By Roberta Naas / Atimelyperspective.com
Introducing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer
Since its inception in 1833, Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre has been driven by a passion for innovation, and has regularly set new standards in the watch industry. Easily one of its most beloved and iconic lines is the Memovox, which is today part of the Master Control collection. Today, the brand unveils two new Memovox watches that will have collectors clamoring: Master Control Memovox and Master Control Memovox Timer.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of very few brands that builds alarm watches, and has been doing so since it launched its first Memovox Alarm watch 70 years ago. Only those brands that are already masters at chiming mechanisms could also master the alarm watch back in the post-World War II era days. While repeaters use multiple hammers and gongs and take their time chiming a melodious tune of hours, quarters and minutes, the hammer in an alarm watch must strike the gong very quickly multiple times — a difficult feat. One Jaeger-LeCoultre executes well.
Re-Worked Striking Mechanism for Master Control Memovox Watches
The newest generation of Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox watches are a deft blend of vintage inspiration and contemporary styling. In addition to new functions and updated movements, the watches boast sapphire case backs and sophisticated dials. The addition of a sapphire case back was not a simple thing, because in previous generations of Memovox watches, the gong was attached to the closed case back. In order to allow wearers to view the hammer in action, the engineers at Jaeger-LeCoultre had to rework the entire striking mechanism so the the gong is attached to the case side instead of the back. Each of the new watches is presented in the new 40mm Master Control case with sloped bezel, curved lugs and both polished- and satin-brushed finishes.
For the complete article written by Roberta Naas, visit https://www.atimelyperspective.com/introducing-jaeger-lecoultre-master-control-memovox-timer-prices/
Almost 90 years ago, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched a wristwatch that was destined to become a classic of 20th-century design: the Reverso. As an object that so deftly synthesised form and function, it has become one of the most immediately recognisable watches of all time, looking as fresh and modern today as when it first appeared.
For 2020, La Grande Maison introduces new aesthetic interpretations of its most admired models for women, the Reverso One. Distinguished, like all Reverso models, by the strength and purity of line derived from the original Art Deco design, and identified by the three straight-line gadroons that define both the upper and lower edges of the case, the new Reverso One introduces fresh colour and new refinement to the collection.
Jaeger Lecoultre Reverso One Red-Wine
With its elongated case – a design inspired by the very first Reverso Lady model of 1931 – and a row of grain-set diamonds defining the gadroons at the upper and lower edges of the case, Reverso One interprets femininity in classically refined style. Finely drawn lines define the four corners of the dial, where the light and airy Arabic numerals look almost as if they have been hand-sketched.
For 2020, this beautifully understated composition receives a jolt of bold colour, with a vivid new red-wine dial. The rich glow is achieved by applying multiple layers of lacquer over a subtle sunray guilloché pattern and is complemented by white numerals and the cool shine of the polished steel case. As a final flourish, the new red-wine colour of the shiny alligator strap ensures that it perfectly matches the dial.
The solid steel caseback of Reverso One is like a blank canvas, inviting the owner to have the watch personalised with any engraving she may wish – a special message, a significant date or even a bespoke design. The possibilities are as infinite as the skills of the designers and engravers at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture.
Celebrating the colour of love and positive energy, the new red-wine Reverso One brings a youthful and extroverted expression of femininity to the Reverso collection.
The headline model of the new Master Control collection features a newly developed movement, Calibre 759, which combines a chronograph with a triple calendar display and a moon-phase. Brought together for the first time in a Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece, this alliance of complications evokes the ancient links between watchmaking and astronomy. The new Calibre 759 features a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch, a moon-phase indicator, and a 65-hour power reserve.
With a balanced dial layout that combines the familiarity of two classical complications – a triple calendar and a bi-compax chronograph – Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers have made the reading of the displays straightforward and intuitive, despite the complexity of the information shown. The 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock is balanced by the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, while the day and month windows in the top part of dial are balanced by the moon-phase and date indicator at 6 o’clock.
