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Heritage Wonders: Lucky 13 & Polaris Memodate

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Throughout its history, Jaeger‑LeCoultre has been driven by the spirit of inventiveness, its expertise rewarded with more than 400 patents, and its watchmakers’ technical skills and creative imagination embodied in more than 1,200 different calibres.

As these two rare watches from the mid-20th Century demonstrate, every decade has brought fresh ideas and solutions, reflecting the spirit of the times. Among the many changes brought by the 1950s and 60s – represented by each of these watches – were, on one hand, tremendous advances in technology and aerospace, and on the other, the transformation of diving from a challenging pursuit to a widely practised leisure activity.

A rare LeCoultre Polaris Memodate (1967): to be sold at Phillips Geneva, November 2019:

In 1950, Jaeger‑LeCoultre introduced its first wristwatch featuring an alarm and called it the Memovox (‘voice of memory’). As the model become one of the most desirable and reliable on the market, the company introduced different variations, including a date display, a self-winding version and even an alarm designed to time parking meters.

In 1959, noting that diving had begun evolving from a specialist pursuit into a recreational sport enjoyed by thousands, Jaeger‑LeCoultre decided to adapt the Memovox to the sea. The company realised that it could offer both a visual timer (on the inner bezel) and an auditory alarm (which also caused vibration against the case) for ultimate diver safety.

To do so, Jaeger‑LeCoultre created a patented, multi-layer case-back that optimised the alarm’s sound transmission under water. The outer case, with its 16 holes, allowed for the alarm tone to be heard and also felt on the wrist, while the inner case sealed and protected the movement.

Known in the United States as the Polaris, and in Europe as the ‘Montre de plongeur E859’, the reference E859 featured three crowns, each with the cross-hatch pattern characteristic of SuperCompressor watches. The first crown is for time setting, the second rotates the inner bezel for dive timing, and the third rotates the central disc to align the arrow with the alarm time.

The example being offered by Phillips was made in 1967 for the American market and stands out from other models thanks to its very rare dial markings. While most of the dials were stamped Memovox or bore no inscription other than the LeCoultre name, this watch is stamped Memodate.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Memodate Polaris is its combination of two apparently opposite aspects of watchmaking: the tradition of delicate aural complications and the needs of a practical sporting timepiece. In this respect, it epitomises the open-minded spirit of inventiveness that has created such a rich patrimony at Jaeger‑LeCoultre and continues to drive the Maison to this day.

The unique LeCoultre “Lucky 13” (1962): to be sold at Phillips New York, December 2019

The LeCoultre “Lucky 13” is a truly remarkable and unique watch presented by the Chicago Anti-Superstition Society alongside 13 U.S. Senators to an original Mercury Seven U.S. astronaut to commemorate his historic achievement of becoming the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.

Featuring the number 13 at every hour marker, the watch celebrated the Friendship 7 spacecraft capsule used for the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Friendship 7 was the 13th space capsule produced by McDonnell Aircraft Corp, and the 13s on the dial were used to illustrate the society’s rejection of the number 13 as unlucky.

The ceremony, taking place on Friday, April 13th, 1962, was entered in the House Congressional Record on October 13th, 1962. The consignor intends to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this watch to The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

As well as demonstrating Jaeger‑LeCoultre’s technical expertise, the deep meaning and personal connections behind the story of these unique timepieces remind us that watches have always had social and emotional significance – which sometimes even overrides their practical purpose.

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Celebrate Time With A Personalised Engraving On Your Jaeger Lecoultre Reverso

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When Jaeger‑LeCoultre introduced the Reverso almost 90 years ago, its blank metal flip side was designed purely as a functional solution to the need for polo players to protect the delicate glass of their watches. However, it immediately became a canvas for special messages and artistic expression, decorated with enamel or engravings.

Some would commission engravings for themselves – to mark one of life’s milestones or as a reminder of something deeply meaningful. Others would commission engravings as a gift for someone special in their lives – perhaps a significant date, maybe a message of love. Thanks to the Reverso’s design – unlike any other watch – the decoration could be kept secret or flipped over to be displayed to the world.

Continuing this tradition, three of the Maison’s friends share their stories about how they have personalised their Reverso watches.

