Nope, no Reverso to be seen at Watches & Wonders this year. Jaeger-LeCoultre made things complicated for 2022 by presenting a variety of round-cased watches. At the top of the list, there’s the Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948. Just below it, you will find the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Galaxia in pink gold and the Atomium version in white gold. And last, but certainly not least, the brand from Le Sentier introduces a complicated athlete with endless stamina. It’s the sporty 42mm Polaris Perpetual Calendar, which comes in either rugged steel or sophisticated pink gold.

At first, I thought I was missing something. That I overlooked something. That I didn’t see the full picture. But I did. And to my surprise, there really was no Reverso taking the spotlight at Watches & Wonders 2022. But no worries. The new, round Master and Polaris offerings are just as much “real” Jaeger-LeCoultre watches as the iconoclastic Reverso is. The new Master watches dazzle with both technical specifications and artistic decorations. And the bold and rugged yet refined new Polaris Perpetual Calendar will have you forget anything reversibly rectangular that has been on your mind.

Jaeger-LeCoultre made things complicated for Watches and Wonders 2022

Jaeger-LeCoultre Perpetual Calendar from 1937 — Picture courtesy of Stephen Pulvirent Bloomberg

Polaris Perpetual Calendar

The steel or pink gold Polaris Perpetual Calendar watches come in a substantial 42 × 11.97mm case. A sporty size, wouldn’t you say? But the contents of the case are traditional, albeit with a modern twist. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 868AA has been developed especially for the new Polaris Perpetual Calendar. Interestingly, the traditional twist is the historic fact that Jaeger-LeCoultre first presented a perpetual calendar wristwatch back in 1937 — a rectangular watch, but not a Reverso. The Calibre 868AA inside the Polaris QP is an evolution of an in-house perpetual calendar movement that debuted in 2013. The upgrades are a retrograde display of the Southern Hemisphere moon phases, complementing the classical Northern Hemisphere moonphase display. There’s also an increase in power reserve to 70 hours.

Polaris Perpetual Calendar, Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945, Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948

How very Polaris of you

A “very Polaris” feature is the rotating inner bezel — a signature of the line — that offers the practical function of measuring elapsed time. The dial is lacquered in a deep gradient-blue color, and its hue is very much in line with the Polaris Mariner Memovox. The graduated blue suggests the transition from day to night, and it just looks so darn nice.

JLC has tried to make reading this piece easy with crisp and clear calendar indications displayed in three recessed sub-dials. The date, month, and day indicators are at 9, 12, and 3 o’clock respectively, with the year displayed within the month indicator. At 6 o’clock, the moon shows itself, and the retrograde display for the Southern Hemisphere frames a classical display for its Northern counterpart. A small security zone indicator shows red between the hours of 20:00 and 04:00 to warn the user not to adjust the time or calendar indications.

Polaris Perpetual Calendar, Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945, Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948

The Polaris Perpetual Calendar’s keyword is “easy”

The 42mm cases, in steel or pink gold, show the typical Polaris form. Firm lines, thin bezels, glass-box crystals, and a mix of brushed and polished surfaces are all present. And a transparent sapphire case back plus an open-worked pink gold winding rotor reveal the delicate decorative finishes on the movement. Maybe most importantly, the Polaris Perpetual Calendar is easy to operate and adjust. The top crown rotates the inner bezel, and the lower crown is for setting the time and winding the watch. For ease of operation and comfort, the calendar settings are adjusted via a single pusher. The steel model (Q9088180) comes with both an interchangeable three-link steel bracelet and a textured rubber strap. I can’t wait to spend a few days with this watch, which gives off some IWC GST Perpetual Calendar vibes (in a good way, don’t get me wrong).

The luxurious pink gold Polaris Perpetual Calendar (Q9082680) comes with two different strap options — an interchangeable rubber strap and an elegant alligator leather strap with a folding buckle. The stainless steel version is priced at €31,000. The pink gold version will retail for €46,400.

