Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB: Return of the Jedi!

Apr 12, 2007,17:07 PM

The 10th of April 2007 was quite possibly a landmark in watchmaking history ! Are you ready to believe me?


While we were so eager at discovering more about the new Duometre a Chronometre, the real star of the year at Jaeger-LeCoultre was still about appearing.


The last few minutes before light seemed probably like an eternity to the team members who had conceived, developed, constructed, tested, achieved the new Master Compressor Extreme Lab. That's not so often that you see the men and women at MJLC being so nervous, so excited, so exhilarated! The traditional Swiss understatement was gone after two years of intensive development!


Can you imagine what they did together ?


Last year we studied together the Master Tourbillon. http://www.tp178.com/wsw/jlcforum/mas_tourb_02.htm


I thought this watch was achieved but I was far from the truth. On this base of calibre 978 the Extreme LAB team developed calibre 988C.


What did they change ?


We know that watches need to be serviced from time to time. Lubrication is not for ever so our little machines have to be cleaned and lubricated again so that they can work flawlessly and stand as perfect chronometers. The absence of liquid lubricants or grease also means that the watch can stand a larger range of temperatures (-40 to +60 celsius).


What about changing all that and getting rid of all these oil and greases! A simple idea, just slightly more complicated to implement. Others have begun to work seriously on that, mainly around the escapement. Jaeger-LeCoultre itself has already replaced the traditionally lubricated automatic winding ball bearings with ceramic ball bearings without lubricant a few years back.


But the real challenge here is to replace ALL this short lived lubrication by real long term solutions. The parts need to be worked so that they don't need added lubricant anymore. The extensive use of high technology materials has allowed this achievement.


The principles of horology have not been changed, but extreme efficiency is again further enhanced.


The first improvement is the use of high tech materials, such as Easium™ carbonitride for making bearings, these bearings receiving the Molybdenum Disulfide (MOS2) coated steel pivots for instance for the balance staff without the need for any jewel.


It may seem to be something you know, but it is not!


The traditional red color of the pallet stones has also disappeared, being replaced by the formal elegance of some black crystalline diamonds, chosen for their efficiency much superior to "real" diamonds. No lubricant overthere anymore either! To some extent I guess that we could say that the "lubricant", if I may still use this word,  is build with and inside each part in itself, kind of "auto-lubrication".


Black crystalline diamond pallet stones


The tourbillon carriage is machined from blocks of a magnesium alloy. It is two and a half times lighter than titanium, helping to decrease losses due to friction.


The main barrel is also freed from any need for grease through the use of graphite powder. Graphite powder helps the bride to slide smoothly inside the drum when the mainspring has been wound beyond maximum power reserve by the automatic winding mechanism.


The silicon escape wheel


Isochronism of the balance spring has been optimized with a Phillips terminal curve and the creation of a "bend" in the center of the spring. This bend is "a distortion of the balance spring at a specific place, close to the collet pinning-point, and which at given moments modifies the rigidity of the spring and corrects the tendency of any spring to breathe in an off-centred manner".


The new balance and balance spring


The balance, no longer a wheel, has been re-designed to decrease the mechanical friction with the air, through reducing the surface of the arms. JLC research has concluded that a large surface of balance decreases its aerodynamic performances and increases the need for energy to maintain the oscillations. The new balance has been built in iridium platinum, the densest non-toxic physical body currently available, thus allowing for keeping the 11.5 mg x cm² inertia with a minimum aerodynamic loss of energy. The design of the balance arm has been carefully worked to decrease the mass/inertia ratio, allowing a more constant rate no matter the position, and consequently a more precise adjustment of the watch.


Adjustment is made using screws placed on the balance, like on all JLC automatic calibres now. Cadence is regulated to 28800 vibrations per hour.


Another view on an unfinished proto


The watch is really a Compressor series design, bringing to a further step the work initiated by Magali Metrailler a few years back. This design is definitely not for everybody, but I find it very consistent with the exceptional technical content and very pleasing to my taste.


Bridges are made of aluminium alloys, the center bridge being made of Ticalium®, aluminium reinforced with particles of titanium carbide. Hardness and resistance are improved by 20% without increasing the density.


The floating dial of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB


The case construction reflects the movement with the association of carbon (central part of case), silicon carbonitride (bezel) and grade 5 titanium (top and back of case). Three patents have been filed for this case: 1°) the original structure with an interior carbon fibre case fitted inside a titanium ring, 2°) the suspension mounting of the movement on a silent block made from a supple red polyurethane material, 3°) the notched adjustment of the strap fastening to ensure a perfect fit around the curve of the wrist.


The case construction in layers, missing here the titanium ring.


This automatic tourbillon watch gets two time zones with an AM/PM pointer indication at noon and a jumping date display.


The Jedi watch


The red touch is the combination of the red supple polyurethane silent block, the red hands, the red eloxed aluminium crown, and the red alcantara inside the leather on cordura canvas strap.


The case construction


The carbon fiber central part of the case


The rotor has been opimized with carbon fiber arms and a lighter and more rigid base. The oscillating weight is made in iridium platinum like the balance. The entire winding/time setting

mechanism is coated with nickel/PTFE to do without liquid lubricant.