NICHOLAS HOULT

A watch enthusiast since he was very young, British actor Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite, X-Men, A Single Man) has enjoyed close links with Jaeger‑LeCoultre for the past four years, regularly participating in the Maison’s cinema-related activities. His Reverso, a Reverso Classic Large Small Second in Steel, reflects his relaxed and classical style of dressing and his choice of engraving – his son’s initials – is equally classical, yet deeply personal. The first time he spoke about his baby in an interview, he said that being a father “makes you value time differently” – so it is especially fitting to have his son’s initials engraved on a favourite timepiece.

I engraved the initials HKH as a way to honour my son and keep him close to me every day.  Timepieces have a tradition in my family of being passed down between generations.  I am excited to pass along this watch to my son one day, “ says Hoult, adding that his interest in watches began through his own father’s fascination with timepieces. Through his choice of engraving, Hoult has created a future heirloom with a deep emotional connection to his family.

AMANDA SEYFRIED

Welcomed by Jaeger‑LeCoultre as a friend of the Maison at the beginning of 2019, when she attended SIHH for the first time, American actress Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia! Les Misérables) often speaks about her beloved dog, Finn. Since she rescued the Australian Shepherd from an animal shelter almost a decade ago, he has played a major part in her life.

For the flip side of her Reverso Classic Medium Thin, she asked Jaeger‑LeCoultre’s engravers to reproduce a favourite photograph of Finn. “He’s been my constant companion, unconditional support, and the guiding light in my life,” explains Seyfried. “He’s my forever lucky charm and having his little face against my skin every day will be the perfect reminder of how special our bond is.”

NI NI

With starring roles in The Flowers of War and Love and Destiny among her credits, Ni Ni is one of China’s most acclaimed young actresses. A friend of Jaeger‑LeCoultre since 2018, she has taken an active role off-screen in the Maison’s initiatives to support and preserve the cinematic arts. For her Reverso, Ni Ni has chosen plum blossom as a poignant reminder of her home town – but it could just as easily be seen as an allegory of the actress’s delicate beauty and inner strength.

When I was a child, many Chinese poems about the elegance and resilience of the plum blossom impressed me a lot. In my hometown, Nanjing, we have the ‘best Plum Blossom Mountain in China’ and Xuanwu Lake, where you can find plum trees blooming vibrantly even in winter snow,” Ni Ni explains. “The choice to include these elements was not only due to the classic beauty of the plum blossom, but also because it’s symbolic of perseverance in the face of adversity.” The cool tone of the steel case of Ni Ni’s Reverso Classic Medium Thin makes a beautiful background for the delicate engraving of the plum blossoms.

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Big Bang Special Edition Rockies

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Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot celebrated the opening of its first U.S. mountain-resort boutique in Aspen and launch of the Spirit of Big Bang Special Edition Rockies. The celebration hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, cocktail reception, and dinner alongside friend of the brand, Olympic Gold Medalist, and world champion, Bode Miller.

VIP and members of the media enjoyed an action-packed day set against the unrivaled Aspen landscape, hitting the slopes at Aspen Snowmass while keeping time with Hublot clocks on display throughout the resort. The evening kicked off with an official ribbon cutting ceremony presented by Jean-Francois Sberro, President of Hublot North America, which flowed into a cocktail reception where guests perused Hublot’s latest novelties and mingled with Bode Miller. All attention turned to Jean-Francois Sberro as the hazy white glass of the main vitrines faded to reveal the Spirit of Big Bang Rockies. To cap the day of celebrations, guests dined at legendary members-only Caribou Club, toasting to Hublot’s expanding presence in Aspen.

Hublot has developed strong relationships with leading ski destinations around the world, so we are proud to be opening the first North American mountain-resort boutique in the iconic city of Aspen. We are looking forward to developing our relationship with this incredible city and are grateful for Bode Miller’s continued support.”  -Jean-Francois Sberro, CEO HUBLOT NORTH AMERICA

I am excited to be joining Hublot again as they continue to bring the brand’s culture of excellence to Aspen.” -Bode Miller, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST, HUBLOT FRIEND OF THE BRAND

The Spirit of Big Bang Special Edition Rockies, limited to 25 pieces, features a white ceramic case and blue lined rubber straps, offering another chic take on the brand’s signature Art of Fusion. Designed for the serious and stylish skier, the high-tech ceramic – zirconium dioxide with high temperature sintering – provides a hard and solid case resistant to scratching and ageing, yet lighter than steel. Sporty and sophisticated, the trademark rubber straps add another element of function and style. Outfitted with the quintessential colors of ski season, snow white against clear blue skies, the newest Spirit of Big Bang houses the HUB4700 self-winding chronograph movement inside the iconic 42mm tonneau case.

