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30/01/2009 09:07:00
about jaeger-lecoultre
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Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) is a luxury watch and clock manufacturer based in Le Sentier (in Le Chenit), The Founding of the Seminal



In 1833 Antoine LeCoultre (1803-1881) founded a small workshop, which was to become the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre.


The micrometer

In 1844, LeCoultre measured the micron (μ) for the first time; he created the world's most precise measuring instrument, the millionometer (a device capable of measuring to the nearest thousandths of a millimeter).

The keyless works

In 1847, LeCoultre created a revolutionary system that eliminated the need for keys to rewind and set watches. A push-piece activated a lever to change from one function to another.

 Early awards & recognition

In 1851 at the first Universal Exhibition in London, LeCoultre was awarded a gold medal in recognition of his collective works in the fields of precision and mechanization.

 The Founding of the Manufacture

Elie LeCoultre, Antoine's son understood that it was necessary to control all the different stages of manufacturing and assembly. In 1866 he transformed his workshop into a 'Manufacture'. Under one roof, his employees were to pool their know-how, enabling them to meet the most incredible challenges. In 1870 LeCoultre & Cie manufactured the components of complicated movements using mechanized processes. Within 30 years, thanks to the marriage of hand and machine, the Manufacture created more than 350 different calibers of which 128 were equipped with chronograph functions and 99 with repeater mechanisms. Today the original workshop has expanded into an all inclusive manufacturing facility, able to produce all components required for a Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece. Recently, construction has begun to expanded the workshop even further. Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to produce luxury timepieces that pass the test of time and are considered by connoisseurs to be among the very best in the world.

 Nineteenth Century Achievement

  • 1844 Invention of the Millionometer.
  • 1847 Invention of the crown winding system.
  • 1851 Gold medal at the Universal Exposition in London.
  • 1867 LeCoultre becomes the first Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux.
  • 1890 The Manufacture makes 125 simple calibers and 31 complicated calibers.

A relationship with Patek Philippe

From 1902 and for the next 30 years, LeCoultre & Cie produced most of the movement blanks for Patek Philippe of Geneva.

 The Coming together of Jaeger & LeCoultre

In 1903, the Parisian Edmond Jaeger challenged the Swiss to manufacture ultra-thin calibers of his own design. Jacques-David LeCoultre, grandson of Antoine undertook the challenge.

 A relationship with Cartier

Cartier, a client of Edmond Jaeger for several years signed an exclusive contract with the Parisian watchmaker in 1907 under which agreement Jaeger, LeCoultre & Cie crafted the stunning watch creations of Cartier.

 Twentieth Century Achievements

Out of the two men's friendship was to emerge one of the most beautiful collections of ultra-thin pocket watches, followed by other creations that would culminate in the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand. In 1907 the JLC Caliber 145 set the record for the thinnest movement at 1.38 mm. However, there were many other achievements of Jaeger-LeCoultre:

  • 1903 World's thinnest pocket watch movement.
  • 1925 Invention of the Duoplan watch.
  • 1930 Manufacturing of the Atmos clock (after purchasing the patent from Jean-Leon Reutter, who invented it in 1920)
  • 1929 World's smallest movement Caliber 101, barely 1 gram and composed of 74 parts.
  • 1931 8-day double-barrel wristwatch Caliber 124.
  • 1931 Creation of the Reverso, designed in Paris by René-Alfred Chauvot and patented on March 4, 1931.
  • 1932 creation of the Uniplan wristwatch.
  • 1937 Official renaming of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand.
  • 1938 Compass miniature camera.
  • 1941 Jaeger-LeCoultre earns the highest distinctions from the Neuchâtel Observatory for its Jaeger-LeCoultre tourbillon Caliber 170.
  • 1946 First Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic watch, caliber 476.
  • 1950 Creation of the Memovox, calibers 489 and 814.
  • 1953 Creation of the Futurematic, automatic watch with no winding-crown.
  • 1956 First automatic alarm wristwatch, the automatic Memovox produced between 1956 and 1968, it is equipped with Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 815.
  • 1958 Geophysic Chronometer, caliber 478BWSbr
  • 1961 Deep Sea Alarm - world's first dive watch with alarm movement! Calibre 815
  • 1962 Ultra-thin Caliber 838.
  • 1967 Jaeger-LeCoultre takes part in the creation of the first quartz wristwatch in watch making history, the Beta 2.
  • 1981 Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 606 with date display and centre seconds is the thinnest in its category.
  • 1982 Caliber 601 earns the title of the world's thinnest movement, and the same year the caliber 608 becomes even thinner.
  • 1983 Caliber 889, with jumping date display is a vivid example. In 1992, this will become the movement which equips the very first watch to surmount the rigorous Master 1000 Hours test.
  • 1989 Grand Réveil, automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 919 comprises no less than 350 parts, a perpetual calendar with moon phases and alarm.
  • 1990 Géographique, Caliber 929 with 24 time zones, day-night indication, power-reserve and a high-frequency balance.
  • 1991 Reverso 60ème manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 824.
  • 1992 Master 1000 Hours, based on an unparalleled set of strict standards, the battery of tests composing the Master 1000 Hours control procedure guarantee the exceptional reliability and precision of the first Master Control.
  • 1993 Reverso tourbillon.
  • 1994 Reverso a minute repeater; Reverso Duo, Caliber 854.
  • 1996 Reverso with a retrograde chronograph.
  • 1998 Reverso with a time-zone mechanism in 1998.
  • 2000 Reverso with a perpetual calendar.

