The Gyrotoubillon by Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most complex pieces of Haute Horlogerie. It’s the kind of timepiece that in one way or another, taps the emotional connect that its loyal enthusiasts crave. Just hours ago, the ‘Grande Maison’ introduced a new version of the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 ‘Meteorite’, a timepiece which marries the technical tour-de-force of its signature multi-axis tourbillon to the finest of artistic craftsmanship.
Following strong design cues from its predecessors, the new Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3, is constructed in pink gold. Considering how complex the watch is, the 43mm case works extremely well and is a true indication of restraint and skill on the manufacturer’s part. Combining a third-generation interpretation of the Gyrotourbillon with an intriguing and highly unusual instantaneous digital display chronograph, it represents mechanical sophistication of the highest order. Every facet of the dial is so immaculately designed that the digital display chronograph does not interfere with the dial’s appearance.
It’s quite evident that blue is the reigning, undisputed colour in watches this year, and the emblematic blue seen on this timepiece has always remained the most preferred colour of the collection. With various elements of the dial showcasing the traditional Rare Handcrafts™ of hand-guillochage, engraving and grand feu enamel, this new model introduces the rarely seen craft of meteorite inlay. The intriguing geometric markings of the silvery-grey meteorite are complemented by the subtle glitter of deep blue aventurine and the glow of pure white grand feu enamel
Found in Namibia, the Gibeon meteorite chosen for this watch is an iron-nickel alloy with an octahedrite crystal structure, formed by the cooling of the asteroid fragment in outer space over the course of billions of years before it crashed to earth in prehistoric times. Exuding an aura of exclusivity and mythical glamour, are the abstract geometric patterns of the intersecting crystal structures that shimmer gently when the material catches light.
In addition to the meteorite inlaid on the German silver bridges, a disc of meteorite sits at the centre of the time display dial, surrounded by a ring of aventurine with applied indexes. On the chronograph display, an aventurine disc is encircled by a ring of white grand feu enamel, marked with elapsed seconds. The Day/Night display comprises a 24-hour plate on which two gold semi-circles are applied, one each for day and night. The white day section is decorated with hand-guilloché, hand-engraved sunrays and an applied polished pink gold sun; the night section features applied polished pink gold crescent moon and stars, set on a rich blue background.
It is on the back of the movement that the meteorite truly takes centre stage. Eagle-eyed watch wearers are in for a real treat. The lively yet subtle mixture of colour and texture – blued screws, ruby jewels, the shiny aspect of the hand-chamfered and hand-polished jewel countersinks, bridges and plates, and the matt finish of the brushed borders of the German silver plates – offsets the abstract geometric patterns of the meteorite, which adorns all of the plates and bridges.
A skill mastered by very few craftsmen in the world, meteorite inlay requires a rare degree of precision and dexterity. First, the artisan must hollow out the surface of the German silver plate or bridge, to a depth that exactly matches the thickness of the meteorite fragment, leaving only a fine fillet of German silver at the borders. Once the new surface has been polished, the meteorite must be laid so that its edges fit seamlessly within the complex, curving borders and its surface lies exactly flush with them, to form a completely flat and unified plane. It is work of the utmost refinement and precision, measured in fractions of a millimetre.
Between the 5 and 6 o clock position is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s multi-axis ‘Gyrotourbillon’. It comprises two cages, set at two different angles, turning opposite directions, at different speeds, with a blued spherical balance spring beating like a heart in their centre. In the absence of a tourbillon bridge, the cantilevered all-aluminium cages of Gyrotourbillon 3 appear to be suspended in space.
At the heart of the new Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 Meteorite is a Hand-wound Calibre 176 movement, with a fully integrated chronograph, which displays the seconds on a traditional round dial and elapsed minutes on an instantaneously jumping digital counter.
A resolutely modern watch that bears the finesse of centuries old craftsmanship and heritage.