Hublot Aspen, the brand’s first mountain-resort boutique in North America, will be operating through the winter with a full selection of timepieces in addition to the exclusive special edition Spirit of Big Bang Rockies. Featuring a bar and lounge with evening trading hours, the boutique is perfect for après! Located in the heart of West End, the charming and vibrant bustle of the town encompassed by the Rocky Mountains creates the perfect backdrop for Hublot.

The seasonal boutique supports Hublot’s position as the Official Timekeeper of Aspen Snowmass, one of the most prestigious ski destinations in North America, where Hublot reinforces the mountain culture closely tied to the brand’s Swiss heritage. In addition to this partnership, Hublot has developed strong relationships with leading luxury ski resorts around the world including Courchevel 1850 in the French Alps and Zermatt, where Hublot opened a chalet-styled boutique in both villages, released dedicated limited editions, and signed partnerships with iconic actors and venues affiliated with both resorts. Aspen Snowmass Resort joined the Hublot portfolio sharing the same ambition of being “first, unique and different” and celebrating ski culture.

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The Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45

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It has been more than 85 years since Breitling introduced the first modern chronograph, whose influence on watch design has been incalculable. With its new Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45, featuring its interpretation of one of watchmaking’s grandest complications, the brand has shown that it remains at innovation’s cutting edge. The Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 has an 18 k red gold case and is equipped with Breitling’s Manufacture Caliber B03, a unique split-second movement protected by two patents. Its innovative construction ensures maximum precision, sturdiness, and reliability.

The rattrapante is one of the most sophisticated complications in all of watchmaking. Put simply, with two superimposed central chronograph hands, it can measure two elapsed times simultaneously. The rattrapante feature in the new Breitling Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 is very special indeed, and there are some additional details that define this watch as an instant classic.

The Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 is as aesthetically impressive as it is technically sophisticated. Housed in a big, bold 45 mm 18 k red gold case, it is distinguished by a Stratos Gray dial. Its hour markers and hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova®, which guarantees legibility in all lighting conditions. The watch has a bidirectional rotating bezel with the circular slide rule that has long been associated with Breitling’s Navitimers.

The Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 offers another exquisite detail. Normally, a Breitling Navitimer features a stylized “B” logo with an anchor symbol adorning the base of the chronograph hands. But here there is a subtle refinement, with the logo divided between two hands. The B is on the red chronograph hand, while the anchor sits on the split-second hand. As a result, the two elements of the logo are separated when the split-second hand is stopped and reform when the hands realign with each other.

The split-second pusher, which is housed in the crown at 3 o’clock, serves to stop and restart the split-second hand as often as desired during a timing operation, allowing the wearer to measure split times or compare the results of several competitors.

The Breitling Manufacture Caliber B03 was produced by the brand at its Chronométrie facility in La Chaux-de- Fonds. The COSC-certified chronometer, whose performance can be viewed through the watch’s transparent sapphire caseback, offers a power reserve of around 70 hours and is protected by a five-year warranty. The watch, with its striking 18 k red gold case, is presented on a black alligator leather strap with a pin buckle.

The Navitimer and Breitling’s Chronograph Legacy

Since its development in 1952, the Breitling Navitimer has been one of the world’s most admired chronographs, and, with some recent additions to the family, Breitling has been introducing this watchmaking legend to a whole new generation of enthusiasts around the world.

The Navitimer is arguably the most iconic of all Breitling wristwatches. This twentieth-century classic remains popular in the twenty-first century, more than 65 years after it was first launched to meet the needs of a growing commercial and recreational aviation market. Thanks to the circular slide rule that was capable of performing a range of calculations relevant to aviation, the Navitimer was adopted by pilots and especially favored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Instantly recognizable, this timeless chronograph’s design is as appealing today as it was when it was introduced.

Behind the Navitimer are more than a century’s worth of horological breakthroughs. Breitling developed the first independent pusher located at the 2 o’clock position in 1915 and a second independent pusher in 1934, shaping the modern chronograph in both form and function. The brand introduced a self-winding chronograph – one of the world’s first – in 1969, and all true watch aficionados are passionate about the classic 1944 Duograph, whose split-second chronograph movement was developed in part by Breitling.

Breitling has long been regarded as a leader in mechanical chronograph movements, and the new Navitimer B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 in 18 k red gold enhances the brand’s status, demonstrating just how exciting a mechanical wristwatch can be.

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