The true blue Jaeger-LeCoultre pedigree in Chronograph watchmaking

Feb 28, 2005,11:11 AM

From an etymological standpoint, chrono-graph means ?writing the time?. The chronograph invented by Rieussec in 1821 (patented in 1822) literally placed a drop of ink to mark the end of the measurement (while the hand continued turning). Strictly speaking, the current complication should thus be called chrono-scope, ?looking at the time?; a term which is recently used by Chronoswiss - in any case, the term, Chronograph is now the commonly accepted name for the complication.

(Jaeger calibre 420TMS in 1884)

Adolphe Nicole in 1844 was credited as the inventor of Chronograph which included the 3 common functions (1) Start, (2) Stop and (3) Reset to Zero. Adolphe was a native of Valee de Joux who had settled in London for business reasons and had his main workshop in Le Solliat. Lesser known is the fact that Adolphe enjoyed a good relationship with his cousin, Antoine LeCoultre, the founder of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

(The Old Manufacture)

At the time, it was generally agreed that complicated watches were far less precise than simple watches. Antoine LeCoultre and his son Elie examined this problem which stemmed mostly from the imprecision of the human hand. LeCoultre & Cie was the first and for years the only Manufacture capable of producing complicated movements by means of a partially mechanised process. Uniting hand and machine in the service of precision and reliability led to extraordinary expansion.

(1890 Jaeger calibre 20TMCCS)

Between 1870 and 1900, the Jaeger-LeCoultre created no less than 128 different chronograph calibres! 42 were equipped with counters, 32 with split-seconds hands; 33 also comprised a repeater mechanism, and 1 combined a chronograph, a repeater and a perpetual calendar.

These calibres at one time supplied the entire Swiss, French and German watch industries, from Glash?tte to Geneva and including Schaffhausen, Besan?on, La Chaux-de-Fonds, le Locle, Saint-Imier, Fleurier, Sainte-Croix, and of course the Vall?e de Joux.

The Manufacture Lecoultre & Cie had become a reference in the field of chronographs movements.

During the first half of the 20th century, the Manufacture continued to innovate in this field. From 1903 onwards, it began creating ultra-thin chronographs, which were marvels of technical sophistication and miniaturisation.

(1915 calibre 19CCRM)

From the 1920s on, LeCoultre was one of the pioneers in chronograph calibres for wristwatches. By way of example, a LeCoultre 13-lignes movement made in 1923 Cal 13cc was fitted within a Patek Philippe watch that was estimated to be worth $200,000 at an auction in 1997.

(1923 calibre 13CC)

In 1927, LeCoultre created Calibre 133, a counter chronograph movement with a diameter of 11 lignes, meaning 24.8 mm! 62 movements were made up until 1936 for other haute horlogerie top brands.

In 1987, Jaeger-LeCoultre created the mecha-quartz chronograph Calibre 630.

(1970 calibre 154, Perpetual Chrono Minute Repeater)

Starting from 1994 and 1995, there were 2 concurrent projects to develop 2 very fine Chronograph movements, the exceptional shaped Calibre 829 in the form of the 1996 Reverso Chronograph Retrograde and the round calibre 930 originally meant to be used in the round Jaeger-LeCoultre.

(The Reverso Chronograph Retrograde Limited Edition)

The Reverso Chronograph Retrograde and the subsequent Reverso Gran?Sport Chronograph (Cal 859) was exceptionally fine and rare. This should have been a talking piece in 1996. An inhouse and integrated double face chronograph was unique at that time and is still very rare today. I attributed the relatively cool media and public reception then (the watch took a number of years to sell) to a conservative team in Le Sentier who under-appreciated the value of good marketing. If I recalled correctly, there wasn?t even a marketing department in the manufacture! (The Reverso Gran?Sport Chronograph was briefly discussed here at )

(Reverso Gran?Sport Chronograph, exceptionally good value)

Both the Calibre 829 and 930 developments were expensive; the thinking in the factory then was to create the best chronograph movements. The only production caliber 829 double sided complication was particularly expensive to produce.

