be steel because, have you ever travelled with young kids? Hear me out. You’ve just boarded and here you are, throwing up hand luggage and American Girl dolls and fighting for overhead luggage compartment space and then diving into your bag for iPads and headphones and god knows what else and then realized your wearing your PP5130? Gingerly you take your hand out of the knapsack and–screw the people who are trying to get by you–check your baby for dings and scratches. I’m not looking to save money I just want the emotional security of knowing it won’t scratch every time it brushes up against something denser than tissue paper. So, missing date function aside, this new Master Control Geographic should work, right. Actually, no. On my list of exclusions should be acceptable diameter to thickness ratio. Am I the only one who notices these things? Come on! 39 x nearly 12mm! No you go off and compare that to the Slim d’Hermes QP with second time zone at half the thickness. Ok, so it’s not yet out in steel… Anyway, my point is the JLC is like wearing a roll of quarters. Why no reviewer has called it out yet on that point is beyond me. I’ll pass.
Thanks for the comments Ben! I will agree that, given it only has the second time zone, it does seem to be rather thick, thicker than it would need to be when considering the chronograph has much more involved. I haven’t seen the specific mechanics of the movement and second time zone to criticize, but I would wonder if they feel it should be a bit thinner, more like the Master Control Date.
That said, I also don’t think they were going for a watch that is considered really a dress watch, but more of a mix between a tool watch and a dress watch. It sure is rugged with the large steel case compared to anything in white gold or platinum. Maybe if you ask them nicely they will try to come out with an “ultra-thin” version!