By Rebecca Doulton
The heavens and astronomy have inspired many Jaeger-LeCoultre watches. Earlier this year, we saw the fascinating Master Calendar watch with a 100-million-year-old meteorite dial and, more recently at the SIHH watch salon, three very complicated Jaeger-LeCoultre watches with names to match.
The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication hints that we are up against something quite formidable in the complications game. Not one, not two, but three complications are packed into this complex timepiece: a flying tourbillon orbiting the dial in sidereal time, a calendar with day, month and Zodiac symbol, and a minute repeater to boot.
Sidereal time is used by astronomers as a time-keeping system based on the Earth's rate of rotation relative to fixed stars. Solar time does the same with the Sun. A sidereal day measures 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds, and the flying tourbillon on this watch makes one rotation of the dial every sidereal day. Made from ultra-light titanium, the tourbillon whirls around the dial in a counter-clockwise revolution.
Behind the tourbillon is a beautiful blue sky chart of the Northern hemisphere, with its constellations and 12 Zodiac signs. The Sun, represented in rose gold, also gets to perform a full turn of the dial in exactly 24 hours. In case astronomy is not your cup of tea, the watch is endowed with a minute repeater that will give you an audible indication of the time, chiming the hours, quarters and minutes on demand. Housed in a rose gold case measuring 45mm, the manual-wound calibre 945 keeps all the functions orbiting in harmony.
The Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique Quantième Perpétuel watch combines the beauty of a flying tourbillon with one of the most useful complications for earthlings in the form of a perpetual calendar. With its lovely blue grained dial, this perpetual calendar can be adjusted by the single pusher. If you keep the watch wound, you will not have to undertake any corrections until 1 March 2100.
But because 2015 is all about astronomy at Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, the designers have managed to incorporate the 12 Zodiac signs in the month and year counter at 12 o'clock, and a Moon phase indicator in the day counter, offering you a window on the celestial motions. At 6 o'clock, the tourbillon dances hypnotically, and by flipping the 42mm white gold case over, you will see the gold oscillating weight of the automatic movement bearing a reproduction of the gold medal won by Jaeger-LeCoultre at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1889.
Last, but by no means least, is the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Orbital diamond watch, a high jewellery model inspired by the Sun's fiery brilliance. Using a new pyramid-style 3-D gemsetting technique, the baguette-cut diamonds are arranged like the Sun's rays transmitting volume, depth and catching the light at different angles. The gleaming full-set dial of this 42mm white gold diamond watch offers the tourbillon pride of place. This time the tourbillon has been slowed down to reproduce a sidereal day, majestically completing a counter-clockwise revolution in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. We wouldn't have expected any less.