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Jaeger-LeCoultre - Interview with Catherine Rénier

Jaeger-LeCoultre Interview with Catherine Rénier

The editor-in-chief of GMT magazine talked to the CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

What does the new Gyrotourbillon presented at the SIHH 2019 mean to you?
Unveiling our Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetual after five years of hard work is a great source of pride for those who have accomplished this feat, but also for the entire Manufacture. We have taken a new step forward in the expertise of the multi-axis tourbillon, which we have succeeded in miniaturizing despite the addition of complications. It is a peak demonstration of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ability to share expertise and innovative capacity on all levels. This new Gyrotourbillon is the ambassador of the unique watchmaking performance of our Manufacture, which is home to more than 180 skills. Jaeger-LeCoultre manufactures all its calibers in-house, including this type of model characterized by a complex set of associated horological complications, which are accommodated within a reasonably sized watch. We are constantly looking to improve our calibers, to test new technologies and new materials. Whether R&D teams, laboratories or methods, a whole organization is active on behalf of Fine Watchmaking, as vividly illustrated by the Gyrotourbillon at the SIHH 2019, while other exceptional creations are already in the pipeline.

What does the return of the Polaris that was relaunched last year mean for Jaeger-LeCoultre?
We are both attentive to our customers and focused on our identity. The Polaris and the tribute paid to the Memovox since last year have enabled us to update a collection that corresponded to a need for sporting elegance, which has been somewhat lacking in the men’s range over recent years. This casual chic line is a reminder of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history and respects its identity codes while meeting market expectations. Men all over the world have welcomed it with great enthusiasm, and the success of the chronograph with metal bracelet has far exceeded our expectations.

Is the Reverso still the stuff of dreams?
Absolutely! Jaeger-LeCoultre is fortunate to be able to count on this icon, endowed with a style that transcends fashion trends and notably features an Art Deco aesthetic that remains as timeless as ever. Moreover, the impact at the SIHH of the Reverso with a red wine dial that we unveiled was similar to that of the Gyrotourbillon. This modern color respectful of historical codes proved very popular. An icon naturally protects its identity and while it is already extremely well known, we still have many stories about it to share in order to continue expanding its circle of followers. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre is dedicating 2019 to “The Art of Precision”: is this about once more placing the Manufacture firmly front and center?
Yes, this theme first and foremost turns the spotlight on our Manufacture. Precision concerns both Métiers Rares (rare crafts) illustrated in our exhibition that set off from the SIHH to Miami for the Watches & Wonders show, as well as the specific choice of the red wine color for example, or the guillochage on the ultra-thin Master limited-edition models, and of course the precision involved in extremely technical horology with the 1,050 components of the Gyrotourbillon movement. The Art of Precision evokes certain ranges of rare crafts and watchmaking skills that make the Manufacture so special. This 186-year-old facility still hums with the same passion and humanity that drives the watch industry, particularly thanks to precision workmanship. One of my roles is to share the beauty of this truly unique Manufacture.

In what ways does your previous experience at Van Cleef & Arpels prove valuable in your work at the head of Jaeger-LeCoultre?
In two respects. My experience at the Van Cleef & Arpels headquarters and in Asia, as well as previously in the USA with Cartier, is a strength in gaining a quick grasp of the market, better understanding cultural differences, as well as saving time when it comes to decision-making. With regard to Van Cleef & Arpels specifically, the respect for expertise cultivated there is very close to that of our Maison, which enabled me in a very natural way to arrive at the Manufacture and feel at home. Having spent a lot of time with artisans and jewelers, I immediately sensed in watchmakers the same respect for artisanal methods, the years of experience and the sharing of knowledge between generations. There are also similar values governing the authentic approaches and attitudes of our two Maisons, based on a long-term vision.

Does the fact of presenting your new models three months later with next year’s SIHH scheduled for April 2020 involve substantial reorganization?
Not really, since relationships with our retailers are ongoing and we are involved in daily exchanges, so it doesn’t matter. It’s good news for both shows and the industry to speak with a single, louder voice and it in fact gives us a little more time to prepare for the next edition.

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Ever since the brand was established in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been enchanting lovers of beautiful objects. Its craftsmen and craftswomen, the guardians of the inventive spirit of company founder Antoine LeCoultre, pool their expertise to create collections that are as surprising as they are sophisticated: Reverso, Master, Rendez-Vous, Duomètre, Geophysic® and Atmos. This great brand continues to be inspired by its rich heritage and...

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