The entire display is anchored by the central chronograph seconds hand and contained by the pulsometric scale marked around the dial flange. Complementing the Master Control Chronograph Calendar’s timeless style, rectangular chronograph pushers add a purposeful, modern air to the well-proportioned 12.05mm thick case, which is offered in steel or Le Grand Rose gold®.
Inspired by the exceptional scenery of the Jura mountains and guided by an unquenchable inner fire, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture finds its essence at the heart of the Vallée de Joux. All of its savoir-faire is brought together under one roof: watchmakers, engineers, designers and artisans work in harmony to give birth to exceptional Fine Watchmaking creations, constantly driven by a collective energy and innovative spirit. Since 1833, this same spirit has brought to life over 1200 calibres and made of Jaeger-LeCoultre, La Grande Maison.
The Home of Fine Watchmaking regularly invites its guests to make stopovers in its different ateliers, and to discover the restoration workshop as well as the Heritage Gallery.
Today, the Manufacture’s historic building, built in 1833 and enlarged in 1866, is in the spotlight and inaugurates a fully renovated façade.
The renovation of the historical building’s façade
For five months, the works consisted of restoring the historic appearance back to this building. For this, the Luc Chappuis Maison carried out substantive design operations: new lime plaster, new window frames made of Jura stones, bush-hammer technique… An opportunity for Jaeger-LeCoultre to pay homage to the past all while meeting the new energy saving norms and displaying the Maison’s primary vocation. “MANUFACTURE D’HORLOGERIE” (Watchmaking Manufacture) is written in appliqué letters above the entrance.
The Restoration Workshop
Behind the walls of this façade is the restoration workshop. Here, the antique watches are put into the expert hands of about ten watchmakers. The immediate proximity of the Heritage Gallery makes their job easier. Benefiting from direct access to the original plans, they can draw on this living memory in order to reproduce components that are impossible to repair or that have changed, for antique watches, pocket watches and other treasures entrusted to them by their owners for a complete restoration. The rich collection of nearly 6,000 stamps or swages, manufactured by the Maison for their unique movements and preciously preserved at the Manufacture, is also available for this precise watchmaking work.
The Heritage Gallery, redesigned between 2016 and 2017, presents the iconic timepieces and collections of Jaeger-LeCoultre. It offers visitors a unique, connected experience as well as total immersion into the key stages of the Maison’s history and the art of watchmaking.
On two levels, immense display windows are set in a vast space full of light with a pure décor. One part encloses the Maison’s archives, varying from the written record of technical plans, patents, drawings, old books, client registries, advertisements and catalogues which mark out the history of Jaeger- LeCoultre to meaningful chronological benchmarks. Besides their historical interest, these archives constitute a constant source of inspiration. As if to provide a window on the past, a workbench like the one used by Antoine LeCoultre is also exhibited. With its weathered wood and original tools which we like to imagine could have been used a few hours before, this old furniture generates a profound emotion.
Atmos, Reverso, Memovox, Polaris… Their name makes enthusiasts dream… In the centre of the Heritage Gallery, a monumental glass wall captures your attention. Around a staircase that is as white as snow, this transparent wall exhibits 340 of the 1’ 262 mechanical movements designed, created and assembled by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture. The smallest movement in the world is nestled among them, the calibre 101 weighing barely one gramme which was developed in 1929.
Throughout the visit, it is hard to not let yourself be captivated by the 413 patents of the Maison or the Millionometre. Invented in 1844 by Antoine LeCoultre, this genius’ instrument allowed us to measure microns, a unit of measurement that that didn’t exist yet at the time. Upstairs, where the atmosphere is more intimate, or even confidential, aesthetic masterpieces and exceptional pieces are set side by side without overshadowing each other in individual display cases. An opportunity to admire the renowned Hybris Mechanica collection.
