Highlighting its expertise in celestial complications, Jaeger-LeCoultre reinterprets its Grande Complication Calibre 945 with two magnificent new interpretations for 2022: Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Galaxia in pink gold and Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 Atomium in white gold. Each offered in a limited edition of five pieces, these new works celebrate La Grande Maison’s artistic creativity and mastery of the decorative crafts while reaffirming its technical ingenuity.
Having fully mastered sidereal time – the measurement used by astronomers to track the apparent movement of the constellations across the night sky – our watchmakers are able to create one-of-a-kind calibres that reproduce these astronomical events on the wrist, bringing complications together in fascinating new ways. Originally created in 2010, Calibre 945 unites a sky chart with a celestial vault, a zodiacal calendar and a minute repeater, and is further elevated by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Cosmotourbillon – a celestial flying tourbillon.
The essence of the watch is the way in which it interprets astronomical timekeeping for the wrist, using the dial to display our link to the cosmos on both a literal and philosophical level – unlike a classical calendar dial, in which we infer that link from the numerical readings.
Highlighting the astronomical aspect of time measurement, our watchmakers developed a mechanism able to display the passing of sidereal time, based on the stars. Set at the centre of the dial, the celestial vault maps the Northern Hemisphere night sky as seen from the 46th parallel – the latitude of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Vallée de Joux – tracking the position of the constellations in real time.
Enhancing this celestial display, the Cosmotourbillon is elevated beyond its purely technical function as a regulating mechanism, measuring the passing of time as it makes a complete, anti-clockwise circuit of the dial in one sidereal day. With a duration of precisely 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds, a sidereal day is defined by Earth’s rotation measured in relation to more distant fixed stars, whereas the 24-hour solar day – our civil time – is measured by Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
A golden sun-shaped pointer set at the edge of the dial indicates the month of the zodiacal calendar and solar time on a 24-hour scale, which is necessary for setting the watch. The Dauphine-shaped hands indicate the minutes and 12-hour cycles of civil time, which are displayed on two concentric rings on the flange of the dial.
An exceptional movement merits an exceptional habillage and the new Master Hybris Artistica Galaxia and Master Hybris Artistica Atomium bring fresh artistic expression to this marriage of complications. Hand-decorated by the artisans in the Métiers Rares® atelier of the Manufacture, the multiple-level dial amplifies the beauty of the celestial theme while also showcasing the Cosmotourbillon.
For the star map, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces grisaille enamel to its repertoire for the first time. A painterly technique that originated in 16th-century France, grisaille enamel is unique in creating a chiaroscuro effect, with an illusion of three-dimensionality created by half-tones and shading.
First, the enameller must perfect the dark background – traditionally blue or black – building the depth and intensity of colour by applying multiple layers, each of which requires firing. Then, using a super-fine brush, the image is added in white enamel, layer by painstaking layer, again with a firing after each stage.
Because thicker enamel creates lighter areas, its application must be controlled with the utmost skill to achieve the ethereal beauty and apparent depth that make grisaille so beguiling. Thanks to this rarefied technique, the dials of the Master Hybris Artistica Calibre 945 depict with utmost artistry the sky that we see above us at night.
This exceptional timepiece also takes Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise in chiming watches to new heights by uniting the astronomical complications with a minute repeater – considered to be the most challenging and rewarding of all horological complications for a watchmaker to master.
The technical difficulty of creating one lies in the complexity of the mechanism needed to transcribe the precise time shown by the hands into a series of perfectly programmed strikes, with different sounds for hours, quarters and minutes.
The artistic challenge is that, this being a miniaturised musical instrument, the chimes must be pure, harmonious and clearly audible. At Jaeger-LeCoultre, this continuing quest for the ideal sound has produced several patented innovations, including crystal gongs, trebuchet hammers and a silent governor. In the minute repeater mechanism of Calibre 945, these inventions contribute a special magic that complements the romance of celestial timekeeping.
In every sense, the new Hybris Artistica interpretations of Calibre 945 are testament to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s enduring expertise in astronomical watches, its dedication to maintaining the fine balance between innovation and tradition, and its devoted quest for a perfect synthesis of art and mechanics.