Polaris Perpetual Calendar, Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945, Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948

Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Galaxia and Atomium

Not new in essence, but a fresh expression of celestial complications. Jaeger-LeCoultre reinterprets its Grande Complication Calibre 945 with the pink gold Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Galaxia (Q5262470) and the white gold Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Atomium (Q5263481). Expect only five watches of each version. Exclusivity is also guaranteed through stratospheric prices – €550,000 for the Galaxia and €575,000 for the Atomium – and a spectacular expression of artistic creativity and mastery of decorative crafts. The dials of both 45 × 16.05mm watches showcase the skills of the brand’s Métiers Rares atelier. Furthermore they introduce grisaille enamel to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s repertoire of rare artistic crafts for the first time.

Pleasing to the eye and ear

All this watch artistry happens to takes place on the foundation of a movement that is technically highly ingenious. The in-house Calibre 945 turns 22 this year, but it hasn’t lost an ounce of its charisma. The movement with a Cosmotourbillon — a celestial flying tourbillon — unites a sky chart with a celestial vault, a zodiac calendar, and a minute repeater. The Cosmotourbillon makes a complete circuit of the dial in one sidereal day. So not in 24 hours, but in exactly 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds. And a Northern Hemisphere sky vault tracks the positions of the constellations in real time as seen from the Vallée de Joux. But there’s more. There’s also something for the ear to enjoy, since the exquisite chimes of a minute repeater complement the timekeeping.

A watch that shows you heaven

The essence of both Master Hybris Artistica models is the way they interpret astronomical timekeeping for the wrist. The dials of both watches display our link to the cosmos. Both the design and the technical features bring the galaxy to life in a microscopical way. The pink gold Galaxia shows an inner celestial gold disc with grisaille enamel depicting the planets, as well as the star map and names of the constellations transferred over the enamel. And the white gold Atomium takes its name from the delicate filigree of silvered metal that forms the outer section of the dome. Its shape echoes the lines that link the stars to form constellations. Midnight-blue grisaille enamel and a transferred star map make it possible for you to connect with the cosmos. In conclusion, one thing is for sure — both watches show you a glimpse of heaven.

Polaris Perpetual Calendar, Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945, Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948

Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948

The Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 shows what kind of magic the artisans working in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares atelier can do. Also, the watch is a new artistic interpretation of the Universal Time, and it unites artistry and technical prowess. The domed, open-worked, and enameled dial takes 70 hours of labor to complete. The Universal Tourbillon rotates once every 60 seconds and also makes a complete circuit of the dial every 24 hours. Certainly not features a watchmaker can put together between two coffee breaks!

A map that measures a mere 25.5mm in diameter

Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 (Q52834E1) comes in a 43 × 14.13mm white gold case, and its exceptional dial is made of several parts. As I mentioned before, it takes 70 long hours to create. That’s probably part of the reason why JLC only builds twenty of these Master Grande Tradition watches. But once it’s done, the dial shows a map of the world as seen from the North Pole. Astonishingly, the map, which measures just 25.5mm in diameter, floats above the dial on a domed skeleton formed by the longitudes and latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Further, the outline of the continents is cut from a sheet of white gold and decorated with champlevé enamel — a term that translates literally as “raised field”.

Beneath the dome, a disc of vivid blue translucent lacquer applied over a wavy guilloché pattern depicts the movement of the sea and the lunar influence on its tides as well. Everything about this watch is artistic. But there’s also a practical side to it, and it’s not that complicated to read. The hour marked on the ring adjacent to any given city name displays the current time in that city. And it shouldn’t be too hard to operate, either. You set the time with the crown, which synchronizes all the time zones around the world. And once you arrive at a new destination, you set the local time through the same crown. That crown moves just the hour hand in one-hour jumps forward or backward. This allows the minutes and seconds to continue running accurately.

The tourbillon JLC constructed is a visual showstopper, with the mechanical “whirlwind” mimicking Earth by making a complete 360-degree revolution. It rotates with the city ring once every 24 hours, thus always indicating the right time in each city.

Find more information on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s official website.

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