At the end of the visit of this building filled with history, each guest enjoys a unique watchmaking journey to the heart of the Grande Maison, where the past illuminates the present to better reveal it… and set off from the Vallée de Joux with sparkles in their eyes…
A very rare POLARIS MEMODATE to be sold at Phillips Geneva in November 2019 and the unique LUCKY 13 to be sold by Phillips New York in December 2019.
Throughout its history, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been driven by the spirit of inventiveness, its expertise rewarded with more than 400 patents, and its watchmakers’ technical skills and creative imagination embodied in more than 1,200 different calibres.
As these two rare watches from the mid-20th Century demonstrate, every decade has brought fresh ideas and solutions, reflecting the spirit of the times. Among the many changes brought by the 1950s and 60s – represented by each of these watches – were, on one hand, tremendous advances in technology and aerospace, and on the other, the transformation of diving from a challenging pursuit to a widely practised leisure activity.
A rare LeCoultre Polaris Memodate (1967): to be sold at Phillips Geneva, November 2019:
In 1950, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced its first wristwatch featuring an alarm and called it the Memovox (‘voice of memory’). As the model become one of the most desirable and reliable on the market, the company introduced different variations, including a date display, a self-winding version and even an alarm designed to time parking meters.
In 1959, noting that diving had begun evolving from a specialist pursuit into a recreational sport enjoyed by thousands, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to adapt the Memovox to the sea. The company realised that it could offer both a visual timer (on the inner bezel) and an auditory alarm (which also caused vibration against the case) for ultimate diver safety.
To do so, Jaeger-LeCoultre created a patented, multi-layer case-back that optimised the alarm’s sound transmission under water. The outer case, with its 16 holes, allowed for the alarm tone to be heard and also felt on the wrist, while the inner case sealed and protected the movement.
Known in the United States as the Polaris, and in Europe as the ‘Montre de plongeur E859’, the reference E859 featured three crowns, each with the cross-hatch pattern characteristic of SuperCompressor watches. The first crown is for time setting, the second rotates the inner bezel for dive timing, and the third rotates the central disc to align the arrow with the alarm time.
The example being offered by Phillips was made in 1967 for the American market and stands out from other models thanks to its very rare dial markings. While most of the dials were stamped Memovox or bore no inscription other than the LeCoultre name, this watch is stamped Memodate.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Memodate Polaris is its combination of two apparently opposite aspects of watchmaking: the tradition of delicate aural complications and the needs of a practical sporting timepiece. In this respect, it epitomises the open-minded spirit of inventiveness that has created such a rich patrimony at Jaeger-LeCoultre and continues to drive the Maison to this day.
The unique LeCoultre “Lucky 13” (1962): to be sold at Phillips New York, December 2019
The LeCoultre “Lucky 13” is a truly remarkable and unique watch presented by the Chicago Anti-Superstition Society alongside 13 U.S. Senators to an original Mercury Seven U.S. astronaut to commemorate his historic achievement of becoming the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.
Featuring the number 13 at every hour marker, the watch celebrated the Friendship 7 spacecraft capsule used for the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Friendship 7 was the 13th space capsule produced by McDonnell Aircraft Corp, and the 13s on the dial were used to illustrate the society’s rejection of the number 13 as unlucky.
The ceremony, taking place on Friday, April 13th, 1962, was entered in the House Congressional Record on October 13th, 1962. The consignor intends to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this watch to The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.
As well as demonstrating Jaeger-LeCoultre’s technical expertise, the deep meaning and personal connections behind the story of these unique timepieces remind us that watches have always had social and emotional significance – which sometimes even overrides their practical purpose.
Encapsulating the core values of La Grande Maison, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents a new version of the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3, which marries the technical tour-de-force of its signature multi-axis tourbillon to the finest of artistic craftsmanship.
In 2013, Jaeger-LeCoultre first introduced the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 to mark the Maison’s 180th anniversary. Combining a third-generation interpretation of the Gyrotourbillon with an intriguing and highly unusual instantaneous digital display chronograph, it represents mechanical sophistication of the highest order.
