From Polynesian wayfinding techniques developed thousands of years ago to the seafarers who sailed their ships across vast unknown oceans during the Age of Exploration, knowledge of the stars has always been linked to travel.
More than a celestial roadmap, all measurements of time also have their origins in astronomy. And at this year’s Watches & Wonders, the “Grande Maison,” Jaeger-LeCoultre, has made the study of the skies its theme, referring to its 2022 timepieces as “The Stellar Odyssey.”
Let’s observe three of the astronomical phenomena the brand recently unveiled.
This week at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar unveiled the Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948, marking the first time a world-time complication has been united with a flying tourbillon.
The dial reflects the complexity of this in-house mechanism. At the center is a map of the world as seen from the North Pole. Instead of using a traditional flat Earth image, this domed map hovers above the dial and – together with the universal tourbillon and city ring – makes a complete 360-degree revolution every 24 hours to display the correct time in each zone.
Despite all this information, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar Master Grande Tradition Calibre 948 is easy to read with hour is indicated on a ring adjacent to the city ring. And it’s simple to operate – on arrival at a new destination, local time is set by the crown, which automatically synchronizes all of the time zones around the world in one hour jumps forward or backward.
Limited to 20 pieces, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar Master Grande Tradition’s 43mm x 14.13mm white gold case is made up of more than 80 parts, with a convex bezel, broad bevels on the lugs, and hollowed-out lug sides creating a dynamic silhouette. Contrasting micro-blasted, polished, and satin-brushed surfaces create a lovely play of light. It is presented on an alligator leather strap with a deployant buckle.
Using its expertise in celestial complications, Jaeger-LeCoultre has reinterpreted its Grande Complication Calibre 945 with two new additions: the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Galaxia in pink gold and Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Atomium in white gold. Both are limited to five pieces each.
The focus of these two timepieces is sidereal time – the measurement used by astronomers to track the apparent movement of the constellations across the night sky. Lasting precisely 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds, a sidereal day is defined by Earth’s rate of rotation measured relative to fixed. In contrast, a 24-hour solar day is measured by Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
These gorgeous pieces celebrate not just the scientific study of the stars but also provide a philosophical perspective by showcasing Jaeger-LeCoultre’s mastery of the decorative crafts. For example, the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945’s movement (which debuted in 2010) includes a sky chart with a celestial vault, a zodiac calendar, a minute repeater, and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Cosmotourbillon hand-decorated by the artisans in the Métiers Rares.
And because these exceptional 45 mm x 16.05 mm watches are also minute repeaters, a heavenly choir of chimes sings out the hours. We don’t have to tell you about the degree of difficulty needed to execute this complication. But it was a rewarding pursuit, with Jaeger-LeCoultre patenting several innovations, including crystal gongs, trebuchet hammers, and a silent governor.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar is the answer to a question that astronomers have been asking since ancient times: “How do we measure time when there are anomalies between the way we measure civil time and the celestial phenomena?” For example, a 365-day calendar year is almost six hours shorter than a solar year; this is why we have leap years.
And it for this reason we are excited to see Jaeger-LeCoultre finally introduce a perpetual calendar in the Polaris line.
Conceived as a robust, everyday watch, the Polaris Perpetual Calendar elegantly displays the correct date. Inside, the Calibre 868AA – a new version of the QP movement that first appeared in 2013 – automatically adjusts for these discrepancies and will not require manual correction until 2100. Moreover, using the latest production technology, the Calibre 868AA allows for a retrograde display of the moon phases, as seen from the Southern Hemisphere.
A graduated deep-blue lacquered dial evokes the transition from day to night. Meanwhile, three recessed and textured sub-dials display the date, month, and day calendar indications. A fourth sub-dial shows the moon phases with the previously mention retrograde display for the Southern Hemisphere framing a classic presentation for the Northern Hemisphere.
Both models measure 42mm in size. And while the steel edition is offered with both a three-link steel bracelet and textured rubber strap, the pink gold version comes with a sporty blue rubber strap and a more formal alligator strap with a folding buckle. To further adapt to variations in the seasons, the Polaris Perpetual Calendar features a newly developed interchangeable strap system that can be personalized from a range of colorful calfskin options.