For many years we wanted to organize a Manufacture Tour with Jaeger Lecoultre. Because Jaeger Lecoultre is one the most interesting watchmakers, because our site celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, because our relations with the brand are long and friendly.
We wanted to make it happen in 2018 and in 2019 we were on to make it, it was in the tube and... The Covid came. With Jaeger Lecoultre, we decided that once we have a " time target ", we'll do it.
Which happened on the 9th of June. Alas, some friends couldn't come, for professional or sanitary reasons, but we managed to be 12 ( of 14 ) to be able to honor this visit. 12 coming from France, Germany, England and, special dedicace to them, from California!
For such a special event, we wanted a very special theme, and chiming watches are among the most interesting. Needless to say that from the second half of the 19th Century to our days, Lecoultre and Jaeger Lecoultre are among the best. Keep in mind that chiming watches are Grande Sonnerie, Minute Repeaters and... Alarm watches.
So we decided to arrive one day early to spend some time together. The new Hotel des Horlogers was the perfect place, for the rooms, the location and the food.
Do you recognize the Hotel Des Horlogers? Honestly I didn't.
After a great dinner with some great wines from Bourgogne, a bottle of Macallan ( Thanks, Patrick Y ) it was time to have a 4 hours sleep before D Day.
The visit was organized around two parts: A session about Chiming watches and a visit of different workshops and places at the Manufacture.
The Chiming session:
For three hours, we had many technical explanations from Eduardo, one of Jaeger Lecoultre engineers.
Eduardo explained to us that on the 5 million watches made every year, only 200 or 300 were minute repeaters, all brands included.
Most probably the technical challenge represented by minute repeaters is the reason for their scarcity.
Matthieu came with some vintage marvels, showing all the skill of the Manufacture.
From ... 1895:
Or another one which is out of topic, but beauty is never out of topic. A vintage pocket Chrongraphe, signed Jaeger, from the early 1900's.
We had the pleasure to see the lovely Reverso Minute Repeater from the 90's, too:
Don Justino was there... He felt like at home, with his Portable Coffee:
After all these technical explanations, Eduardo showed us that making a good minute repeater, I mean one which will sound well, requires minutia and expertise. It is all about tenths of millimeters, for a perfect sound tuning.
He brought with him one instruments of torture:
With these tools, we tried to find the perfect length for the gongs. It was all but evident, believe me. But we managed to find an acceptable outcome...
Eduardo explained to us the different innovations for JLC minute repeaters, such as the welded gongs to the sapphire, the Trebuchets, the helicoidal gongs... We were like children in front of a candy store...
Then we had a lunch at the Manufacture Restaurant,
My friend Francis, the designer of the Amvox II ( but not only ) joined us for the lunch. It was a real pleasure to meet him again, after all these years.
Before attending the second part of the visit, some workshops, like prototypage, where we could see how much work required the finishings of some parts, like a hammer, the beveled bridges, the perlage, côtes soleillées and so on.
The next workshop is my favorite, the Spécialités Horlogères, where we could see some masterpieces from Jaeger Lecoultre. Laurent, the watchmaker, pleased us as he made them chime.
The Hybris Mechanica 11,
The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication first generation,
And second generation:
The Gyrotourbillon Five:
The Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar:
And the Reverso Minute Repeater in rose gold, from last year:
A dizzy experience...
Then we ended with a too short visit of the Heritage Gallery with Matthieu, with the monumental Wall of Movements:
It was sadly time to take the shuttle back to Geneva.
Or maybe he was dreaming about his next visit to the Manufacture!
I can only recommend to everybody to contact the Manufacture for a visit. It is an unforgettable experience...
PS: Special Thanks to my contacts and friends at Jaeger Lecoultre, Dorothée and Natassja. They worked a lot on the organization, the logistics, and they really made it possible.