But still, Jaeger-LeCoultre wanted to do more. And so, this new version of Gyrotourbillon 3 harnesses the exceptional skills of the Manufacture’s Rare HandcraftsTM (Métiers Rares®) artisans to elevate the rare and precious timepiece to a new level. With various elements of the dial showcasing the traditional Rare HandcraftsTM of hand-guillochage, engraving and grand feu enamel, this new model introduces the rarely seen craft of meteorite inlay.
On the dial side, the intriguing geometric markings of the silvery-grey meteorite are complemented by the subtle glitter of deep blue aventurine and the glow of pure white grand feu enamel. This harmonious interplay of materials, colour and surface pattern is complemented by the warmth and richness of the pink gold case and dial details.
Found in Namibia, the Gibeon meteorite chosen for this watch is an iron-nickel alloy with an octahedrite crystal structure, formed by the cooling of the asteroid fragment in outer space over the course of billions of years before it crashed to earth in prehistoric times. The abstract geometric patterns of the intersecting crystal structures shimmer gently when the material catches the light, their irregular arrangement making every slice of meteorite subtly different from all others.
In addition to the meteorite inlaid on the German silver bridges, a disc of meteorite sits at the centre of the time display dial, surrounded by a ring of aventurine with applied indexes. On the chronograph display, an aventurine disc is encircled by a ring of white grand feu enamel, marked with elapsed seconds. The Day/Night display comprises a 24-hour plate on which two gold semi-circles are applied, one each for day and night. The white day section is decorated with hand-guilloché, hand-engraved sunrays and an applied polished pink gold sun; the night section features applied polished pink gold crescent moon and stars, set on a rich blue background.
Asymmetrical yet perfectly balanced, these three overlapping dials are layered, adding visual depth to the watch face – and, despite tempting glimpses of the movement, drawing the eye irresistibly to the tourbillon as it spins in space, with no immediately visible means of support.
It is on the back of the movement that the meteorite truly takes centre stage. A lively yet subtle mixture of colour and texture – blued screws, ruby jewels, the shiny aspect of the hand-chamfered and hand- polished jewel countersinks, bridges and plates, and the matt finish of the brushed borders of the German silver plates – offsets the abstract geometric patterns of the meteorite, which adorns all of the plates and bridges.
A skill mastered by very few craftsmen in the world, meteorite inlay requires a rare degree of precision and dexterity. First, the artisan must hollow out the surface of the German silver plate or bridge, to a depth that exactly matches the thickness of the meteorite fragment, leaving only a fine fillet of German silver at the borders. Once the new surface has been polished, the meteorite must be laid so that its edges fit seamlessly within the complex, curving borders and its surface lies exactly flush with them, to form a completely flat and unified plane. It is work of the utmost refinement and precision, measured in fractions of a millimetre.
Such exacting work complements the remarkable precision of the Gyrotourbillon mechanism. Exceedingly rare and complex, this multi-axis tourbillon comprises two cages, set at two different angles, turning opposite directions, at different speeds, with a blued spherical balance spring beating like a heart in their centre. In the absence of a tourbillon bridge, the cantilevered all-aluminium cages of Gyrotourbillon 3 appear to be suspended in space.
Hand-wound movement, calibre 176, incorporates a fully integrated chronograph, which displays the seconds on a traditional round dial and elapsed minutes on an instantaneously jumping digital counter.
Conceived and crafted for true connoisseurs of art and mechanics, the new Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 ‘Meteorite’ represents the highest expression of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s codes.
Jaeger-Lecoultre Presents The Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste At The Venice International Film Festival
In 2019, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates the 15th year of its partnership with one of the most prestigious events in cinema, the Venice International Film Festival. Jaeger-LeCoultre has been the main sponsor of the film festival for over a decade, most notably by honouring personalities who have made significant contributions to contemporary cinema with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award.
The best films can redefine the most quotidian experiences, elevating life to art. In line with this approach, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste features a different perspective on time itself, with an orbital flying tourbillon that makes a complete turn of the dial over the course of 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This unusual time unit is the length of one sidereal day, calculated with reference to the more distant stars instead of the Sun.