(Calibre 829)

The Calibre 930 development, under Roger Guignard (I call him the George Lucas of Jaeger-LeCoultre) started with the same pure intention, with the following minimum requirements
(1) Integrated chronograph and not modular
(2) It must bear the traditional column wheel as a sign of quality. A column wheel remained the best and the most reliable way to coordinate all the functions of the chronograph: start, stop and reset.
(3) There are 3 main ways to start and stop (engage and disengage) the chronograph, i.e. Lateral Coupling, Vertical coupling (vertical clutch) and Sliding Pinion. Conventional wisdom says that the higher quality Vertical Coupling is the best way was collaborated by real test results. Other factors being equal, Vertical Coupling has the following advantages (3a) Chrono seconds starts without hesitation (3b) highest resistant to shock and (3c) the rate of balance wheel remained unchanged when the chronograph function is engaged.

Roger Guignard also successfully incorporated the Jumping Minute function and the project was a technical success. The Calibre 930 development project however was finally suspended as the manufacture sensed that the product maybe ahead of its time.

(Roger Guignard, Constructeur)

In recent years, the lack of a round chronograph in the Jaeger-LeCoultre product range is getting a little awkward. The need for one is also getting obvious as chorus of calls from retailers and collectors were heard.

(Philippe Vandel)

Two years ago, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to revive the abandoned calibre 930 project and was put under the charge of Philippe Vandel, a constructeur who was involved in the calibre 829 development?

to be continued

More posts: 930CalibresPorsche

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Comments: view entire thread


A great watch...

 By: Dje : February 28th, 2005-11:11
seems to be coming. Jaw you are perfect to make us desire. Thank you for your new input to our JLC knowledge. A great story full of wonders. We are getting closer to the jewel.

Thanks Dje...

 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-05:05

Pining for more info...

 By: John : February 28th, 2005-12:24

Mechanized production elsewhere

 By: Aaron : February 28th, 2005-03:15
I'm interested in the date of the first production of JLC's chronograph movements by machine and whether they really pre-date the Waltham patents on the subject(1880, with production soon after). This was the pinnacle of American movement production as ca...  

Great prologue Jaw!

 By: damien : March 1st, 2005-06:06

To be continued.......Arghhhh

 By: Jokoh : February 28th, 2005-07:19
Everytime I watch a series that says "To be continued", I get very jittery. As always, its like nearing the murder scene. The suspense of waiting till next week!! I love chrono, I'm willing to wait as I know JLC will not let me down Thanks again ... 

Thanks for the heads up Jaw, what's that 2.....

 By: watchculture : February 28th, 2005-09:21
circular thin tubes on the Cal 19 CCRM for ? >>>>>Zach T

2 hammers at the top edge....

 By: watchculture : March 1st, 2005-07:07

Did Jaeger also develop the jumping minute counter for lange?

 By: furen : March 1st, 2005-01:01
Greetings, Was the chronograph movement not released because they let Lange use the innovation, the same way they let lange use the big date mechanism first? thanks for the write-up! I can't wait to see the watchmaker's watchmaker chronograph. Francis

the Jumping Minute function is actually not an innovation from JLC

 By: clavi : March 1st, 2005-01:01
the Jumping Minute feature is not something new in chronographs. For example, the rather old and common Valjoux 72 and Lemania 321 feature this function. Therefore it can't be something that JLC saved for Lange use only, as you can find it on many other c... 

semi-instantaneous is not the same as instantaneous

 By: ei8htohms : March 5th, 2005-08:08
Hi Guys, Lange's minute counter is instantaneous. Precisely at the 60 second mark, the minute hand jumps instantly to the next minute. Most minute counters are semi-instantaneous. A few seconds before the minute changeover they start to creep a little and... 


 By: Jaw : March 5th, 2005-07:19

I am speculating here

 By: Jaw : March 1st, 2005-02:02
The calibre 829 project was costly, but possibly due to the ready availability of lesser chronographs at cheaper prices, the response from the market wasn't exactly hot then. Gunter Blumlein was one of the most (if not the emost) admired industry leaders.... 


