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Two weeks on the wrist: The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date

A surprisingly accessible timepiece, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date is an exercise in restraint and subtlety.

I must admit, I was initially ambivalent about the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date. I tend to lean towards watches with liberal lashings of black; my current collection comprises the Tudor Black Bay Dark, the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition (with the dark-as-night dial) and the all-black Casio G-Shock GA 2100, more lovingly known as the CasiOak. Some might call it boring. Personally, I find it easier to match dark watches with my usually casual ensemble.

So, when I received the Master Control Date, I was slightly underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful watch. The sunray-brushed silver dial contrasts beautifully with the light brown Novonappa calf strap and the heat-blued seconds hand looks even better in the flesh. But, in a world inundated with sound and fury, subtlety tends to fade into the background. The Master Control Date was the epitome of restraint.

(Related: Check out the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition, which only has eight pieces in the world)

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date has the date window at three o'clock.

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date has the date window at three o’clock.

Jaeger-LeCoultre could have updated the Master Control collection, which has been around since 1992, to fit today’s era. But it didn’t. And after having spent many days wearing the watch, I am glad JLC stayed true to the Master Control’s design roots.

The biggest changes were made underneath the hood. The watchmaker fitted it with the new Calibre 899, enabling the timepiece to be slimmed down to a mere 8.8mm thick. The size, or lack of it, was something I grew to appreciate the more time I spent with the watch. The new calibre also features new escapements and pallets constructed from silicon, which minimises friction and consumes less energy, and an oscillating wheel held together by titanium fixing screws. Previously, they were crafted from steel.

In another display of technical brilliance, the slim profile belies the lengthy power reserve of the Master Control Date – 70 hours, thanks to a redesigned barrel that could accommodate a longer and stronger mainspring.

(Related: Why Dr Stefan Ma is crazy about Jaeger-LeCoultre watches)

The Calibre 899 of the JLC Master Control Date.

The Calibre 899 of the JLC Master Control Date.

There is a reason why Jaeger-LeCoultre is termed “the watchmaker’s watchmaker”.

But it wasn’t the engineering brilliance nor the heavyweight history of the range that drew me in. Much like love, it was an inexplicable attraction that grew each time I strapped on the watch. Its versatility definitely played a part. The Master Control Date skilfully paired with the more formal office codes or my usual ensemble of tees, jeans and Air Jordans.

There is something to be said about a watchmaker that stays true to a range’s design roots, unswayed by the fickle opinions of the mob. Perhaps in a world inundated with sound and fury, subtlety and restraint are what we need. In many ways, the Master Control Date represents those values.