The dial itself depicts the night sky of the Northern hemisphere, showcasing the constellations of the zodiac calendar framed by an outer ring displaying their associated symbols. A tiny gold marker, seen just beyond the orbit of the flying tourbillon, revolves around the dial annually, an indication of where we are within this alternative and ancient star calendar.
Differentiating this model of the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste from previous versions is its contemporary and arresting new design. At first glance, the dial has been simplified in terms of textures and indications, but it has in fact gained an additional dimension which is visible only in low light. The hour markers and constellations have been filled with Super-LumiNovaTM, evoking the glow of heavenly bodies on a clear night.
An elegant and contemporary case, part of the new generation of case design set by this January’s Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel, encloses the 334-component calibre 946 of the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste. A complex blend of surface textures, from satin finish to microblasting and mirror polish, comes together in a 43mm white-gold case that perfectly complements the deep blue dial and the roseate hue of the constantly beating gold balance wheel.
In both its mechanical and aesthetic aspects, the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste takes us beyond the everyday. It is the rare timepiece that captures the rhythms of daily life in parallel with the movements of the universe.
An Affinity for the Extraordinary
Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed unparalleled expertise in a wide range of horological métiers since it was founded in Le Sentier in 1833. Today, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre practices no fewer than 180 watchmaking and watchrelated skills in its Vallée de Joux facility, many of them honed over decades and enhanced by in-house innovation.
The orbital flying tourbillon featured in the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste was first seen in the 2010 Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication, a chiming masterwork that exemplifies the savoirfaire of Jaeger-LeCoultre and its role in expanding the field of high complication.
The flying tourbillon is uniquely combined with yet another area of mechanical watchmaking dominance for Jaeger-LeCoultre the sidereal indication of time, which appears in both masculine and feminine collections of La Grande Maison.
Following the successful launch of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva last year, the Grande Maison is extending the Polaris line with a special new creation: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date (limited edition). Produced in a limited series of 800 pieces, the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date combines the Manufacture’s high-watchmaking expertise with contemporary proportions, vintage design motifs, and several important aesthetic changes.
A new watch with classic appeal
Drawing inspiration from the 1970 Polaris II, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date features a new hand- lacquered, blue double-gradient dial with sunrayed, grained and opaline finish, unique to this special model. The central disc and main dial now each incorporate a shimmering, color-change effect – from deep turquoise to a brilliant shade of royal blue. The blue rubber Clous de Paris strap, also unique to the model, is color-matched to the inner bezel, which, like the original Memovox Polaris and Polaris II, rotates for added functionality.
Keeping with the signature look of the Polaris collection, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is instantly recognizable thanks to its elongated Arabic numerals, trapezoidal hour markers, and baton-style hands. These elements are each treated with Super-LumiNovaTM to provide maximum legibility in low-light scenarios. For this application, the luminescent coating is vanilla-tinted, another nod to the famed Polaris watches of the 1960s and 1970s. Still, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is a fundamentally modern creation. Hewn from stainless steel, the case measures 42mm in diameter and has two prominent crowns—one to adjust the time, the other to control the aforementioned rotating bezel. Incorporating brushed and hand-polished surfaces, the case’s graceful appearance belies its real-world sporting credentials, as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is water resistant to 200 meters.
Inside, a self-winding mechanical movement delivers all the precision and craftsmanship one would expect from Jaeger-LeCoultre. The in-house Calibre 899A/1 faithfully keeps the seconds, minutes, hours, and date (displayed through a dedicated window at the three o’clock position) while offering a power reserve of 38 hours. It’s secured by a closed caseback, which has four special engravings, including a SCUBA diving insignia, the Jaeger-LeCoultre crest, and the phrase “1000 HOURS CONTROL”, denoting the watch has undergone testing of the movement before and after being cased up as well as on the fully assembled watch beyond official timing tests before leaving the Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. Finally, the words “Limited edition – One of 800” are inscribed near backing’s outer edge.
