BY ERIK SLAVEN
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control collection is celebrating 30 years of excellence with two updated models that bring steel bracelets to the traditionally elegant, leather-clad series. That’s not to say that we’ve got full-blown Seamaster or Royal Oak variants here, but the updates bring a sporty vibe that doesn’t compromise the classic, almost vintage-inspired aesthetic of the series. Think of a Rolls Royce Phantom with a slightly aggressive paint job. The Master Control Calendar and Chronograph Calendar are already among the best of the brand’s semi-formal watches, but this 2022 refresh with all-steel armor should appeal to a younger crowd with a sportier, more contemporary look.
The first of the new pair is the Master Control Calendar (ref. Q4148120) with a versatile size of 40mm in diameter and thickness of 10.95mm. The brushed and polished stainless steel case already has a formal and (somewhat) sporty mix, but the new matching bracelet really brings out the latter. Polished H-links with brushed center links manage to be casual and a bit rugged without losing that elegance JLC is known for. Links can be removed via screws (no pins here) and it secures to the wrist with a triple folding clasp. It’s also equipped with quick-release levers, so if you want a more formal look, just swap to the included leather strap (with folding clasp) easily and without tools. Versatility is the theme. The silver-brushed dial has a timeless aesthetic that reminds me of Blancpain’s Villeret Moonphase Automatic with the pointer date, large 6 o’clock moon phase and day/month in separate windows below 12 o’clock. Dial elements remain thin and fairly elegant, almost contrasting with the more rugged bracelet, but the balance works to make this an all-occasion piece.
Powering the watch is the in-house caliber 866AA automatic that features a silicon escapement, 70-hour power reserve and 4Hz frequency. There are sapphire crystals front and back, so the movement is on full display with blued screws, Côtes de Genève and an open-worked gold rotor. The piece has JLC’s 1,000 Hours Control certification from a rigorous testing process introduced with the Master Control line, and it comes with an eight-year warranty. The retail price is EUR 15,400.
The second watch is the Master Control Chronograph Calendar (ref. Q413812J), which combines a chronograph with the full calendar. Despite the more complicated movement and dial, the case remains well sized at 40mm in diameter and only 12.05mm thick. The dial matches the Calendar model with a silver-brushed finish and has a tri-compax layout with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, pointer date at 6 o’clock with integrated moon phase and small seconds at 9 o’clock. Day/month windows are again positioned under 12 o’clock, but are much closer together this time. The same bracelet and leather strap combo are included, and the complicated dial with additional functionality highlight this piece.
Powering the watch is the in-house 759 automatic, an integrated chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch, and it includes a silicon escapement, 65-hour power reserve and 4Hz frequency. As seen from the exhibition case back, it’s visibly is similar to the aforementioned caliber 866AA, but with the addition of a column-wheel on full display. Of course, it also has the 1,000 Hours Control certification. This one retails for EUR 18,100.
Neither of these watches are cheap, but fairly well priced for such high-end offerings from JLC. My initial expectations were north of EUR 20,000.
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