 By: furen : March 1st, 2005-05:05

Part 2 - The revived calibre 930 and a never before published PHOTO of a new watch!

 By: Jaw : March 1st, 2005-08:08
For most technical watch brands, a minimum of a clear 5 year product strategy is essential. The ability to continuously produce innovations that meet high expectations is a real challenge for most. Jaeger-LeCoultre, in contrast, has many working prototype...  

I am under shock right now!!

 By: Dje : March 1st, 2005-09:09
Thank you Jaw for all this precise report (I am eagerly waiting for part 3). This new caliber seems amazing. AMAZING!! You say it incorporates ALL autotractor improvements, so I guess it is an automatic caliber? I hope to know soon what is the use of the ... 

Re: looks fabulous and exciting blend of functions...but I fear....

 By: stultus77 : March 1st, 2005-09:09
...that this is going to be quite a MASSIVE case. Not to jump the gun, Jaw, but any idea of the case size? - Daniel

Thanks Jaw for >>

 By: Velociphile - No longer in the building : March 1st, 2005-10:10

Excellent reporting!

 By: wisemoth : March 1st, 2005-10:10
Thanks Jaw for another fantastic report, nicely split for drama and suspense ! A lovely addition to the Compressor range.

Gorgeous watch....

 By: Spiros : March 1st, 2005-10:10

Jaw (and JLC) thank you!

 By: Todd Warnke : March 1st, 2005-12:24
I have been lookng for "One Watch" to wear for 95% of what I do. I need a chrono, and it needs to be sporting enough for hiking, biking and playing with my two boys. But it also needs to be something special enough for me to hand down to one of those two ... 

Wonderful report!

 By: Gary : March 1st, 2005-12:24

Jaw, Thank you very much for a wonderful review. (more)

 By: rodaballo : March 1st, 2005-12:24
Do you know if JLC is planning a chronograph in the Master series? Best wishes antonio

Thanks for the report Jaw. Very interesting reading. Do love the fact that MJLC can..

 By: 219 : March 1st, 2005-03:15
design, manufacture and construct a movement and case from scratch. Such a unique firm within the industry. Andrew H


 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-05:05

Only current Integrated World Time Chrono...

 By: Jaw : March 2nd, 2005-12:24
World Timer (no dual time), no split and a seconds disc indicator at 6 o'clock Jaw

Wow! Thanks again for a fabulous writeup Jaw.

 By: damien : March 1st, 2005-07:19
Overall a well balanced dial, the most symmetrical compressor dial yet. The 30 minute subdial gets an unusual treatment - at first glance it looks like the normal date dial. IMHO, the hands on the 30 minute subdial are too different from the hour subdial.... 

Wow !

 By: Praveen : March 1st, 2005-08:20
Jaw !! My Jaw(s) are wide open !! Sorry What a beautiful report ! What a beautiful watch - Now how do i justify this to my wife.... Hmm... Waiting for more Jaw, Keep up the stellar work ! P

Thanks Praveen..

 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-05:05


 By: jimsbk : March 1st, 2005-10:22
Fantastic and thank you Jaw for the scope! Regards Jim

What interest me are the 4 springs.....................

 By: Zach T : March 2nd, 2005-07:07
looks like it acts to provide a suspension system for the movement when it's subjected to impact or shock. A cool piece of engineering art. Thanks for sharing,Jaw. >>>>>Zach T

good guess! (nt)

 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-05:05

Another good job done by MJLC...

 By: Chai : March 3rd, 2005-03:03
The case design, layout of the dial, the anti-shock system with the case, the movement, and etc... All these are so well executed and I really like it... BTW, Can someone tell me what is the function of the disc with red and white colours? Chai

Another thank you note.

 By: jaspert : March 2nd, 2005-02:02

Part 3 - Magali Metrailler and the world's strongest case? (photo of new chrono!)

