Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) is one of the few companies in Switzerland that still produces its own movements, cases, dials, hands, and bracelets. The watches are assembled with the highest precision and under strict quality control.
Since their movements were so well regarded, JLC produced movements for other famous luxury Swiss watch manufacturers, including Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and IWC. Let’s take a look at the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The history of JLC begins in the 1833. After inventing a machine that produced watchmaking pinions, Antoine LeCoultre opened a small workshop in the town of Le Sentier. The talented watchmaker developed and produced innovative timepieces of the highest quality.
In 1844, LeCoultre invented the Millionmètre, the first instrument used to measure the micron. This allowed for LeCoultre to carry out precise measurements in his new luxury watch parts. In 1847, LeCoultre revolutionized the watch industry with inventing the keyless watch.
In 1851, at the first World Exhibition in London, LeCoultre was awarded a gold medal for his numerous inventions. From 1851 and onward, this brand would receive awards at the most prestigious exhibitions for the exceptional quality and precision of their watches.
In 1866, Antoine LeCoultre and his son, Elie LeCoultre, established LeCoultre & Cie, the company’s very first manufacture in the Joux Valley, and has remained its home to the present day. In a short amount of time, LeCoultre became one of the primary suppliers of movements, parts, and tools to the watchmaking industry in Switzerland. LeCoultre & Cie developed everything, from chronographs and alarms, to calendars and tourbillon mechanisms. LeCoultre movements were so highly regarded that other well respected Swiss watchmakers such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantine valued the quality of their movements, and frequently used them in their own timepieces. This brand also became the official horologist to the French Navy, and developed and manufactured several military watches for the United States Army Air Corps. The luxury brand continued to develop new manufacturing methods, making complex watches more reliable.
In 1907, the company created the LeCoultre 145 Calibre, the thinnest pocket watch in the world, with a thickness 1.38 millimeters. In 1929, LeCoultre developed the Calibre 101, the world’s smallest watch movement and remains today as the world’s tiniest movement. Such tiny movements were made for small wristwatches, which was the fashion trend at the time.
In 1931, LeCoultre revealed its most iconic watch to the public, the Reverso. This small compact dress watch, with its rectangular flip case, could be turned over by polo players who wore watches during matches, protecting the watch’s dial and glass. The collaboration between Jaeger and LeCoultre led to the company being officially renamed Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937. In 1939, the luxury watchmaker released its first wristwatches equipped with a calendar, and in 1948, the company released the first automatic watch in watchmaking history with a power-reserve indicator.
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II of England wore a diamond-set LeCoultre Calibre 101 timepiece at her coronation. In 1959, JLC invented the first dive watch equipped with an alarm to remind divers to start their ascension to the water’s surface. The latest achievement of this luxury brand came in 2006 with the creation of the world’s first luxury watch that used a single movement to power three dials, the Reverso Grande Complication a Triptyque. Jaeger-LeCoultre has also been first credited with utilizing sapphire crystals in watchmaking, the invention of the eternal Atmos Clock, the first alarm wristwatch, and the first watch to be protected from magnetic fields, shock, and water. This watchmaking company has truly earned the title of ‘Manufacture’.
Since its founding, JLC has created and produced over 1,000 different timepieces, as well as with over 200 patented inventions that have contributed to the progress of Swiss watchmaking in the field of movements. With their classic and elegant designs, Jaeger-LeCoultre still creates one of the most accurate and long-lasting dress watches for both men and women. Many actors and actresses, including Robert Downey, Jr., Christian Bale, and Benedict Cumberbatch have chosen timepieces created by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Moreover, this watchmaking company has been the official partner of the Venice International Film Festival for more than a decade.
Illustration: Jaeger-LeCoultre Facebook page