Sublimating mechanical horology, exalting hand-crafted expertise. Arousing deep emotions and high expectations, desire and fascination. Such are the daunting daily challenges taken up by the artisans of the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre. All experts in their own art, they pool their talents to compose truly remarkable symphonies. Jewellers, enamellers, guilloché artists, engravers and watchmakers prove able to create the perfect alchemist’s blend of technique and aesthetics, form and substance, gear wheels and decorative touches, infusing each watch with genuine soul and passion.
The new collection of Haute Joaillerie watches by Jaeger-LeCoultre highlights an art dedicated to serving grace and beauty. The Rendez-Vous Wild Rose and Rendez-Vous Tourbillon Enamel display their refinement in every detail of their elegant silhouette, escorted by the time-honoured manual crafts that the Grande Maison has been faithfully preserving for over 175 years. And what finer tribute could a Manufacture pay to time than to magnify its perpetual renewal through the skill of the human hand?
Displayed by watch hands carved from gold, the hours and minutes express their devotion to traditional watchmaking skills. Among the gifted hands in the workshops in Le Sentier, those that set the stage for enamel, natural mother-of-pearl and diamonds unite their efforts with the nobility of guilloché work and mechanical horology.
Three masterful interpretations of time, three rendezvous with the rare crafts perpetuated within the Manufacture. In their wake floats the heady scent of a rose…
Time blossoms in the Rendez-Vous Wild Rose through a whorl of mother-of-pearl variations in fresh, light shades. The delicately gem-set rosebud exercises its flowery charms on a crown adorned with an inverted diamond, while the day/night indication nestles inside a petal. The layered white, pink and violet mother-of-pearl segments outline the delicate veins of a leaf, wrapping the most romantic of all flowers in a softly iridescent veil. At its heart beats a mechanical automatic movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 898B, entirely developed and produced within the Manufacture workshops. The bezel, lugs and middle of the white gold case are hemmed with a row of diamonds that light up its mother-of-pearl marquetry face.
The Rendez-Vous Tourbillon Enamel watches wed the age-old art of enamelling with the clever tourbillon mechanism driven by the famous automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 978. Available in two versions, one of which features a snow setting highlighting softly graded shades of opaque and translucent enamels, they set a magnificent stage for the iconic rose motif. Radiating a fascinatingly realistic elegance, the queen of flowers and its double gem-set heart spreads gracefully across the dials. The interplay of golden brown shades, creating subtle monochrome variations against a finely hand-guilloché backdrop, literally breathes life into these exquisite models. The hours and minutes tick by with perfect regularity, while a diamond circle surrounds the mechanical lacework of the tourbillon device at 6 o’clock. Embodying a perfect blend of form and substance, the Rendez-Vous Enamel Tourbillon watches eloquently demonstrate the consummate skill and mastery of the artisans exercising their multiple crafts within the Grande Maison.
Enamelling: an in-house studio
Splendidly embodying the love of detail that has always characterised Jaeger-LeCoultre, the art of miniature enamel painting highlights the absolute beauty of the horological feats accomplished by the Manufacture.
Miniature enamel painting is a discipline that is hardly taught these days and it is thus becoming increasingly hard to find good-quality enamels. As a loyal guardian of the finest watchmaking traditions, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre perpetuates the most ancient techniques applied to decorating watches. It delights in seeking out the most authentic enamels, which it then entrusts to the expert hands of its enamel artists.
Meticulous care, the primordial quality of all watchmakers, also defines the work of the miniature enamel painter. The specialists of the Manufacture all call upon the most refined expressions of their art in personalising the second face of a Reverso, or the dial of the prestigious round watches in the collection, in accordance with the wishes of their fortunate owners.
The patient stage-by-stage crafting of such a work calls for a large number of extremely delicate operations. Before starting the painting as such, the enameller coats the back of the dial plate or the case-back with a layer called counter enamel and designed to prevent any distortion of the metal during firing. The artist then begins the decorative work by applying successive layers of white enamel.
Enriching this enamel base with a range of metallic oxide pigments enables the artist to create a broad spectrum of colours. These vibrant shades of enamel are then applied to the metal with a goose feather or a very fine brush, before being fired in the kiln several times until the exact hue is reached. The ultimate success of the work depends to a great extent on strokes that are as fine and accurate as possible, while each stage of firing at high temperatures (between 800 and 850 degrees Celsius for grand feu enamelling) represents a major risk for the work of art in the making. Moreover, to guarantee the smooth running of the watch mechanism, the enamel artist must display absolute precision in every gesture so as not to exceed the infinitely small tolerances of around 2/10th of a millimetre.
Finally, in order to protect a miniature enamel painting placed on the back of a Reverso, the artisan applies a flux composed of fine layers of transparent enamel serving both as a protective varnish for the miniature painting and to enliven the motif by enhancing the depth and intensity
of the colours. This last stage, involving temperatures of over 800°C, implies a number of dangers, since each firing could ruin many hours of patient and meticulous work. Also known as “painting under flux”, this is the most accomplished form of miniature enamel painting due to its immense artistic value and its enduringly stable nature.