The Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture

May 17, 2010 | Jaeger-LeCoultre, Watchmaking

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 Swtizerland, 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. This is where many of the world's best watches are produced. And this, is what makes a trip to the Joux Vallée, so intriguing.

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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. After that we visited the a department that consisted of handful enamel painters, hand engravers and other watch artists. We eventually finished up by viewing some museum pieces and then the new timepieces from SIHH, including the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2

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Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-2.jpg Main lobby of Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-28.jpg Jaeger-LeCoultre Founder's Statue and Plaque

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-8.jpg South end of the manufacture

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-23.jpg Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture South wing

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.

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-20.jpg Jaeger-LeCoultre Special Hybris Mechanica collector's watch safe

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-6.jpg Custom engraved gold Reverso casebacks

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-13.jpg Movement baseplates and bridges

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-5.jpg Escapements being prepared prior to assembly

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-14.jpg Uncased Duometre movement

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-3.jpg Complicated timepieces at the Haute Horology department

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-18.jpg More complicated timepieces at the Haute Horology department

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-1.jpg Screws that have just been blued

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-15.jpg Hand-painted enamel timepieces

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-17.jpg Another look at the beautiful hand-painted dials in their in-house "Enamel" department, mostly Reverso watches

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-4.jpg Miniature watch parts and the tools that help create them

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-11.jpg Another shot of the Vallee de Joux, an area that wasn't quite as cold and snowy as at the Jaeger-LeCoultre factory

Minute-repeater-Jaeger-LeCoultre.jpg Jaeger-LeCultre Minute Repeater

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-ProfessionalWatches-2010-16.jpg A high-end Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece with a beautiful three-quarter plate

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-ProfessionalWatches-22.jpg Display case of custom Enamel painted and engraved Reverso watches

After viewing and photographing the timepieces, Marc Menant and I met Jaeger-LeCoultre Marketing Director, Stéphane Belmont, and Creative Director, Janek Deleskiewicz. We then went to the restaurant that is frequently used as a place to meet with clients, press and business partners. One of the best features of this restaurant, other than the amazing French cuisine, is a perfect view of Lac de Joux out the window, from our table. Our lunch was a delicious five course meal, including white fish that was actually caught in the Lac de Joux. We also enjoyed an excellent bottle of Swiss Riesling white wine. 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 marketing strategy, is to focus on great products. 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.

Reverso-minute-repeater.jpg Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Minute Repeater (from manufacture museum)

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-26.jpg Minute Repeater from Jaeger-LeCoultre Museum

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-24.jpg Minute Repeater from Jaeger-LeCoultre Museum

Jaeger-LeCoultre-Manufacture-Tour-2010-27.jpg Minute Repeater from Jaeger-LeCoultre Museum

Jaeger-LeCoultre is a traditional haute horology manufacturer, but what is so amazing, is that they produce so many different watch collections. 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 a half-day tour I did not have enough time to visit every single department, for every collection. I was, however, able to visit departments from all stages of production. After touring the factory, I am even more amazed at 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.