A Year In Review: Jaeger-LeCoultre

by Matt Clymo

It’s the end of the year and this year, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite brands and what they’ve done across the year. To start, we’re exploring Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 2023…

Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) has had a big year. I’ve covered most of their releases this year and done quite a few hands on reviews over the past 12 months. I’ve always had respect for the Maison what they stand for and who they are as the “Watchmaker’s Watchmaker”, but I’ve never really paid much attention to their pieces. Yes, the Reverso is iconic, but so are a lot of other watches out there.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute – an Icon in the watch world.

However, I’ve grown to love the brand over these past 12 months. Partly because when you get to know a brand at a more personal level as well as the people in the brand, as you inevitably do being a watch journalist, and partly because you learn a lot more about the brand, their philosophy, how they make their watches and in doing this, you gain a whole new understanding and perspective of the brand. Jaeger-LeCoultre has done that for me in 2023. So let’s look at some of their stand-out pieces and initiatives this year.

Jaeger-LeCoultre kicked off 2023 with their Collectibles program. You can read the full details here, but in a nutshell, it was a great initiative to help people get their hands on pre-loved vintage pieces from JLC’s archives, fully restored and with boxes and papers. And if the pieces on offer need new parts, Jaeger-LeCoultre has all the designs and specs to re-make them and get the vintage pieces working, like new. Buying vintage is always fraught with danger due to not knowing the history or level of care taken over the years. Jaeger-LeCoultre has taken away the risk of this with the Collectible Program.

Some of the pieces available in the Collectables program from JLC

Next up was the main event of the year for most brands out there. Watches & Wonders 2023. Whilst Jaeger-LeCoultre released a few models and this year was all about the Golden Ratio for them, the standout from this, for me at least anyway, was the Reverso Tribute Chronograph. In person, it’s a stunning piece, and whilst I’m not necessarily into square and rectangular watches, this is one piece I’d buy should I choose to go down that road. The fact that JLC has done a dual face timepiece, but only with one of the dials having the chronograph function is a feat unto itself. Plus, the skeletonised chronograph face looks pure gold, and I’m sold!

In addition to this piece, the new Reverso Tributes won fans over, and we had the privilege of reviewing them prior to their release, which you can read about here. Nice, sleek and elegant, the way a Reverso should be, and whilst the gold was nice, I felt the white enamel dial was a standout and the piece I’d choose to pair with a dinner suit.

Back on Australian shores, Jaeger-LeCoultre wanted to get up close and personal with the people and their Nomadic 1931 Cafe hit Sydney’s Circular Quay in May to bring a little bit of the Vallée de Joux here. Guests were treated to some yummy swiss chocolate with the Art Deco gold lettering designed by artist and designer, Alex Trochut, and a choice of hot drinks, from coffee and tea, through to Swiss Hot Chocolate. Oh, and you could also learn about the art of decorating the case backs of the Reverso through their pop-up display! We also had the chance to talk with Country Manager for Jaeger-LeCoultre, Justin Devaux and got his take on the pop up event. If you missed it, watch it below.

In August, Jaeger-LeCoultre continued with their brand activations and brought some of their heritage and chiming pieces out from Switzerland to both Sydney and Melbourne for The Sound Maker. We flew to Melbourne to see the activation at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Boutique and got to play with a lot of their high-end chiming pieces you won’t get a chance to see in Australia. Pieces like the Hybris Mechanica Calibre 184 with the Westminster Chime, worth around $2.4M AUD and only 1 or 2 pieces created due to the complexity and 12 months it takes to make. See more of these pieces and the video where you can here the chiming pieces here.

Towards the back end of the year, Jaeger-LeCoultre brought out one of my favourite pieces of the year, and not just from JLC, it’s been one of my favourite watches to go hands-on with this year. The Polaris Chronograph was a quiet hit, and it seems that many of you thought so too. The Polaris Chronograph just makes sense for the brand in Australia. A slightly dressier sports watch with great credentials, easy wearing, and with multiple straps, including a rubber as standard with the quick change mechanism, they’re onto a winner here. My only dilemma was which I liked better – blue or grey. I’m edging towards the grey currently due to the smoked enamel and lacquered dial. It’s just different and whilst the blue is more versatile, the grey just looks amazing in my opinion.

Rounding out the year with a bang, Jaeger-LeCoultre released last week their Reverso Tribute Year of the Dragon, which you can read about in our coverage here. It’s a made-to-order piece, which makes sense as it’s a work of art and done by hand. The combination of the gold dragon hand engraved into the black enamel case back is truly something, and honestly, it compliments the Rose Gold of the case perfectly. You don’t really appreciate the engraving until you see the dragon up close. See the image close-up of it below. Craftsmanship at its best!

The hand-engraved golden dragon on the black enamel caseback.

So there you have a brief snapshot of what Jaeger-LeCoultre has done this year. Personally, I feel this is a brand that has the ability to go from strength to strength in Australia, especially with more pieces in the Polaris line due to our style, weather, and slightly more laid-back way of life than over in Europe. Whilst I’m not yet privy to what’s on the radar for next year, I’m quietly hoping that they build on this collection, and do more activations where people can go hands-on with their watches and explore the brand.

To see all our coverage of Jaeger-LeCoultre, click here.

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