One of the cool things of being a watch blogger is that you get to try some really nice watches. One of the watch we had in our possession for a while was this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee in platinum. That’s right, platinum. In hommage to 180 years of watchmaking from this company from Le Sentier, they created this ultra thin Master in platinum. The watch is just 4.05mm thick but even more astonishing is the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 849 movement that is just 1.85mm thick.
This Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee watch only has an hour hand and a minute hand otherwise the movement would probably became too ‘bulky’ for its 4.05mm thick case. The caliber 849 movement consists of 123 parts, with a power reserve of 36 hours and ticks at 21.600 beats per hour. Jaeger-LeCoultre is well-known for its large portfolio of in-house developed and manufactured movements, and this caliber 849 reflects everything needed to create a super (or ultra) thin movement.
Thin watches like this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee are normally not fit for me personally, as I have quite large wrists. However, its platinum case with a diameter of 39mm suited me fine and looked amazingly good with a suit and a shirt. The alligator strap with tang buckle (also platinum) were very comfortable and well crafted and finished. Dress watches like this should come on leather if you ask me, and a tang buckle ensured that the watch wears thin on the back side of your wrist as well.
Just to show you how thin this watch really is, our photographer Bert Buijsrogge took a picture of this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee and a USB key.
Although this Jubilee edition is made out of platinum, due to the dimensions of the watch it is still to be considered light-weight. I really had to get used to this in the first few days of wearing the Master Ultra Thin, as I felt the urge to check whether it was still here (of course it was).
The silver-grained dial with black hour markers and dauphin shaped hands is one of the best readable and clean dials I’ve ever seen. The Jaeger-LeCoultre logo and typography is proudly positioned at 12 o’clock and below you will notice the founding year of the company, 1833. Personally, that is something that could have been left-out by Jaeger-LeCoultre. However, I assume that Jaeger-LeCoultre collectors and enthusiasts will not mind having it on the dial.
Also, as you can see on the picture below, the crown is rather small but I found it easy to grasp and use. A full winding of this movement will result in a power reserve of approximately a day and a half. Enough to get through the day and in time to have it fully wound again somewhere during the next morning. I always wind my manual wind watches every morning, as I find it more difficult to remember when I did it last time it was necessary than to just do this little fun task every morning as a ritual.
The case back of this platinum Master Ultra Thin Jubilee watch is also quite interesting. While some of you might have preferred to have a transparent caseback, I guess it requires a bit more ‘thickness’ due to the sapphire crystal that needs to be in there. Also, I personally do not mind closed casebacks. Especially when they are made from precious metals such as platinum. It also leaves space for someone who wants to present it as a gift and wants to have it engraved.
Bert took a wrist shot himself of this watch as well, as you can see below. As you can see, this watch looks nice on large wrists as I’ve stated before in this article. 39mm is a great size for watches, especially dress watches for formal occasions, and should fit most men. The lugs make the watch look a bit larger anyway so anyone should get away with 39mm.
The price tag on this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Jubilee in platinum (reference 1296520) is 14.500 Euro (including Dutch VAT of 21%). That might seem high for a time-only piece, but let’s not forget the use of platinum and the skills required to design and manufacture a movement as thin as 1.85mm and making sure the watch case (with crystal, caseback, dial and hands) only measures 4.05mm in thickness.
Earlier this year, I was at the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture in Le Sentier, Switzerland and I was just amazed by the level of craftsmanship performed in-house. While I have been at other manufacturers as well and seen quite a bit in all these years, I rank the visit to the Jaeger-LeCoultre workshops as one of the most impressive I’ve ever witnessed. Even for calibers that are long gone from production, they produce new parts if necessary to make a vintage watch running again. Their skills to do (almost) everything in-house is a valuable asset for collectors who want to be able to have their timepieces serviced periodically and especially in the years to come.
You could say that at Jaeger-LeCoultre the watch is designed around the movement (like it should be, in my opinion) but without having to make concessions with regards to design and functionality.
To sum things up, I enjoyed wearing this Master Ultra Thin a lot and it proved me wrong that I need a large watch per se. This 39mm watch suited me fine and I could really get used to wear a watch like this on formal occasions. The JLC Master Ultra Thin reference 1296520 is limited to 880 pieces only and was introduced during the SIHH 2013. It is a very well crafted and designed timepiece with high finish on all aspects and with a comfortable high-end leather alligator strap.
More information can be found at www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.