 By: Jaw : March 2nd, 2005-12:24
(Magali Metrailler, Jaeger-LeCoultre Creative Designer) When a young product designer Magali Metrailler joined Jaeger-LeCoultre 4 years ago, few expected her to make any impact on a very traditional company. Knowing Magali, few should be surprise that her...  

Many many thanks again Jaw. Some questions if I may >>

 By: Velociphile - No longer in the building : March 2nd, 2005-01:13

Thanks again Jaw.

 By: damien : March 2nd, 2005-03:15

Slight historic correction

 By: clavi : March 2nd, 2005-03:15
I will be my boring self again and do a minor correction to your JLC history introduction. The memovox was actually not "the the first waterproof alarm watch" when it came in 1965. This title is held by the Vulcain Cricket Nautical, launched in 1961, and ... 

Thanks Clavi, after checking with a historian...

 By: Jaw : March 7th, 2005-06:06
Not only the 1965 memovox wasn't the first waterproof alarm watch, it wasn't even the first JLC waterproof alarm watch!, the facts was misquoted because of some mis-communications. The first JLC waterproof alarm watch was actually the Deep Sea, a modele c...  


 By: clavi : March 8th, 2005-06:06
I didn't know that the DeepSea was from 1961 also. I have seen it bearing bothe the US LeCoultre and the swiss Jaeger leCoultre names on dial (see this example of swiss dialed one)

Thank you, Jaw, for our daily dose of these new chronographs.

 By: Ruckdee : March 2nd, 2005-06:18
I like the engineering spirit exuding from them. The size is prohibitive indeed and I believe the price will be the same. Can't wait to see what JLC will offer for the non-Compressor series, chronograph or not. Ruckdee

In my personal opinion, the price is so reasonable that

 By: Jaw : March 2nd, 2005-08:20
the mid to high end chronograph market will never be the same again, what do you think if I say it will PROBABLY priced below the Girard-Perregaux But don't take

Master Series chrono as well ??

 By: Chris Launder : March 2nd, 2005-11:23
Hi JAW , Thankyou for an excellent coverage of the new JLC Chrono , something I have been looking forward to for some time , both are excellent pieces of engineering !! The question several have asked , but have not yet ascertained , is there also going t... 

Thank you Jaw

 By: Dje : March 2nd, 2005-11:23
for getting us further inside this nex marvel. Each step makes me love it more. The non-extreme compressor chronograph is stunning. I can't wait to see a steel on strap one. You say that it may probably priced under the GP WWTC. I guess you are talking of... 

Never before published photo of Stainless Steel Compressor Chronograph

 By: Jaw : March 3rd, 2005-12:12
(Master Compresor Chronograph, Stainless Steel version) Jaw...  

Jaw I love your secret signature. Class, understated, discreet!

 By: Dje : March 3rd, 2005-01:01
By the way, could we know the siez of the "simple" compressor chrono? Thank you

Is it correct that this version does not have the Ti subchassis? ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : March 4th, 2005-04:04
I do not see the "inlay" around the pushers/crown, which is present on the Extreme worldtimer version, so I assume this varaint has a more conventional case layout? Regards, Marcus

F=ma point of order and other concerns >>

 By: MTF : March 2nd, 2005-06:18
Jaw, Thanks for the fascinating series. I have 2 points of order. 1st: Force = Mass x Acceleration; so for a given external force (impetus), the acceleration of the watch would be less (i.e. less rate of change of velocity or displacement) if the Mass was... 

The question of "Force", may the force be with you...

 By: Jaw : March 2nd, 2005-08:20
Impact is exerted when the watch is stopped from acceleration, the acceleration just before the impact is the a, the force exerted on impact correlates to mass. It takes much more force to stop your "Densitometrium" than Titanium during impact with the sa...  

Based on this data, the watch can pass a 7000g test>>

 By: Velociphile - No longer in the building : March 3rd, 2005-04:04

thank you....

 By: teckmeng : March 2nd, 2005-10:22

Really got to see this baby in the flesh...

