Since time immemorial, the moon has exercised an inexorable pull over us mere mortals, inspiring art and music, sonnet and song. So enticing is her allure that we have even sought to keep her close when she retires for the day by wearing an image of her on our wrists.
The Vallée de Joux, nestled amid the Jura mountains in the Swiss canton of Vaud, would have played a serene stage for the moon to shine (pun intended) when Jaeger-LeCoultre established its headquarters there in 1833. The manufacture has frequently celebrated its nocturnal heroine over the decades, and 186 years after its founding, brings together the wealth of its watchmaking savoir faire in two iterations, each featuring a moon phase.
The Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel evokes the enigma that is Lady Luna with an extremely thin case defined by graceful curves and pure lines. Guilloché and enamelling — two rare crafts worked by hand with the assistance of century-old machines that the manufacture has kept alive for generations — breathe character into the slender timepiece. Contrasting the gleam of the 10.04mm white gold case is the intense midnight blue hue of the guilloché enamel dial.
Guilloché infuses depth and dimension into the dark dial with its relief effect, a play of texture that juxtaposes the smooth, gliding enamel base. The latter looks deceptively straightforward but really demands extreme concentration and infinite patience, for laying down the translucent blue enamel layer is painstaking work executed entirely by hand.
White gold is called upon again in the hour markers, single strokes that are doubled at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. While they glint as they catch the light, it is the counter south of the dial that effortlessly commands attention. An aperture houses the polished moon phase indicator within a white gold date ring, exerting the same magnetic charm of the moon with its simultaneous presence and discretion.
It is this opulent complication that summarises the dexterity born of nearly two centuries of watchmaking experience. The phases of the moon play out against a vivid blue backdrop studded with stars and the stellar tableau is especially striking when the moon is full.
So complex is this latest iteration to the Master Ultra Thin line that only 100 pieces were produced. Each is powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 952, an automatic mechanical movement with an impressive 70-hour power reserve.
Where the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel illustrates the night sky on its dial, the Rendez-Vous Moon takes on a more light-hearted aesthetic. The 34mm timepiece wears a silvered guilloché dial, which orchestrates a harmonious marriage of materials and precious stones. Pink gold or steel forms the case and the bezel is eloquently set with 60 brilliant-cut diamonds, mirrored in a ring of smaller diamonds — 47 in all — that occupies the middle of the dial. Hands are pink gold or blued steel, depending on the model, and floral numerals — a signature of the collection — tell the time with the aid of chatons that skim the boundary of the dial. The overall effect is one of pleasing symmetry.
The highlight of this timepiece is its namesake, naturally — an ultra-feminine moon phase of remarkable grace and sophistication. Entirely reworked by the Grande Maison’s Rare Handcrafts division, the complication comprises a disc at 6 o’clock, in which a delicately polished moon cycles through its phases against a lacquered starry sky, seemingly carried by a sea of clouds. When full and lush, the radiant moon reminds the observer that the circle still reigns supreme as the predominant geometric shape in the Rendez-Vous collection, as it does in the sky.
Animating this lovely piece is the Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic Calibre 925A with a 40-hour power reserve, visible through the open case back. Interchangeable straps or bracelets add to the playful, almost coquettish, appeal of the Rendez-Vous Moon.
Side by side, the two new releases evoke distinct dispositions. Both are erudite expressions of the breadth of skills housed within a single manufacture and exhibit the nuances capable of dexterous hands. Restrained and jubilant respectively, but equally breathtaking in their presentation, they evince a recurrent idea perpetuated by the esteemed watchmaker — that high artistry and technical ingenuity are by no means mutually exclusive.
For more information, visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.