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 prototypes of various complications. For example, when Sylvain Golay (or any other watchmaker) is in a good mood, or if one is really lucky, he might show you some stunning complications left in the closet for various reasons. So the caliber 930 situation wasn?t unique.
(Column Wheel coordinates all the functions of the chronograph: Start/Stop and reset. It transforms the pushes on the buttons into movements of levers, arms and springs, which activates or stops the chrono seconds, minute and hour counters)
If the Jaeger-LeCoultre team wanted to start caliber 930 production off the shelves, and call it a new Master Chronograph in just another Master Case, they probably could have done it with little or no backlash. The objective of the revival project however, was very clear from the beginning? a new Jaeger-LeCoultre chronograph had to be something special or would not go into production.
(There are 3 main types of coupling, Lateral, Vertical or sliding Pinion, Vertical Coupling is a signature for high-end chrono. Test shows Vertical Clutch system has the advantages of (1) No hesitation of the chrono seconds hand at start, (2) much higher shock resistant and (3) The rate of balance wheel remain unchanged at start and stop, making accurate time recording possible)
For a start, the name caliber 930 failed to survive. (Let?s call it the 750 development from now on.) The objective was simple but the task far from easy. I.e. The new Chronograph had to be special, accurate, reliable and easy to maintain.
The first logical step for Philippe Vandel was to incorporate ALL the new autotractor improvements into the 750. (For the changes in autotractor movements, please read through our previous discussion here, http://www.network54.com/Forum/message?forumid=234648&messageid=1078680164
The development team also sought opinions from many watchmakers and engineers specialized in chronographs. So long as they were experienced in chronograph development, the team gladly sourced them out and consulted each and everyone, inside or outside the manufacture, with the exception of watchmakers currently working for other brands and competitors for ethical reasons.
The beat was changed to 28,800vph and one barrel added serially not only to increase the power reserve to 72 hour with sufficient energy for the chronograph play but to ensure both the watch and the chrono runs much more accurately for a longer period of time.
(2 Barrel with power reserve of 72 hrs, almost perfectly flat torque up to 60 hours)
Instantaneous Jumping minute was visually impressive, but the development team soon found problems common with such complications. (Outside our topic, but this is also true with Jump Hour.)
(1) The instantaneous jump requires energy and torque (not to mention impact), so much so that it will affect the chronograph recording accuracy and the long term reliability of the watch.
(2) The instantaneous jump can also cause confusion in recorded time. Imagine the minute hand at 8 minutes. Say you stop the chrono as the chrono seconds hand move from 59s, 0s and 1s, the instantaneous jumps may occur either just before zero, exactly at zero or just after zero, this could happen even if the chronograph mechanism is constantly being adjusted to jump accurately, and you risk scratching your head wondering if your horse has galloped for 8m59s, 9m59s, 8min0s or 9m0s. If the minute moves ever so slowly and slightly towards 9m just before the JUMP, no such confusion is possible
(Note the intermediate wheel?s teeth shape, meant to give a very slight delay before the unmistakable jump)
To solve this problem, the team intentionally introduced an intermediate wheel and modified the gear?s teeth shape, so that the chrono minute will always move slowly and slightly for a miniscule fraction of a second, just before the unmistakable JUMP to the next minute.
As the 750 team worked on the movement, the young and charming Creative Designer Magali Metrailler was given another important assignment, to design the most unusual compressor for a unique watch.
(Creative Designer Magali Metrailler)
The success of the Compressor range for Jaeger-LeCoultre has been phenomenal. Turnover for the 4 relatively new models, 2002 Compressor Memovox, 2003 Compressor Geographic, 2003 Compressor Automatic and the 2004 Compressor Dualmatic has reached an amazing 20% of total JLC revenue in the short 3 years! And for Magali at least, every of her designs from the basic Compressor Automatic to the state of the art Gyrotourbillon are commercial hits!
(4 of Jaeger-LeCoultre?s success stories, The 4 current Compressors)
Knowing Magali since her first (somewhat shy) public appearance in Singapore?s Compressor Memovox launch (reported in PuristS), her level of confidence has grown in correlation with her popularity amongst the watch enthusiasts. A public member of ThePuristS.com went so far as to call her fans ?Magalite??
Elsewhere under the same roof, while Jaeger-LeCoultre has long experience in watch case production, the department was about to introduce the most innovative watch case ever - A watch case which should withstand extreme shock and vibration with a case integrated strap changing mechanism.
Serious in-house research on case making is unheard of in the industry, such job is normally the domain of specialized case manufacturers?
To be continued
Ps. What?s ahead:
(Note, this photo is the first media photo ever published in public)
A stunning design by Magali Metrailler and
The first Shock absorber watch case?
Combined to give us the first Extreme watch for extreme activities.
Watch this space!