Jaeger-LeCoultre has always been one of the most accomplished and technically proficient watchmakers on the planet.
The 189-year-old firm, which remains one of the only true manufactures in the Swiss watch industry, is world-renowned for its technical innovations, such as the magical Atmos clock, which is as close to perpetual timekeeping as humans can get. JLC is responsible for 1,200 calibres, 400 patents and hundreds more inventions. There’s a reason they get called “the watchmaker’s watchmaker”.
Their latest high-profile releases, unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2022 in Geneva, are no exception. JLC’s concept for the fair is called ‘The Stellar Odyssey’, as all of their releases have something to do with the stars and astronomy. The watch that epitomises this theme above all others, however, is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945.
It’s a bit of a mouthful, sure, but it’s also one hell of a watch. An incredibly creative reinterpretation of JLC’s mind-blowing Grande Complication Calibre 945, it perfectly demonstrates the breadth of JLC’s talents. It might just be the most beautiful watch of Watches & Wonders, and that’s saying something.
Originally created in 2010, the Calibre 945 combines a sky chart with a celestial vault, a zodiacal calendar, a minute repeater, and perhaps most impressively, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Cosmotourbillon – a celestial flying tourbillon. It’s a true triumph of watchmaking.
In the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945, the movement has been tweaked so now the Cosmotourbillon serves an additional function: measuring the passing of sidereal time by circuiting anti-clockwise along with the rest of the main dial structure of the watch. To observe this in fast-forward is captivating as the dial runs contrary to the hands.
What’s sidereal time? Well, it’s a timekeeping system that astronomers use to locate celestial objects. A sidereal day is subtly shorter than a solar (‘normal’) day at 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds as a sidereal day is defined by Earth’s rotation measured in relation to more distant fixed stars, whereas our familiar 24-hour solar day is measured by Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
It might seem like a minute difference to us normal folk, but in the world of astronomy – and the loftiest heights of Swiss watchmaking at Jaeger-LeCoultre – little differences mean a lot.
The Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 comes in two variants: the ‘Galaxia’ in pink gold, and the ‘Atomium’ in white gold, which both have different dial treatments. In the Galaxia for example, the outer part of the dome that makes up the dial features a depiction of planets in grisaille enamel – the first time JLC has used such a complicated technique.
In comparison, the Atomium’s outer dial section features a matrix of silvered metal which recalls not only the lines that link the stars to form constellations, but also the atomic structure of exotic space metals (or indeed the famous Atomium museum in Brussels) which lends a beautiful three-dimensional quality to the watch.
Both variants are equally as beautiful, and both represent the absolute tippy-top of modern watchmaking. At once both romantic and extremely futuristic, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 is an absolute moonshot.