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The Millennium Watch Book
Jaeger-LeCoultre - Orbiting in Blue

Jaeger-LeCoultre Orbiting in Blue

Master Grande Tradition GyroTourbillon 3 Jubilee*

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s decision to locate a spherical hairspring in a spherical tourbillon is something of a culmination for the brand. This recursive showcasing of its favourite shape has resulted in a timepiece with a tourbillon that’s more centre stage than ever.

Like every other edition in the Gyrotourbillon family, this one is referred to not by its full, double-barrelled name, but simply by its reference number. The enthusiasm surrounding the release of the Gyrotourbillon 3 was little short of mania. It was unveiled by the then brand director and, as of 2018, CEO of the Richemont Group, Jérôme Lambert, in person, and caused an unruly scramble when a pack of journalists rushed onto the stage to admire the only piece available at the time – on Lambert’s wrist. Anecdotes are not data, but this story nevertheless gives some measure of the expectation and admiration created by the Jaeger-LeCoultre saga in which bi-axial tourbillons were combined with a spherical cage and another noble complication. The third instalment took the form of a digital display chronograph incorporated into a sculptural assembly featuring new finishes. Two almost magical ingredients were added to this already well-defined cocktail: a spherical hairspring – blue-tinted at that – and a flying cage.

Orbiting in Blue

The base

The tourbillon itself is very similar to the model launched in 2004. It comprises a first spherical cage, openworked to reduce its weight, and completing one rotation per minute. This contains a second cage, also openworked, that completes one rotation every 24 seconds. At the heart of this Russian doll-like arrangement sits the balance/hairspring/escapement assembly. Jaeger-LeCoultre also added two further refinements. The aim of the first was to reduce the considerable weight of the cage due to its twofold nature and the distinctive wraparound design. To do so, the brand abandoned traditional steel, and indeed titanium, in favour of aluminium. Each of the two cages was machined from a block of aluminium, thus explaining their dull aspect and unflattering finishing; aluminium is very pale and not really suitable for polishing or bevelling. But once the incredibly complex shape of these cages is taken into consideration, the finishes in question stand out as a stunning achievement rather than a last resort. What is more, the main cage is not fixed to an upper bridge, only to a lower one – a first, and one that does indeed make this a flying bi-axial tourbillon.

Orbiting in Blue

Orbiting in Blue © Jaeger-LeCoultre

Spice

In a second refinement, the Le Sentier-based Manufacture decided to show off its abilities to the full by placing its devotion to hairsprings centre stage. Using thread produced by manufacture A. Lange & Söhne (which has redeveloped the technology used to roll and temper regulating springs), Jaeger-LeCoultre pulled off an impressive feat, producing a spherical hairspring with two terminal curves – and then making it blue-tinted. In a bi-axial tourbillon, which moves in orbit around a sphere, balancing issues are essential because the pressure exerted by the weight of the cages increases disturbances. The use of a spherical hairspring ensures that it remains concentric as it expands and contracts, which in turn ensures increased accuracy. In a beautiful finishing touch, the gold balance has also been tinted blue to match the predominant colour throughout the rest of the watch.

Orbiting in Blue

Orbiting in Blue © Jaeger-LeCoultre

Assets

Alongside this assembly, Jaeger-LeCoultre has installed a digital monopusher chronograph. A timer minute display running from 00 to 60 on two discs, controlled by means of a single pusher, has been housed within a 60-second hand display. Hours and minutes are offset in a dial at one o’clock, creating a complex symmetry in which the final balance is provided by the day/night indicator at 4 o’clock, with part of the bridges also remaining visible. Like the baseplate, they have been treated using a finishing technique that enjoyed a brief heyday at Jaeger-LeCoultre. This consists in hand-punching a surface with a compressed-air tool that leaves tiny punch marks, resulting in an aspect a little coarser than a frosted finish. The 176 calibre being 11.5mm thick, due mainly to the height of the cage, the watch itself is 15.5mm thick and has a diameter of 43.5mm. The first 75 watches were made in platinum; a different edition in 2019 used rose gold, with some dial components in aventurine and meteorite. 

*This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years of the Tourbillon in  The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre: HOME OF FINE WATCHMAKING SINCE 1833. Located in the serene setting of the Vallée de Joux, our Maison radiates a unique sense of belonging. The soul of La Grande Maison is formed here, inspired by the exceptional landscapes of the Jura Mountains, guided by an unquenchable inner fire. With all crafts under one roof within the Manufacture, watchmakers, engineers, designers and artisans work together to give birth to fine...

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