The Perpetual Calendar timepiece; a timepiece that has always fascinated me, not just because of its complexity but also because it is probably one of the most useful complications in watchmaking, not to mention just how charming it is to see it in action! Put simply, it is just a watch that will correctly display the day, date, month or year on your wrist perpetually (well, kind of), which is what most people would say but in my eyes it is so much more than that.
In today’s modern world it may sound sort of ridiculous to spend unscrupulous amounts of money just so you can tell exactly what day, date, month or year you are in with one glance at your wrist (okay, maybe a bit more than just a glance), obviously also not forgetting the time. Yet we can do this very thing on a daily basis by merely glancing over at our Smartphones, in fact our phones don’t even need to be that smart to be able to display such a function and yet we are still drawn to them. Ordinarily, watch manufacturers reserve such complicated movements for more precious metals and Jaeger-LeCoultre stayed true to this belief. In 2013 JLC released a trio of Perpetual Calendars, with one very special piece being made in steel but there was a certain level of exclusivity to it. However, at this year’s SIHH they announced that the much-loved Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar would now be available in steel with a Black sunburst dial.
Jaeger-LeCoultre are no strangers to creating complicated timepieces but what Jaeger strive for is complexity and elegance, these two traits are more than noticeable in the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar. Jaeger-LeCoultre have united their endeavours in creating an extremely, fully integrated, slim mechanism equipped with a complete calendar, with an arrangement that is simplistic and elegant, yet still legible.
The Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual features the same pure design, which combines classical elements with the aesthetic inspiration of the Grande Maison. The clear and distinctive layout makes reading the Master Ultra-Thin easy and avoids any confusion. In addition to the hour, minute and central seconds hands, it comprises three subsidiary dials dedicated to the perpetual calendar displays: the first at 9 o’clock for the day of the week, the second at 3 o’clock for the date and the third at 6 o’clock for the month. Jaeger- LeCoultre’s distinctive signature appears below the moon phase. In addition to this comprehensive range of information, a perpetual calendar function must also indicate the current year, and on the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual, a full four-digit display appears through a small aperture between 7 & 8 o’clock.
Could the JLC MUT Perpetual possibly have done without this, perhaps but it does throw off the symmetry a tad, in my opinion. Another feature that is noticeable just above the centre axis of the dial, is the date setting safety indicator. An indicator, which advises the wearer not to adjust the calendar. For those of you who are unaware, changing a perpetual calendar during the hours of 10pm and 2am, can ruin its gears. This is simply because during these hours, the gears are in motion for changing the date.
Beating away at the heart of the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual is the, in-house, designed calibre 868, which boasts 38-hours of power reserve and measures a mere 4.72 mm in thickness enabling the timepiece to be, well, thin. Measuring just 39 mm in diameter and 9.2 mm thick, its dimensions make it perfect for sliding under any shirt cuff.
When first introduced in 2013, the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual came in three variations distinguished by the material. An 18-carat pink gold case framing an eggshell-white dial, while the 18-carat white gold version came with a grained silver-toned dial. There was also a steel model available, which was exclusively available from Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques, which came with a sunburst silver-toned dial. But with the black dial, the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual takes on a whole new look and is perhaps more suitable for dressing down on the odd occasion – depending on your strap pairing. That said, whatever metal the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual comes in, one thing is sure – its elegance and complexity are unmatched in this price range.
Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is priced at £15,800 in stainless steel with a black dial. For more information visit the official Jaeger-LeCoultre website.