The 180 skills of Jaeger-LeCoultre

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he expertise and virtuosity of the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre are revealed through each of its timepieces. Watchmakers, artisans, engineers and technicians, united in the same location at the heart of the Vallée de Joux, share the same vision of excellence and work together to give birth to unique horological creations.

Together, the 1,300 individuals exercising their talents within the Manufacture push existing boundaries to offer Fine Watchmaking enthusiasts a wealth of new surprises each year.

JAEGER LECOULTRE SKILLS (4)Artists believe actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to revealing the face of a watch destined to become part of a legend. Imbued with the history and vision of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the designer conveys his ideas through lines, anticipating what tomorrow will bring and subtly blending past, present and future.

The masterful process of movement construction involves a mechanism comprising over 100 parts. A hundred or so plans, two to five years’ work: the task of the movement development engineer requires comprehensive knowledge of horological principles.

The first phase of manufacturing watch parts is all about matter. The metal is profile-turned, tapped and drilled under the artisan’s attentive gaze. Component production is the kingdom of precision in which some parts are so small that a week’s production can be held in a thimble.

50 parts composing the case of the famous Reverso. Eight successive skills contribute to transforming the block of raw metal into the completed case. Within the production, trimming and polishing workshops, every effort is made to detect imperfections invisible to the naked eye in order to endow the cases with the perfection they deserve.

The completion of a work is conveyed through its smallest details. All the elements of the movement are decorated after machining. Delicately performed processes such as bevelling, straightening and buffing add the perfect finishing touches to the most complex mechanisms. Decoration is a precious skill of which the most gifted exponents take their place in the historical lineage of enduring Haute Horlogerie’ traditions.

Silence is golden in the workshop of the enamellists. In their masterful exercise of age-old techniques, they are dedicated to perpetuating this exclusive skill that continues to delight devotees of Fine Watchmaking. Matching the horological creativity of their counterparts, the jewellery artisans of the Manufacture display a wealth of imagination in creating the most beautiful precious timepieces.

Mastery, expertise and imagination guide the engraver’s every action, accurate to the nearest hundredth of a millimetre. Held in place on a wooden base, the movement is entirely exposed to the tool – a tiny hacksaw – and to the expert eye of the artist, which jointly transform into an exquisite lacework metal embroidery.

In the realm of the infinitely small, 22 different operations involve skills exercised with extreme accuracy. Jaeger-LeCoultre remains one of the rare Manufactures to make and assemble its own levers.

With ineffable grace, the balance-spring executes its concentric developments as naturally as gentle, regular breathing. It joins the balance-wheel in forming the beating heart of the movement. Assembling, poising, pinning up to the stud: this is the stage when the movement will literally come to life.

Assembling Grand Complications is the dream of any watchmaker. Taking part in the birth of a masterpiece in the vanguard of innovation is a role worthy of the greatest artists. Reliability and precision: at Jaeger-LeCoultre, the entire cased-up watch is subjected to a battery of stringent tests lasting 1000 hours.

For more than 180 years, the spirit of Antoine LeCoultre, who in 1844 invented the millionometer to measure thousandths of a millimetre, continues to reign supreme within the walls of the Manufacture.

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