Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Jaeger-LeCoultre: a Guide for the Collector, by Zaf Basha

***From Apprentice Corner

In this week's instalment of Week In Review, I’m reviewing the book Jaeger-LeCoultre: a Guide for the Collector. I’m not a seller or a collector, so why am I reading this book? Simple. Being a watchmaker requires one to have an all-encompassing knowledge of the different watches, their reference numbers and their movements.

Each time a new watch comes into the shop I’m amazed at how Nick is immediately able to identify the calibre in each watch. Knowing what calibre is in a watch, what that calibre is based on and how it operates allows one to make an assessment of what might be wrong, how to go about fixing it and what it might cost. And well, the book is just interesting.

It goes without saying that Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) is one of the best brands out there. The brand has been a trendsetter and an innovative force in the industry ever since it was founded in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre.

I’ve been a fan of the brand for a long time but never had a chance to see one in the flesh, so it was a real treat when I got to play with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Squadra Reverso World Chronograph last week.

For reasons that I can’t explain, I’m a huge fan of rectangular watches. Alongside the Rolex Prince, Reverso’s are the undisputed king of the category. They exude class unalike any other watch. It can be hard to imagine why a watch like this is so appealing until you see it in the right context. It’s not an everyday wearer (okay, I’d happily wear one every day), but worn in the right setting with the right attire, it’s unbeatable.

Would anything look better than a Reverso on Jay-Z’s wrist in the picture below? I think not.

Although it’s filled with great pictures, it’s perhaps too technical to be considered a coffee table reader. The book is heavy on detail, with parts/serial number listings, technical drawings and in-depth movement descriptions, all interspersed between historical discussions of the timepieces.

There are plenty of surprises too. Jaeger-LeCoultre hasn’t just produced fancy Reverso’s and complications; they’ve also produced many watches made for practicality and toughness. Case in point; a 1953 Mark 11 that was issued to Royal Australian Air Force pilots:

Built to exacting specifications in order to overcome the extreme magnetic and electrical fields experienced in a cockpit, the movement was housed in a soft iron enclosure based on a ‘Faraday cage’ which helps to normalise the effect these fields had on the watch. Specific alloys were used for the hairspring and balance wheel to further reduce sensitivity to magnetic and temperature fluctuations. The oversized crown was added to facilitate winding the watch while wearing pilot’s gloves.

This book is a serious collector’s book. It’ll tell you all you need to know and then some, leaving you even more fascinated by the brand. It can be bought from Amazon for around $130.

 The JLC Duoplan – the predecessor of the Reverso

Until next time,

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