Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon: Very Close to being the Perfect Tourbillon Watch

All brands have reputations to uphold, but for some, this lifting is a bit more heavy than others. A prime example of this is Jaeger-LeCoultre. They earned the nickname ‘the watchmaker’s watchmaker,’ because they have a long history of supplying movements to some of the most esteemed brands in watchmaking, with the vast majority of them fully capable of making movements on their own.

See it as a testimony of how good a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement actually is.

Apart from being a movement maker for others, Jaeger-LeCoultre is, first and foremost, a brand of its own. To me, it is one of the manufactures that forms the bedrock of Swiss Haute Horlogerie. It is not only because of its movements but also thanks to a very consistent design language. Trends seem to have little effect on the main lines in the collection, especially not when we get to the more traditional collection such as the Master Ultra Thin.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Second

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Second

Within this collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise in watchmaking is perhaps best expressed. From a stunning, understated manual wound to more complex perpetual calendars, and the tourbillon here, these watches stand out because of their ultra-thin movements. 

Making a movement is still one thing, but making it (ultra) thin is quite another. There is a whole universe in between, especially when you also want such a thin movement to be reliable. Jaeger-LeCoultre is a brand that wrote the manual about this. Most of the watches in the Master Ultra Thin collection are rather restrained in terms of their design. The case is elegant and full of subtle details, but those really come out when you examine it closer.

It is generally designed not only to highlight the thinness of the movement and watch overall but also to contribute towards superb wearing comfort, but with the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon this is slightly different. More about that later.

The bezel is always relatively thin. This is also done on purpose because not only does it give the dial center stage, but it also makes it look slightly larger than it actually is. 



Spot on design

This is also the case with the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon with a blue enamel dial. Granted, 40mm in diameter is not particularly small, but on the wrist it actually looks a bit larger. This is quite remarkable, as the tone of the blue is slightly on the dark side, which often results in the perception that the watch is actually smaller. Here, it is the enamel that plays an important role.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon in Pink Gold

There are various ways to do enamel. The most common is to simply ‘glaze’ a dial with a single color of enamel. This will create a very understated effect and was something the Jaeger-LeCoultre could have done very well with this version of the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon. However, the brand went the extra mile, utilizing the incredible expertise that they have at their fingertips in the manufacture.

They crafted a hand-guilloché pattern of 180 rays and coated them with blue enamel. To get an even result, this requires the hand of a master and very precise firings. In addition to the sunray hand-guilloché pattern is the center of the subdial for the date decorated with a circular hand-guilloché pattern. We call this azurage.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon in Pink Gold

Enamel on a flat dial gives that unique, milky shimmer when light hits it, but when the dial is equipped with a pattern, like this Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon, you get a tremendous play of light that elevates the character of the watch to being much more outgoing. Jaeger-LeCoultre further plays into this with pink gold hour markers that flow into the dial design. They are kept on purpose slender and slightly longer to highlight that unique effect on the dial.

Jaeger-LeCoultre is also always focused on keeping the legibility of all the features on its watches as high as possible. This sounds like kicking in an open door, but to balance the features of the movement with an extraordinary design and craftsmanship means that legibility is sometimes paying the bill.

Despite the hands being quite slender on the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon, they make reading the time very easy. Jaeger-LeCoultre folds these pink gold hands in such a way that usually one side reflects the light while the other is consistently darker, making them easy to spot.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon in Pink Gold

JLC also takes room to print the dates, so the numerals are in a readable size. The tourbillon doubles as seconds hand, and is surrounded by a laser-engraved railroad track. This not only makes it easy to read this feature as well, but it also adds additional depth and a bit more of that pink gold to the dial.

Overall, this results in a rich and warm look that will most likely keep your eyes glued on this timepiece.



Is this what ultra slim looks like?

The caliber 978 that powers the Master Ultra Thin is a beauty that consists of 271 components. It features a single barrel, offering a 45-hour power reserve, which is wound by a pink gold oscillating weight that Jaeger-LeCoultre partially skeletonized to admire the decorations of the movement.

Automatic Caliber 978 visible through the display back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon

The striping has the back bridge of the tourbillon as its center and flares out. Chamfered edges and blue screws complete the package. Again, a bit of an understated route, but a sophisticated one.

With the height of the movement at 6.50mm, Jaeger-LeCoultre has a valid claim on calling it slim. When we look at the competition, we see that another gold standard in this category of watches, Piaget, needs 4.60mm for its caliber 670P that powers the Altiplano tourbillon. This sounds worlds apart, but the Piaget is manual wind, doesn’t feature a date function, and the dial is placed off-set as well. All these features save space.

The 6.50mm is probably not as thin as Jaeger-LeCoultre could have gone. Still, by doing so, they would probably have to sacrifice more in terms of reliability than they wanted to. You don’t become the ‘watchmaker’s watchmaker’ by making movements that have troubles in that area.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Blue Enamel Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon in Pink Gold

The catch is when the watch is cased up. Then, the height almost doubles, as the Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon is 12.13mm thick. Jaeger-LeCoultre needs room to have hands move over each other, a bit more space to accommodate the dial, and the sapphire insert in the gold case back also adds to the height.

While still a pleasure to wear on the wrist, and thanks to a clever design it looks quite slim; calling it ‘ultra-slim’ might be a bridge too far. That’s also fine because it means that the quest for the perfect Tourbillon wristwatch is still open, as this Jaeger-LeCoultre came very close to being just that.

For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/eu-en/watches/master-ultra-thin/master-ultra-thin-tourbillon-pink-gold-q1682411  

Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Blue Enamel
40 x 12.13 mm, 18-karat pink gold

Movement: automatic Caliber 978, 6.50mm height, 45-hour power reserve , 28,800 VpH/4Hz, and one-minute flying tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on the tourbillon carriage)
Price: $119,000

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Watches: Why Are They Not More Popular?

Jaeger-LeCoultre: A Collector’s ‘Gateway Drug’ and Ongoing Pleasure

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