Chiming in: Jaeger-LeCoultre presents its most impressive Gyrotourbillon yet
Want a miniature Big Ben on your wrist? The new Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel can chime the famous Westminster carillon, the same tune that plays at London’s Westminster Palace.
When Jaeger-LeCoultre announces a new Gyrotourbillon, people take notice. The Master Gyrotourbillon I was first unveiled in 2004 and it was one of the only multi-axis tourbillons on the market. Thanks to the explosive popularity of tourbillons in the years that followed, the brand inevitably faced competition from other watchmakers creating all sorts of rotating wizardry.
But its Gyrotourbillons easily kept pace with the addition of new and different complications, reengineering to fit into swivelling cases, resizing for a better fit, or all of the above.
Now though, in order to excite an overindulged watch community, Jaeger-LeCoultre needed something that would blow its predecessors out of the water, and the Master Grand Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpetuel did just that.
The fifth and latest Gyrotourbillon promises everything in its name. The spherical tourbillon continues to combat the positional errors that arise from gravity, bumping up precision to a maximum deviation of just -1/+1 second a day. The tourbillon is noticeably smaller, allowing not just for more wearable dimensions but room for a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater.
Equipped with four gongs instead of the standard two, this repeater is able to chime the famous Westminster carillon, the same tune the Big Ben plays at London’s Westminster Palace. Such repeaters are understandably rare because of their complexity and this is only the second one Jaeger-LeCoultre has ever made, after the Hybris Mechanica Duometre a Grande Sonnerie from 2009.
Included are a number of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s chiming innovations. A silence-reduction function ensures that there is no time delay between strikes even if there are no quarter hours to be struck. Articulated and sprung trebuchet hammers deliver strong and quick strikes to the gongs, which are welded to the sapphire crystal instead of the movement for improved sonority. It also borrows the retractable repeater pusher from the Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon.
The perpetual calendar, a desirable and useful addition to any watch, has been made even more convenient here by allowing the calendar to be adjusted in either direction. The dates are engraved in relief on a ring surrounding the dial, while jumping months and days are indicated at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock respectively.
There’s more. The Calibre 184 includes a remontoir d’egalite, or constant force mechanism, that delivers uniform torque through a second spring that is re-armed by the mainspring every sixty seconds. Because of this one-minute recharge, the mechanism has the added benefit of enabling a much more precise chiming of the minute strike mechanism from the repeater.
It’s a visual feast on the back of the watch, with an exhibition case back allowing a full view of the lavish movement, which runs at 4Hz and has an autonomy of 50 hours. There’s a lot packed into a case measuring just 43mm by 14.08mm, which Jaeger-LeCoultre hopes will encourage the actual wearing of such a complex timepiece. Limited to 18 pieces in white gold with either a blue guilloche enamel dial or silver-grained dial.