An evolving tradition
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is the latest addition to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris collection, which is inspired by the iconic Memovox Polaris. This historic model was developed at the suggestion of the American market, and produced between 1965 and 1968. Today, the original Memovox remains synonymous with adventure and technical innovation, as it introduced a revolutionary amplified underwater alarm function for divers. The watch is also remembered for its distinct, sophisticated design code: a three-ring concentric dial layout, rotating inner bezel, and multi-crown case. The new Jaeger- LeCoultre Polaris collection pays homage by continuing to carry these visual elements, but has been entirely redesigned for the modern era, with shorter lugs, a slimmer bezel, ergonomic crowns, and a sapphire glass box crystal.
Capturing the pure essence of femininity, the Rendez-Vous collection has been reimagined this year as part of The Art of Precision theme. With a prong setting brought to life with the most meticulous and striking jewellery techniques, the new Dazzling Rendez-Vous pay tribute to the highest form of precision, both in craftsmanship and creative passion.
In addition to the Dazzling Rendez-Vous Night & Day (available in white gold or in pink gold) and the Dazzling Rendez-Vous Moon (in white gold) launched at 2019 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), Jaeger-LeCoultre is delighted to present the new Dazzling Rendez-Vous Red at the occasion of the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival.
Red: the colour of nobility, energy, passion, wisdom and good fortune. The colour of confident femininity – extroverted and undeniably glamorous.
With Dazzling Rendez-Vous Red, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents its emblematic Night & Day function in a radiant new setting that combines pink gold, white mother-of-pearl, white diamonds and the rich glow of rubies.
Created in the spirit of jewellery watches, Dazzling Rendez-Vous Red showcases La Grande Maison’s uncompromising attention to detail. To highlight the impressive rubies that encircle the watch case, its master jewellers have opted for a prong setting, one of the most demanding of jewellery techniques. Requiring extreme precision, each of the 36 rubies is held in place by tiny gold spikes. The master gem-setters spend hours meticulously positioning the stones one by one, mounting them high, to minimise the presence of the metal and allow light to pass through the stones from all angles. This creates an impression that the rubies could almost be floating, and intensifies their crimson-red glow.
A circle of brilliant-cut diamonds completes the bezel and within it, gleaming like moonlight, is the silvery-white mother-of-pearl dial – a perfect foil for the Night & Day display. Visible through an opening at 6 o’clock, a golden crescent moon alternates with a shining sun, as night turns to day in an endless dance of time.
The row of 72 diamonds on the bezel is echoed by a ring of 47 smaller diamonds on the inner dial. Set between these diamond circles, the pink gold Floral numerals stand out in warm contrast to the iridescent white dial. Adding a final flourish, 12 diamonds are set in the lugs and a further diamond in the crown.
As with the dial and case, Jaeger-LeCoultre allows no compromise inside the watch. Visible through the transparent sapphire case-back, Calibre 898B/1 is a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and produced within the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture.
This sumptuous timepiece is completed by a strap in ruby-red alligator leather with a subtly shiny finish, fastened with a pink gold pin buckle.
Dazzling Rendez-Vous Red
Dimensions: 36 mm
Thickness: 9.80 mm
Calibre: 898B/1– Automatic
Case: Pink gold
Water resistance: 5 bar
Functions: Hours/Minutes, Night & Day indication
Power reserve: 38 hours
Gemstones: 132 diamonds – 0.75 carats and 36 rubies – 3.24 carats
Limited to 8 pieces
Inspired by the parallels between the worlds of fine watchmaking and film, Jaeger-LeCoultre has enjoyed a close relationship with the cinematic arts over more than a decade, including its partnership with Shanghai International Film Festival. These are worlds in which creativity stems from a singular relationship between technical skill and artistic flair, where heritage does not simply mean history; it is the foundation on which the culture of the present and future are built. For Jaeger-LeCoultre, ensuring that its cultural heritage will be maintained is a core value – one that is embodied in its collaboration with Shanghai International Film Festival in an ongoing project to restore some of the great classics of Chinese cinematic history.
