Anatomy of a
Classic Watch

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Anatomy of a Classic Watch

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Range hits all the right marks

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At its best, a classic timepiece is essentially jewelry with a job to do. It's the unique marriage of form and function that's equal parts decorative and purposeful. That's why the greatest watches are built to stand the test of time. A quality watch is an investment. And one that you can have with you for decades and maybe even pass down to a child, if they're lucky. That's why you want a watch with classic good looks. Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Swiss luxury watchmaker that's been turning out well made watches for 187 years, relaunched their Master Control Collection this year with redesigned cases and modern updates. After all, blending traditions and innovations is what makes this watch brand so successful. And while these appear to be from the 1950s, the collection only debuted in 1992. The watches were designed to pay homage to the “golden age” of watchmaking by embracing midcentury proportions and the values of reliability and permanence—all markers of a fine timepiece. Herewith, a breakdown of what went into these modern-day classics.

The Case

Put simply, the case is the part of the watch that houses all the timekeeping elements, protecting them from normal wear and tear as well as the elements. Jaeger-LeCoultre has subtly updated its cases for this line, drawing on its great round watch designs of the middle part of the last century. Made from polished stainless steel, they feature a clear “exhibition case back” window to show off the inner workings of the timepiece.


A chronograph is a essentially a timepiece equipped with a stopwatch, complete with buttons (known as pushers) for start, stop and reset. The new complete calendar chronograph with moon-phase is the star of Jaeger-LeCoultre's newly revamped Master Control line. The watchmakers even found just enough space for a pulsometer scale running around the outside edge of the dial—a subtle nod to the 1950s timepieces that are extremely popular among collectors today.

The Movement

A classic watch is powered by a spring, known as the mainspring, which transmits energy as it gradually unwinds. An automatic watch's mainspring is wound by the natural motions of the wearer's wrist while it is being worn. The Calibre 759 self-winding movement (which powers the Master Control Chronograph Calendar) is a column-wheel chronograph with vertical clutch—which is basically watch-speak for “the very smoothest and most sophisticated operation.”

Dial and
Hour Markers

The dial (also known as the face) and the hour markers are the portions of the watch that displays the time. With this collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre is showcasing the power of restraint in dial design. This could almost be mistaken for a mid-century watch thanks to the subtle sunray textured finish that gives it a slight silvery shimmer. The sharply tapered arrowheads that mark the hours also have a handsome, throwback quality.

Explore the Collection

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar Automatic Chronograph 40mm Stainless Steel and Leather Watch at MR PORTER

Master Control
Calendar automatic chronograph,
$14,500 by Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date Automatic 40mm Stainless Steel and Leather Watch

Master Control
Date automatic,
$6,700 by Jaeger-LeCoultre

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Automatic 40mm Stainless Steel and Leather Watch

Master Control
Memovox automatic,
$11,600 by Jaeger-LeCoultre


Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Collection

Jaeger-LeCoultre not only makes all movements in-house, the brand also makes all of their cases, dials and hands, which allows for greater flexibility with innovation and experimenting.

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