In March, a day before Baselworld started, I had the opportunity to visit and tour one of my favorite manufactures, Jaeger-LeCoultre. About an hour outside of Geneva, in the French-speaking part of Swtitzerland, Jaeger-LeCoultre is situated in “the cradle of fine watchmaking” – the Vallee de Joux. Along with Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Joux Vallée is home to some of the world’s top haute horology manufactures, including Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Frederic Piguet and more. In fact, on the way to the Jaeger-LeCoultre factory, coming from Geneva, you actually drive by Audemars Piguet and Frederic Piguet manufactures, which are all within minutes of each other. The Vallée de Joux consists of 10 villages in a valley of the Jura mountains.
South end of the manufacture
After arriving in La Sentier, I met with Jaeger-LeCoultre Product Manager, Marc Menant to begin a tour of the factory. We toured the design, assembly, after-sales service departments first. Then we toured numerous departments which manufactured all the parts needed to produce a watch. We then toured the ATMOS department, which was filled with shelves of the ATMOS clocks.
Following that, we visited a department that consisted of a handful enamel painters, hand engravers and other watch artists. Finally, we viewed some of the most important museum pieces and then the new timepieces from SIHH, including the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2
This unique safe is part of a 3-piece collector’s set (shown here) that includes the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie, the Gyrotourbillon Mechanica and the Reverso Mechanica à Tryptique. These are three of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most complicated timepieces.
Preceding the tour, we met with Jaeger-LeCoultre Marketing Director, Stéphane Belmont, and Creative Director, Janek Deleskiewicz, for lunch. We ate at a nearby restaurant with excellent French cuisine, and most importantly, a perfect view of Lac de Joux out the window. Our lunch was a five-course meal, including white fish that was caught in the aforementioned lake that morning.
Fittingly, we also drank an excellent bottle of Swiss Riesling white wine with the fish. The wine, like German and French Riesling, came from white grapes grown along the Rhine, in Switzerland. During lunch, we discussed Jaeger-LeCoultre and their many product lines. In talking with Stéphane and Janek, I learned that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s main philosophy is centered around great products. As any good company should be. And I think it is clear that the company is focused on that. As they continue to offer an excellent range of innovative high quality timepieces that stay true to traditional watchmaking.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Minute Repeater (from museum)
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a traditional haute horology manufacturer, and what is so amazing is the breadth of watches the make. They produce nine different collections, including the Reverso, Duomètre, Master Grande Tradition, Master Control, Master Compressor, AMVOX, Haute Joaillerie, Horological Excellence and ATMOS lines.
On the half-day tour, I did not have enough time to visit every single department, however, I was able to visit departments from all stages of production. After touring the factory, I am even more impressed by what Jaeger-LeCoultre is capable of doing. From traditional, to haute jewelry pieces, to ultra complicated, to sporty, to high-tech. Whatever type of timepiece you like, Jaeger-LeCoultre has the ability to design and manufacture it, from start to finish, all in-house. They are truly one of the most complete manufactures in the world.