The Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture unveils its new Heritage Gallery
Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils the new gallery devoted to showcasing the Brand’s Heritage at its Vallée de Joux Manufacture in the village of Le Sentier. The Heritage Gallery is designed as an unprecedented encounter with the Maison and its rich history that constantly inspires creativity, even to this day – a setting that stirs the emotions and stimulates dialogue.
The journey begins with an exposition of the Maison’s outstanding historical archives, never before shown to the public, that constitute the “memory” of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Registers, documents, and old books have been meticulously categorised and line the shelves of the big archive room. They illustrate the Maison’s creative force since its earliest days. We can see here that as of the 19th century, the Manufacture was supplying its movements to most of the major watchmaking Maisons. A Patek Philippe pocket watch with a LeCoultre movement is even displayed here for the first time to typify this characteristic of Jaeger-LeCoultre, “watchmaker to the watchmakers”. The Maison’s archives are a significant asset and source of endless inspiration to today’s designers. In this space, visitors get a real sense of that resource. A shelf displays an old cabinet stocked with components, so those who enjoy bygone curiosities can feast their eyes. It is like stepping back into history...
A very fluid experience, the tour leads into an elegant room bathed in light, with an airy curved staircase winding upwards in the middle. Here the Maison’s iconic pieces are on display, with modern-day creations basking in the glory of past masterpieces in a continuum that is purposely highlighted by three-panelled display cases. Atmos, Reverso, Geophysic – the Maison’s great icons are displayed in a setting that helps visitors understand how the current collections are legitimately descended from the rich legacy of the LeCoultre Maison and of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
As an example, the backdrop for the Reverso illustrates the Art Deco era when the watch was launched, along with the polo fields of India where it then took root. The display gives an insight into how the model has evolved over the decades, without losing its essence. The story is also brought to life in a digital animation shown in the central display case.
Upstairs, the journey continues past the restoration workshop where watchmakers labour calmly at their workbenches behind the wall of glazing that shields them. Jaeger-LeCoultre is a master in the art of restoration, and in this demonstration each stage is explained – since the old timepiece is received and appraised, through the search for components and supplies, up until the restoration itself.
The artisans are happy to answer questions and engage with visitors who are curious about their professional vocation, and all the passion and patience it requires. This demonstration of the Brand’s expertise in the field of restoration is reassuring for the client, because this workshop is the only place where the watches can be restored in keeping with traditional methods.
Most watches that are restored here date from the late 1920s to the late 1980s, with some exceptional pieces even dating back to the 19th century. Restoration is carried out both to the movement and to the external parts of the watch. The challenge for the watchmakers is to get the movement back into working order and return the piece to its original appearance. If the components cannot be repaired or exchanged for stock items, the watchmakers will manufacture new ones using the original design drawings. It is a genuine made-to-measure service.
THE JAEGER-LECOULTRE MANUFACTURE
Since its creation, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been delighting and surprising devotees of beautiful objects. In keeping with the inventive spirit initiated in 1833 by its founder Antoine LeCoultre, the artisans of the Manufacture combine their talents and expertise to create collections which have been at the forefront of watchmaking both technically and artistically: Reverso, Master, Rendez-Vous, Duomètre, Geophysic and Atmos – this rich legacy built by the Grande Maison over centuries serves as a constant source of inspiration in its ongoing pursuit of excellence. In the wake of many legendary models, the 21st century has seen the emergence of the Hybris Mechanica™ and Hybris Artistica™ collections. These rare pieces are as surprising as they are sophisticated yet again bearing witness to the creative passion of the men and women who work in symbiosis under its roof – some of them descending from a long line of watchmakers.
For Jaeger-LeCoultre, 2017 is an opportunity to reveal watchmaking treasures of stunning beauty from four of its iconic collections: Rendez-Vous, Reverso, Geophysic and Hybris Artistica™. After celebrating the Reverso’s 85th anniversary in style in 2016, the time has come for the Manufacture to elevate the new Rendez-Vous line to the apex of ladies’ watches; to highlight how the spirit of the Reverso Classic is freer than ever with its automatic movement perfectly embodying the Art Deco philosophy; to pursue the constant renewal of the Geophysic legend; and to showcase mysterious time by creating unique timepieces in very limited editions for the Hybris Artistica collection™.