Our Behind the Brand series aims to delve into the history of some of the greatest watchmakers in the world, exploring what it is that makes them so notable. This time, we look at Swiss master horologists Jaeger-LeCoultre, one of the most well-respected and beloved watchmaking brands in the world.
Whether you’re new to the world of watches or looking for the next piece to add to your collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre is a name that should definitely be on your list. Unique, elegant, and technically ground-breaking, the timepieces produced by this manufacturer are designed to stand out.
Here, we’ll talk you through this historical watchmaker that is based in the home of horology: Switzerland. Who exactly are Jaeger-LeCoultre, and where did they begin? Read on to find out more.
Before Jaeger-LeCoultre, there was LeCoultre, a Swiss watch and clockmakers founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1853. He and his company started out making watch parts but eventually he became known as a timepiece inventor. Famous for innovating movements and precision, his inventions earned him gold awards as he began breaking records and earning plenty of world-firsts under his belt. Most notably, he invented the Millionometre — the only machine at the time capable of measuring a micron — the keyless watch, and the near-perpetual Atmos clock.
LeCoultre revolutionised watchmaking by popularising complicates, extra features on a watch such as chronometers or perpetual calendars, by producing them small enough to include more than one on each timepiece. This started a trend among watchmakers of including at least three per watch. He also modernised watch production along with his son, bringing workers together under one roof rather than having them work separately in small workshops, which set the standard for Swiss watch manufacturing.
In 1903, Antoine LeCoultre’s grandson, Jacques-David LeCoultre, accepted a challenge from the watchmaker to the French Navy, Edmond Jaeger, to use some new slim watch parts he had invented. He succeeded, and together they produced the worlds thinnest pocket watches in 1907. The mechanisms they came up with are still included in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s pocket watches today.
Shortly afterwards, Cartier, one of the most prestigious watchmakers in Paris, signed an exclusive deal with Jaeger that meant for 15 years all LeCoultre's innovative movements would belong to them. It was this partnership that led Jaeger and LeCoultre to merge into one company, becoming Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937.
Throughout the decades, Jaeger-LeCoultre have continued to put innovation and quality at the forefront of everything they do. The Memovox, launched in 1950, featured an alarm system that could be used for appointments and timetables, and later models could even remind divers to return to the surface. The ground-breaking 1958 Geophysic was designed for use on expeditions to Antarctica and was resistant to water, shocks, and magnetic fields.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new designs marry sport with elegance, as well as a sense of adventure. Whether you prefer technical tool timepieces or sophisticated dress watches like the Reverso, their vast range has a watch to suit every occasion.
Today, the company pays tribute to the brand’s founder by continuing to innovate, finding new methods and processes to improve their production. In 2016, they were one of only three major watchmaking companies in Switzerland to address environmental issues and climate change, particularly pertaining to manufacturing processes. This shows a commitment to excellence that very few other luxury brands possess.
The unique watches that Jaeger-LeCoultre produce have attracted the attention of royalty, celebrities, and watch aficionados alike throughout the years. The list of their fans includes entertainers such as Charlie Chaplin and Leonardo DiCaprio, explorers like Amelia Earhart, and even world leaders Queen Elizabeth II and Bill Clinton among many others.
So, if you’re a fan of technical perfection, precision, and innovation, but you also have an eye for design and favour an adventurous style, Jaeger-LeCoultre is the brand for you. The company has been around for over 100 years and it continues to be a key player in Swiss watchmaking, making the pieces they produce extremely collectable.
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in checking out the rest of our blog, with plenty of great jewellery and watch advice. If history is more your thing, why not check out our Rolex or Cartier Behind the Brand articles?