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Up Close: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

jaeger-lecoultre New Watches 2020 News Reviews SJX

Up Close: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar

Jaeger Lecoultre Master Control Chronograph Calendar 759 Movement 5.jpg

Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by JX Su (SJX).  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/01/jaeger-lecoultre-master-control-chronograph-calendar-review.html

When Jaeger-LeCoultre revived the Master Control line early last year, the Master Control Chronograph Calendar was the flagship model. Taking its cues from the bestselling, 1990s collection of the same name, the Master Control is a gentleman’s watch in several flavours, all defined by a subtly retro style.

The Chronograph Calendar features two complications that JLC long offered individually, but never combined before – the chronograph and triple calendar with moon phase. Made possible by adding JLC’s longstanding triple-calendar module to its equally longstanding chronograph movement, the Chronograph Calendar is seemingly complicated but straightforward in its classical good looks.

Initial thoughts

A handsome watch with a traditional bent, the Master Control Chronograph Calendar is well done. Possessing a solid, workmanlike quality, the watch sticks to the ageless Master Control look of the 1990s, more or less. While a couple of details could be improved – one reasonably expects more of JLC in terms of the movement given its history – the Chronograph Calendar is good enough.

Visually, it is a largish watch, though it doesn’t measure as such. At 40 mm wide and 12.05 mm high, the Chronograph Calendar is moderately sized, but the design means it looks a bit bigger than it actually is.

The narrow bezel and light-coloured dial makes it seem wider, while the wide, vertical case flanks accentuate its thickness. The style of the watch calls for a certain elegance that is diluted by the perceived size of the case.

Mechanically, the watch is similarly well done and decorated in an appealing manner. Slim and smartly constructed, the cal. 759 inside is essentially the cal. 752 combined with a triple-calendar module. Though not novel, it has a handful of details that help give it a bit more refinement, including the free-sprung, adjustable mass balance.

Priced right, the Chronograph Calendar would be a value buy, but the it is fairly expensive at US$15,200 in steel and a little over US$28,000 for gold – which is the more appealing of the two in its richer colour.

That’s not exorbitant, but enough for it to be tangible and out of the norm for JLC’s traditional positioning. In fact, the brand’s historical strength has always been in classically-designed watches with well-executed movements – which this is – but also priced competitively, which this isn’t quite.

Classic Master looks

The styling of the new Master Control collection is modelled on the line of the same name that made its debut 1992. Though not novel – the original was already based on 1950s gent’s wristwatches – the design is still appealing and fairly ageless, so its revival is a good thing.

Very much a mid-20th century Swiss aesthetic, the new Master Control largely reproduces the original with minimal frills, which is often a pitfall when contemporary designers try to outdo their predecessors.

The dial is symmetrical and clearly laid out, with good proportions despite the largish case relative to the movement. Though the two windows for the day and month could be bigger, they are sufficient.

That said, the dial still has frills that can be refined, or done away with altogether. One is the mix of languages on the dial: the pulsometer scale is in English, while “Automatique” is obviously French. And the use of the “JL” emblem along with the text logo crowds the area under 12 o’clock, leaving it a tiny bit top heavy.

Extras like the red accents and graduations for the constant seconds aren’t really necessary. The 1990s Master Chronograph, for instance, had a constant seconds register that was clean save for crosshairs.

Up close the dial quality is solid, like the rest of the watch. It’s a mix of textures and levels. The pulsometer scale is finished with stamped concentric rings, as are the sub-dials, while the main dial is a smooth satin. And the registers are recessed, with the date sub-dial sitting a little better than the chronograph counters.

As it is with the dial, the case sticks to the template established by the 1990s Master Control, with a couple of enhancements. In fact, the case has been more obviously improved over the 1990s models, no doubt as a result of better case production technology.

The case retains the bevel on the length of the lugs found on the originals, but the bevel is now wider and sharper. It is also more prominent because the case has brushed flanks instead of a uniform polished finish.

That said, the style of the case loses a bit of its elegance when scaled up. While the 1990s Master Control watches were typically 37 mm and thin, the Chronograph Calendar is a big watch. The relatively flat bezel and back means a high case middle that emphasises the verticality of the case. Though the case isn’t thin at a bit over 12 mm, it is not excessively thick, but the design makes it seem so.

The cal. 759 inside is, once again, good looking and workmanlike. Technically it has all of the features expected of a modern, high-end chronograph calibre, namely a column wheel, vertical clutch, and free-sprung balance, along with some less apparent details like a single-piece reset lever and “Magic Lever” winding.

Much of its construction is reminiscent of the Frederic Piguet 1185, long considered the reference in compact, refined chronograph construction. And it is also similar to chronograph calibres utilised by other Richemont brands like Panerai and Cartier, perhaps indicating some shared development know-how.

But given JLC’s status as a venerable maker of complicated movements for itself and hallowed names in watchmaking, something a little more interesting would have been, well, more interesting.

It’s decorated in a neat manner with all of the right colours – silvery rhodium plating, blued steel screws, and a rose-gold plated rotor – with good detailing, though evidently accomplished by machine.

The rotor is handsome, but a solid-gold rotor would have been a welcome bonus

All the bridges feature stamped bevels    

Le Grand rose gold

The gold version of the Chronograph Calendar is especially good looking. Made of a fade-resistant alloy named Le Grand rose gold – which is probably similar to Rolex’s Everose and Omega’s Sedna – the case is warm and weighty, giving it tangibly more luxe than the steel model.

And it’s matched with rose-gold plate hands and hour markers, along with gilded moon and stars on the moon phase disc, all of which makes for an appealingly expensive appearance.

That said, the look doesn’t continue into the movement. The gold version doesn’t have a solid-gold rotor either, which is a bit of a let down given the price.

At a bit over US$28,000, the gold Chronograph Calendar is fairly priced as such things go, though edging towards being pricey, and definitely not the sort of value proposition that JLC historically excelled at.

Concluding thoughts

The Master Control Chronograph Calendar is good in almost all aspects – design, finishing, and price – but one can’t help but feel JLC could have done a little better by sharpening a handful of details.

Key Facts and Price

Master Control Chronograph Calendar
Ref. 4138420 (stainless steel)
Ref. 4132520 (rose gold)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 12.05 mm
Material: Stainless steel or Le Grand Rose Gold
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 759
Functions: Time, chronograph, and full calendar with moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 65 hours

Strap: Calfskin for steel version, and alligator strap for gold version

Availability: At boutiques and retailers
Steel – US$15,200; or 22,300 Singapore dollars
Rose gold – US$28,500; or 41,800 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Jaeger-LeCoultre.com.

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Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by JX Su (SJX).  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/01/jaeger-lecoultre-master-control-chronograph-calendar-review.html


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