The back view


The notched adjustment of the strap fastening


Another proto view on the back with the red silent block around the movement


The traditional wristshot still on my small wrist


So this extraordinary watch is definitely a world premiere, letting us hope for soon to come implementations of its technical advances in the affordable range of watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre. The rotor and balance may be the first subjects of implementation. For the happy few who can't wait but can afford, a small series will be produced and sold to the final customers, a la Ferrari FXX if I may say. If you're about treating yourself with a racing machine, you may want to have a closer look.


On top of a technical success, this watch is a testimony to the Manufacture innovation spirit. The Extreme LAB team be justly and rightfully proud of their first baby, they may just write the first page of the future of Jaeger-LeCoultre.




This message has been edited by Dje on 2007-04-19 15:31:50

More posts: CalibresDuometreFerrariLa FerrariMaster CompressorMaster Tourbillon

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Comments: view entire thread


Awesome! Remarkable report on a remarkable watch. . .

 By: Jack Forster : April 12th, 2007-19:28
. . .thanks Dje; this brings the notion of a sports tourbillon to a whole new level. So really this isn't a lubrication free watch per se; it's a 'dry lubricant' watch (except of course for the pallets) using PTFE (Teflon) in the train and graphite in the... 


 By: xarope : April 12th, 2007-20:25
It certainly looks very interesting, the dial is rather busy although I actually prefer it to the AMVOX 2 (heresy they say!). As with Jack I do question the durability of PTFE aka Teflon (hands up those who have teflon coated pots and pans and seen how sc... 

Jerome - wonderful horological reporting - my thanks. However, the watch while

 By: 219 : April 12th, 2007-20:53
technically impressive, the overall design leaves a great deal to be desired. As usual with MJLC the watch is a technical tour de force - if only they had housed the piece in a case that fitted the R&D on the inside. What is the point of the carbon fibre ... 

Nice report thx

 By: Bill : April 12th, 2007-21:03
I must say I do also love this shot. Timeless....  

great achievement

 By: tu.vtk : April 12th, 2007-21:43
I have no doubt about JLC is always the master manufacture of movement, but I was wonder about JLC out side design (case,dial ) and finishing. I think new Master Compressor Extrem LAB have both great movement and design, good finishing too. JLC have great... 

Thanks for the report! I'm really interested in the aerodynamic research....

 By: JGV : April 13th, 2007-01:13
JLC research has concluded that a large surface of balance decreases its aerodynamic performances and increases the need for energy to maintain the oscillations. I would really like to know how they researched this. Did they use CFD, analytical research o... 


 By: Douke S. : April 13th, 2007-02:33
Dje, Thanks for the great report. JLC really shows her power as a manufacture (again). It is a very impressive watch. Hopefully the future will see a less complicated version that will be affordable. Regards, Douke

Tacos! Burritos! Enchiladas! >>

 By: MTF : April 13th, 2007-04:09
JLC has gone Tech-Mech......er......Tex-Mex Geddit? Well....never mind; back to the watch. I salute JLC for the technical innovations and that as a Manufacture, it must continue to extend boundaries of horology. Well done! The aesthetic design or Tech-Mec... 

Lobster sashimi in a boiled oyster....

 By: Dje : April 24th, 2007-13:34
Hi Melvyn, This watch is not for you, go back to your Duometre and let the Lab for me :-) Yes I like Chopard L.U.C. Tech, RM and the Lab. Please don't mix them with Zenith Defy Xtreme, BRM and Custos. There's good watchmaking on one side and good marketin... 

nt  ...

 By: Dje : July 2nd, 2007-14:09

Who knows? nt

 By: Dje : July 2nd, 2007-14:30

Very exciting stuff,,,

 By: Asimut : April 13th, 2007-08:16
and thanks for letting us know MJLC is surely not stopping at red.... Cheers, Asi

Thanks for the report Jerome!

 By: AnthonyTsai : April 13th, 2007-09:43
Nice black/red combo and the Master Lab. Can't wait to see this one in person in a few days. Love that rotor!! Cheers, Anthony

If this anything to go by I can't wait to see all the 11 new models.....

 By: Andy : April 13th, 2007-10:33
as mentioned on their website..!!! Roll on next week...........could it be a dream week..!!?? Andy.

I need the straight dope on the service interval

 By: ei8htohms : April 13th, 2007-17:19
Hi Dje, Thanks for the wonderful report and kudos of course to JLC for their amazing work with new materials and techniques. Very exciting stuff indeed! I asked XX JLC forum what the service interval was and he said, "According to Jaeger-LeCoultre... the ... 

Fantastic photos, thanks! nt

 By: Chris Meisenzahl : April 13th, 2007-21:48

You're welcome. nt

 By: Dje : April 24th, 2007-14:00

thank you Dje..

 By: ChristianDK : April 14th, 2007-01:15

Lignum Vitae

 By: ajlc : April 14th, 2007-01:44

Is it the JLC's answer for the...

 By: happy_wis : April 14th, 2007-08:26
"Patek Philippe Advanced Research"? Anyway, salute to JLC! They made the history again!


 By: watchme : April 14th, 2007-17:57

And I thought a silicon escape wheel was high-tech...

 By: Moses : April 15th, 2007-13:42
An incredible example of so many new technologies....no half-measures here. I wonder how the technology could be applied to more traditional watches without fundamentally changing their aesthetic, particularly the view through a sapphire back.

Great work by JLC

 By: RobCH : April 17th, 2007-01:25
...and fantastic write-up and pics. Thanks.