 By: Jokoh : March 3rd, 2005-01:01
Hi Jaw, 1st of all, thank you for all the hard work in bringing us this 1st hand wonder you "disappeared" for a long time , JLC is my 1st passion and will always be Most of the questions I wanted to ask have been answered...especially the gigant... 


 By: jlouissaul : March 3rd, 2005-06:06
Jaw, Thanks for wonderful photo essay. This site sets new standards; bringing the latest improvements to an eager audience! I have a question concerning the sizes of the NEW Master Chronographs, the Extreme is 46.3 mm, but I don't see a mm size for the Ma... 

This is one tough lady &.........

 By: Zach T : March 3rd, 2005-09:09
one tough watch . I can imagine the scene in their meeting room with technical drawings all over the table, formulas and calculations being challenged,all in a day's work in a Design department.....sounds so familiar. Thank you for this very well written ... 

Amazing stuff....

 By: hjuanie : March 4th, 2005-05:05

Part 4 - A Commercial break (Press Release)

 By: Jaw : March 3rd, 2005-10:10
Compressor Chronograph Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph: when the hand of time is pointing to sport. The Master Compressor Chronograph and the Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph represent a new horological peak for the master-watchmake...  

So the counter at 6 is the power reserve indicator?

 By: Dje : March 3rd, 2005-11:11
Two last questions: Do we get a 40 mm classic case (? la Hometime)? Do we get a 40 mm Aston Martin case? Perhaps some answers tomorrow!! Thank you very much Jaw! What a week!

Thanks very much Jaw for all your efforts and pictures.

 By: ddpd : March 3rd, 2005-01:13
I have been looking for a new chrongraph, but wanted to wait till all the manufacturers released their items. These would have to be the most technologically advanced chronos on the market and knowing how JLC usually underprices their wares compared to ev... 

it has to be said

 By: ei8htohms : March 3rd, 2005-06:18
Hi Jaw, The chronograph section of this movement bears an incredibly strong resemblance to the Piguet 1185 and I've got to take exception with this line: "Obviously, this is a more complicated solution than that employed by other watchmakers. . . " A sign... 

Wow, there?s still more to come? :-)

 By: vlim : March 3rd, 2005-07:19
Thanks Jaw for the preview of the new watch and movement! I can?t wait to see the watch and try out the chronograph function. Vernon

Only 100m WR...

 By: Jokoh : March 4th, 2005-12:12

Really can't wait to see the real things...

 By: Chai : March 4th, 2005-02:02
BTW, are Calibre 751 & 752 autotrack? Chai

A quartz-driven mechanical chronograph

 By: Aalok : March 4th, 2005-07:07
Hi Marie, Until the current product annoucements, the only round JLC chronographs made in recent years have been a hybrid quartz-mechanical watch. The watch keeps time like a quartz watch with a battery and quartz crystal, but includes a mechanical chrono... 

Thanks (nt)

 By: Jaw : March 5th, 2005-09:21

Well done MJLC! But where is the purist Chronograph?

 By: Ian Y. Thow : March 3rd, 2005-06:18
Well done MJLC! Thank you Jaw for this world exclusive preview! You have outdone yourself again! Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph is huge! As big as AP?s ROO T3 Limited Edition worn by the Terminator! Sadly, I don?t have Arnold?s big wrist to w... 

perception of size is subjective

 By: Jaw : March 3rd, 2005-08:20
and compression keys have a very functional purpose and not just a design decision. Jaw

Part 5 - Is the scary sounding 46.3mm TOO big?

 By: Jaw : March 3rd, 2005-09:21
(From left, Magali Metrailler, Joel Cordier, Stephane Belmont with Compressor Chrono, Caroline Dunand with Compressor Chrono, CEO Jerome Lambert with Extreme World Chrono and Isabelle Gervais) Perhaps stunned by the WOW factor of the watch, most of us in ...  

Nice size!! Looks macho on a man's wrist...

