Home Interviews In Conversation with Lionel Favre, Product Design Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre

In Conversation with Lionel Favre, Product Design Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre

by Hours and Minutes Australia

“This year we launched the Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 that we nicknamed the Quadriptyque. This is because it has 11 complications on 4 faces. You have a perpetual calendar and minute repeater on the case and what creates all the amazement is the Lunar cycle indications – with lunar cycles of the phases of the moon which is called synodic cycles. We also incorporated two additional cycles which are less known but very beautiful and emotional which is the height of the moon to see where the moon is in reference to the Earth. The draconic cycle is basically the intersection of the moon into the axis between the Earth and Sun, so when the moon is in between Earth and Sun you can create an eclipse. We featured all these cycles on this timepiece, therefore creating what we think is one of the most complicated Reverso’s and Luna Cycle’s ever. We wanted to showcase the complications in a realistic way, so just like you see them in a planetarium, and this was possible by our watchmakers and designers and craftsmen”, Lionel Favre, Product Design Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre

The Quadriptyque takes us back to 1989, when Patek Phillipe introduced the most world’s most complicated timepiece – the Caliber 89 pocket watch. But that was a pocket watch! How challenging was it to bring together 11 complications and still keep the Reverso to a wearable size. What were some of the challenges considering the constraints of the proportions of a Reverso case?

2021 marks the 90th Anniversary of the Reverso. It is the signature collection of Jaeger-LeCoultre. And so we decided to work on the many facets of the Reverso including the Grand Complications. We wanted to showcase all our savoire-fair in the Reverso.

Proportions are very important in the Reverso because as you know the Reverso is a Golden Ratio Proportion and the Quadriptyque is born on the basis on the Triptyque we did in 2006 and we wanted to do better so that’s why we decided to respect the Golden Ratio. It was challenging because there were a lot of complications involved. Challenging for the designers yes, but more so for the watchmakers. The thickness of the case was another factor – The target was to create a watch really wearable. We did not want to create a watch for a museum but something that will be worn by our clients. It’s a 15mm watch – similar to the Polaris in terms of thickness but with 11 complications and 4 faces – so it was very challenging.

Placing the Grande Date next to the flying tourbillon must have been quite a challenge. What are some of the other patents in the Quadriptyque?

The Quadriptyque has 12 patents. 3 of which are new. The first one pertains to the Grande date. We created one of the smallest mechanisms to run the Grande Date. The other patents are on the minute repeater. Sound is very important to Jaeger-LeCoultre and we have been doing Minute repeaters since 1870. I believe we have made more minute repeaters than any watch maison out there. We have the Trebuchet hammers that chime beautifully. We have patents on the gongs – the way we tune them. We attached the gongs to the sapphire crystal. The major innovation in this minute repeater is that we have completely cancelled the gap time, so if you have a silent minute repeater you have a very long gap when there is no quarter for example between hours and minutes. All thanks to two patents we have been successful in completely erasing those gaps.

Another first for the Reverso is the semi-jumping digital hour indication on the Tribute Nonantième, an entirely new, manually wound calibre 826. Talk us through this.

Complications first made their appearance in 1991 in Reverso’s. Before that it was a time only watch. 1991 marked the 60th anniversary of Reverso and it was at that time we created the Reverso Soixantième. Since then we have tried to celebrate our anniversaries with various interpretations featuring incredible complications.

This year we wanted to feature another way of reading time, that is, on the back of the watch. We wanted to reinvent the digital hour complication. The Nonantième showcases the digital hours and minutes with a night and day indication. We chose this complication because we wanted something very consistent with the universe of Reverso and this complication was famous in the 30’s because of its level of purity. It was the perfect fit. Aesthetically it is interesting because you conserve large surfaces of polished metal, so it works very well.

From an industry perspective, there was a recent announcement by a brand, where they successfully converted an entire escapement system into a singular component, using new-age metallurgy. Your thoughts?

Jaeger-LeCoultre being a 188-year-old maison and being created on the idea of innovations – we are all in for continuing to push boundaries of fine watchmaking. That being said watchmaking should remain mechanical in a way and so we are looking for more mechanical ways to improve our watches, precision and also durability, so the watch can last forever and can always have interchangeable parts. Antoine LeCoultre, our founder received many medals for his capacity to create watches whose parts can be easily repaired or replaced, which was very important at the time and still is. And so we are looking into this as opposed to replacing an entire movement with one single part. We are looking into ways of refining the way mechanical watches can perform than just simplifying it. Watchmaking is also about how to create a beautiful movement. It is not just engineering but also beautiful mechanics and we try with our watchmakers to design the mechanics. Everything is done for its beauty. The choice of a colour of a screw for example, is decided for its relevance and beauty.

What is the future of traditional watchmaking, in an era where technology is ever evolving, especially over the last decade?

Personally, I am convinced that watches created with a lot of know-how and skills are real vectors of emotion. I am sure that this is the future of watchmaking. We need to convince our customers with a lot of emotion in our product.

You may also like