A Rendez-Vous With Time
On the opening night of this year’s 22nd edition of Shanghai International Film Festival, JaegerLeCoultre hosted a charity dinner, where it donated a specially customised timepiece for auction. The following day, Jaeger-LeCoultre and its Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Rénier, hosted a programme of events to celebrate the project and raise public awareness of its immense cultural value. It began with the unveiling of a new short film, A Rendez-Vous with Time. Starring the Chinese actress Ni Ni, it underlines the Grande Maison’s commitment to film restoration and reflects on the relationships between the past, the future and the making of memories.
This was followed by a panel discussion between Ni Ni and another brilliant young talent, the British actor Nicholas Hoult. A friend of the Maison, whose connection to Jaeger-LeCoultre dates back to the Venice Film Festival of 2015, Hoult flew to China specially for this occasion. Joined on the panel by Catherine Rénier, they explored the parallels between watchmaking and filmmaking, and the symbiotic relationship between cultural heritage and the future. Both Nicholas Hoult and Ni Ni firmly believe that their generation has an important role to play in passing on the value of classic cinema to future generations.
A Rendez-Vous With Flowers Of Shanghai
Highlight of the programme was the premiere of the restored version of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 1998 masterpiece, Flowers of Shanghai, the subject of last year’s restoration project.
One of three masterpieces made during the 1990s by the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, Flowers of Shanghai is based on the 1892 novel Biographies of Flowers by the Seashore, written by Han Bangquing and later translated into Mandarin by the celebrated novelist Eileen Chang. It is set in the demi-monde of 1880s Shanghai and immerses the viewer in the richness, emotional intensity and claustrophobia of that world. With its intense dialogue, sumptuous design and beautiful amber-toned lighting, all captured by the remarkable work of cinematographer, Mark Lee Ping-Bin, it represents Hou’s great contribution to cinematic art.
Recapturing the visual beauty of the original was a challenge and to ensure the desired outcome, the director and cinematographer were directly involved. A team of language and culture experts worked to refine the subtitles in order to best capture both what was said and the meaning of what was left unspoken.
Like fine watchmaking, film restoration requires the utmost patience and precision, combining technical sophistication with artistic finesse. The aim is not simply to arrest decay but to bring a film back to a version most faithful to its original release in every respect. As with watchmaking, advances in technology are a great aid to the process, although they can never entirely replace the craftsman’s hand or the artist’s eye.
Time at the Heart
The restoration project focuses on classical Chinese masterpieces and has so far resulted in saving 12 films for posterity. Important cultural artefacts, rarely shown on the big screen, they include The Spring River Flows East, Two Stage Sisters, A Better Tomorrow, Endless Love, Outside the Window, Painting Soul… The film chosen for restoration next year is New Year Sacrifice (Zhu Fu in Mandarin) directed by Hu Sang and originally released in 1956. The screenwriter Yan Xia (who was China’s Deputy Minister of Culture at the time) adapted the screenplay for New Year Sacrifice from a famous short story written in 1924 by Lu Xun.
Time is the essence of both watchmaking and filmmaking: capturing moments in time, displaying time and expressing a sense of time. It’s about recording memories and creating memories. And with every classic film that it helps to restore, Jaeger-LeCoultre underlines its passion and dedication to the art of time.
Since its founding, Jaeger-LeCoultre has made precision an art form in its own right, balancing skills and artistry with sophistication and aesthetical finesse. In keeping with the inventive spirit of 1833, the artisans of the Manufacture create collections which have always been at the forefront of fine watchmaking: Reverso, Master, Rendez-Vous and Atmos. This rich legacy built by the Grande Maison over generations serves as a constant source of inspiration in pushing the boundaries with unprecedented timepieces.
Interviewed by Pascal Grenacher