 By: alainc : March 3rd, 2005-10:22
Unlike many other 40+ sized watches in the market nowadays, designed with a big watch case just to meet the market demands; the generous dimensions of the Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph is justified by functional and innovative details. Strap... 

Mine is also 16.5cm...just went to measure :-)

 By: Jokoh : March 4th, 2005-12:12
Hi Jaw, Strange...could be photography for the wrist. It looks good with your right hand and not that big but it looks bigger on Wei's left hand...illusion . I notice that he is wearing it lower and you are wearing it higher...could that be it :)hmmmm...a... 

If Magali can wear it ,so can I..ha ha............

 By: Zach T : March 4th, 2005-08:08
certainly nice to see wrist shots that gave a good perspective of the size of the watch. Have to try it on to really see but I'm feeling very weak now.. >>>>>Zach T

Where is the PR indication

 By: Daniel : March 4th, 2005-09:09
The press release says the Extreme has a Power Reserve indication. Is this the red disc above 6, or is the red disc for running seconds? If the latter, where is the PR indication? Daniel

Part 6 - Portable shock test and a brief first look on the real watches

 By: Jaw : March 4th, 2005-09:09
The use of Titanium and Stainless Steel (or Platinum) is functional, when you use 2 metals with different densities and properties, shock can be deflected, and hence reducing the potential shock to the movement. The winding stem has a collar resting again...  

Case thickness...

 By: Jaw : March 9th, 2005-12:12

Part 7 - First look continuation and an animation of the Shock Absorber case!

 By: Jaw : March 5th, 2005-06:06
When the 3 new models, Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph, Master Compressor Chronograph and MecaQuartz Master Compressor Lady, were unveiled in Dubai, most journalists went straight to the Extreme World display case. (The limited edition Master ...  


 By: jlouissaul : March 5th, 2005-07:07
Jaw, Fabulous! When will these new pieces be available and what are the price points?? Again fantastic coverage... Jeff

An astonishing debut

 By: tony p : March 5th, 2005-07:19
I'm 100% impressed and awestruck by these new JLC releases. I was never a big fan of the Compressor range, but these watches have changed all that. To those who complain about the size: get a life. Just because you think 46mm is too big for you, does that... 

"Form follows function" - and a slightly different position ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : March 6th, 2005-06:06
First of all I might point out that the famous dictum of "form follows function" itself has never been used by the Bauhaus movement, but must be credited to the US architect Louis Sullivan in 1896. However, it is clear that the Bauhaus movement, like all ...  

Actually, the chrono is very easy to read...

 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-06:06
and thanks for your very carefully worded post and contribution. And although I won't argue with your para "Especially the Extreme chronograph makes it difficult to read the elapsed time at a single glance, since it is very likely that one will not find t... 

Let me offer a suggestion ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : March 6th, 2005-07:07

I thoroughly agree Marcus >>

 By: Velociphile - No longer in the building : March 6th, 2005-09:09

Outstanding stuff Jaw......such a .......>>>>

 By: Peg : March 6th, 2005-06:06
intriguing essay....i must say that although i am not a JLC fan but this is interesting stuff... Keep it coming... Cheers Pegan

I say !

 By: Praveen : March 22nd, 2005-03:03
Hi Jaw That is a rather reasonable price for these watches ! Any idea of the USA retail price indications ? Thanks in advance praveen

Due to popular demand, here are the tentative prices for the 2 compressors.

 By: Jaw : March 6th, 2005-08:20
This is in response to many email enquiries, technicaly, I think the watch should be assessed without price discussion but here they are: compressor chrono stainless steel : Euro 6,500 world extreme stainless steel/titanium: Euro 9,850 world extreme Plati... 

Well slap me silly...JLC has done it again...

 By: Jokoh : March 7th, 2005-12:12
Hi Jaw, I think with that kind of pricing, most other brands are gonna have weak knees Maybe thats what JLC intended to do in the 1st place. I have been actually following their prices closely and comparing with others. MJLC is definitely telling the rest...