 Peripheral mechanical works

Also, the company has supplied measuring instruments, primarily dashboard instruments such as speedometers and fuel meters. The Jaeger instruments for automobiles were mostly used by the French automobile makers Citroën and Renault.

 A distinction to be made (and a relationship with Longines)

Watches sold in North America were sold under the LeCoultre name from October 1932 to approximately 1985. After that the Jaeger-LeCoultre name was adopted uniformly worldwide. According to factory records and as best as can be determined, the last movement to be used in an American LeCoultre watch shipped out of Le Sentier in 1976.

There is much confusion over the use of LeCoultre name for the North American market. Some collectors and misinformed dealers go so far as to make the erroneous claim that the American LeCoultre has nothing to do with Jaeger-LeCoultre Switzerland. The confusion stems from the fact that, in the 1950s, the North American distributor of LeCoultre watches was the Longines-Wittnauer group, which was also responsible for the distribution of Vacheron & Constantin timepieces. Collectors have confused this distribution channel with the actual manufacturer of the watches. Outside the actual distribution channel, the LeCoultre product, at the manufacturing level, had nothing to do with either Longines, Wittnauer or Vacheron Constantin. In addition, the LeCoultre trademark was owned by the Société Anonyme de la Fabrique D'Horlogerie LeCoultre & Cie, Le Sentier. The LeCoultre trademark expired and was replaced by the Jaeger-LeCoultre trademark in 1985.

 The Atmos- Atmospheric- almost Perpetual Motion Clock & a strange history

Thanks to his friend César de Trey (1876-1953), who will also contribute to the creation of the Reverso), Jacques-David LeCoultre discovers the fascinating "eternal" clock. After a detailed scrutiny of its mechanism, he notes that only the finest watchmakers will be able to rise to this technical challenge. Jean-Léon Reutter (1899-1971)shares this conviction and after years of research was issued a patent in 1926. In 1928, the first prototypes of a clock that draws its energy from the slightest atmospheric variations is presented. Entirely made within the Manufacture since 1936, the Atmos has become a legend of its time. Its prestige earns it status as the official gift of the Swiss Government.

Since some time prior to 1937 a Swiss corporation, Le Coultre & Cie, S.A. (hereafter Le Coultre Co.), had manufactured a clock unique in the horological world by reason of its source of energy. Although spring driven, it was/is so contrived that the spring is wound by very slight changes in the temperature of the atmosphere. No manual winding or other external source of energy is required. These features induced the manufacturer at an early date to name the clock 'Atmos -- the Perpetual Motion Clock.'

Initially it was made in a variety of designs, but by 1937 it was decided to give so unique a mechanism a distinctive outward appearance. Accordingly, the old designs were withdrawn and replaced by the one still in use. It is a simple yet elegant open-dial model made of brass, set on a brass base and covered by a detachable case consisting of four crystal sides and a crystal top set in a brass framework. As of 1954, neither the mechanism nor the design had been patented. The name Atmos, however, which is always used to describe this atmospherically operated clock, has been registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as the property of Establissements Ed. Jaeger of France.

A relationship with Vacheron Constantin

At the time, Le Coultre Co., the manufacturer, had no sales organization. Jaeger, the intervenor, was the sale sales outlet for all Le Coultre Co. products, including the Atmos clock. In 1939 Jaeger in a written contract granted Vacheron the right to sell and advertise the Atmos clock in the United States. This right, however, was not exclusive. The contract reserved to Jacques Cartier, Inc. of New York the right, granted some time in 1937 or before to import and sell Atmos clocks in the United States at retail under the same 'Cartier' which appears prominently on the dial of all the Atmos clocks so sold.

Since 1939, all Atmos clocks, other than Cartier's, sold and displayed in the United States, have been imported by Vacheron and have borne prominently on the dial the name 'Le Coultre' which during the life of their contract Jaeger has authorized Vacheron to use. 'Le Coultre' is registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office as the property of Le Coultre Co., the manufacturer.

Vacheron was a wholly owned and controlled subsidiary of Longines-Wittnauer Watch Co., Inc. of New York (hereafter called Longines). The corporate interrelationship of Vacheron and Longines was generally not known even in the trade. All Vacheron's accounts were carried on the books of Longines which handled all Vacheron's finances. From 1939 to 1949 Vacheron had no sales force of its own and the Atmos Clocks it imported during those 10 years were advertised by Longines and sold by Longines' sales force. Since 1949, however, a separate sales staff which is paid by Longines has been assigned to Vacheron. Both Vacheron and Longines had advertised the Atmos as the Le Coultre Atmos -- The Perpetual Motion Clock. The Atmos is always advertised under that name as a unique clock operated by changes in atmospheric temperature. In July, 1952, the Atmos, whether designated 'Cartier' or 'Le Coultre,' was readily distinguishable from all other clocks then on the market by virtue of its appearance alone as well as by its unique mechanism. Business concerns have frequently chosen the 'Le Coultre' Atmos because of its outstanding appearance and performance as a presentation piece for merit awards.