The Master Control was first conceived in 1992 as Jaeger-LeCoultre’s best offering in terms of accuracy and reliability, with every watch undergoing a 1,000-hour, in-house quality control test. While the rigorous testing was fairly novel at the time, it has since become the norm for all Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) watches.
But the Master Control line has lived on. Facelifted in 2020, the Master Control watches have grown moderately in size to suit contemporary states but they retain the restrained design that characterised the original range. Most of the models sport a muted silver dial, but for the 30th anniversary of the collection, JLC has introduced the Master Control Date and Master Control Calendar with tri-tone blue dials.
My first impression of the watches is positive. Blue is a contemporary colour that nudges the aesthetic towards a more casual style, as opposed to the retro-formal look of the standard, silver-dial models.
Notably, the limited-edition pair are ore than a change of colour. The thoughtful design is evident through the details, especially with the tri-tone finish of the dial. While blue can be found practically everywhere in watchmaking, tri-tone blue is unusual and attractive. And the calendar windows reveal discs that are in blue to match the dial.
Both watches are otherwise identical to the regular versions, which are excellent to begin with. The pair is equipped with the brand’s latest-generation movements that have 70 hours of power reserve along with simple but attractive decoration visible through the back.
Arguably the only feature that work against the two new watches are their prices. Both are 10-20% pricier than the standard versions with a silver dial. While the standard models are well priced given JLC’s status, the premium for the blue dial feels excessive considering that enough of these are being made – 800 each – that it is likely the blue dials don’t cost much more than the standard silver dials.
Elegant proportions and sporty
Like all JLC watches, the Master Control relies entirely on in-house movements, which is unsurprising since the brand has historically been more of a movement supplier to top brands ranging from Patek Philippe to IWC, rather than a maker of watches under its own name. The know-how lies behind the brand’s diverse stable of movements, most of which are amongst the thinnest in their category. The Master Control Date, for instance, is amongst the thinnest automatics in its price range, with a case that’s just under 9 mm.
Of the duo, the Date is more appealing with its straightforward styling that works well with the slim case. There are no shortage of watches with blue dials, but few have the casual elegance found here – the blue dial featuring Arabic numerals for the quarters leaves it feeling effortlessly sharp.
Thicker at 10.95 mm, the Calendar is perhaps less elegant but certainly more interesting.
The date pointer makes a novel, 90-degree jump from “15” to “16” every month, so that the date pointer never stops over the small seconds or moon phase, a feature not found on the previous model.
Key facts and price
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control
Ref. Q4018480 (Date)
Ref. Q4148480 (Calendar)
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 8.78 mm (Date); 10.95 mm (Calendar)
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Cal. 899 AC (Date); cal. 866 AA (Calendar)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date for both; Calendar with additional day, month, and moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: Calf skin with folding clasp
Limited edition: 800 pieces each
Availability: Only at boutiques
Date – US$8,700, or 12,600 Singapore dollars
Calendar – US$13,100, or 18,900 Singapore dollars
For more, visit Jaeger-lecoultre.com.
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