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Q&AParley On Precision: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Product Design Director Expounds On Their Theme Of The Year

A new multi-axis tourbillon and a refreshed Duometre collection present precision as the theme of the year for Jaeger-LeCoultre. Product design director, Lionel Favre spoke to us about these novelties and more. Here are some excerpts

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Could you offer your perspective on the year of precision and this year’s novelties?

As you know, it’s the year of precision. Precision is important to us, as you’ve read in the press release. (Brand co-founder) Antoine LeCoultre created the first tool used to make some really accurate components for accurate watches. But much more than that, I think precision is sort of the soul of a watch. At every stage of the development we have to have a strong view on precision. Everything starts with the engineering. There is precision of the assembly and precision of design. Precision is the intrinsic value of a watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre product design director Lionel Favre interview precision Duometre gold watches
“Duometre was launched in 2007, and we wanted to give this collection a refresh with a complete redesign of the case, with new novelties,” says Lionel Favre, product design director, Jaeger-LeCoultre. Pictured here is the new Duometre Chronograph Moon

How do you decide on the focus collection of the year? Last year it was the Reverso; this year, it’s the Duometre.

It’s simple because we have many collections. We have the Duometre, Rendez-Vous, Master, Reverso, Polaris, the 101, and the Atmos. It’s a vast panel and it’s important to give visibility to each of these collections. Duometre was launched in 2007, and we wanted to give this collection a refresh with a complete redesign of the case, with new novelties. We see this collection as sort of a signature of the brand, like the Reverso.

Jaeger-LeCoultre product design director Lionel Favre interview precision Duometre gold watches
An older Duometre, this edition is one with a lunar calendar

What is the demand for high-complication watches like presently? Is there still a demand among collectors, or are such watches more about showing the maison’s savoir faire and watchmaking expertise?

I think it’s both. We do have demand from collectors, but not just collectors. We have an increasing interest from people who are keen to know what goes on behind complex watches. And they appreciate a lot the engineering parts and crafts and the fact that these are premium quality product. There is a lot of novelty behind our watches. We have an increasing number of collectors… I don’t like to say ‘collectors’ as much. It’s more ‘watchmaking aficionados’ who want these exceptionally well-done and well-engineered watches.

The Watch Guide
"We do have demand from collectors, but not just collectors. We have an increasing interest from people who are keen to know what goes on behind complex watches." Seen here is a Polaris timepiece, with the prestigious perpetual calendar complication

According to you, what complication represents the brand the best, and which complication are you personally partial towards?

We have three specialities in complications. There’s sound, there’s precision, and there’s the celestial. In sound, it’s minute repeaters and Memovox (for mechanical alarms). For celestial, there’s the perpetual calendar, lunar cycles with moon phases, and so on. And for precision, there’s the tourbillon. This year we have a Duometre with a triple-axis tourbillon. I like the magic of multi-axis tourbillons. They are captivating to look at. Everything is placed in a space just about 8mm wide—over 100 components. It’s really fascinating to see how it works.

The Watch Guide

"This year we have a Duometre with a triple-axis tourbillon. I like the magic of multi-axis tourbillons"

The Watch Guide

"They are captivating to look at. Everything is placed in a space just about 8mm wide—over 100 components. It’s really fascinating to see how it works"

The Watch Guide

This multi-complication Duometre also features displays of the date, day, month, year, moon phase and the power reserve, while the tourbillon cage gets prominence at nine o'clock

What are the most prominent trends you’ve observed in watchmaking over the last couple of years, in terms of complications, features, materials and so on?

I’m very happy with the comeback of elegance. A few years ago, there was a lot of focus on technical pieces. I feel that elegant pieces have come back—with technical aspects, yes, but elegance has become more important again.

If there is a conflict between design and technical aspects, then how are things resolved?

You know, we are very lucky, because in our manufacture, when we start with designing a new product, everything begins with a discussion between all those involved in the development of the product. Design is not just a cosmetic part; it’s a product of collaborative work. We try to find a good way together but, for sure, at the end the main direction is always towards precision and reliability. Without high precision and reliability, there is no project. It is postponed till we can find a solution. The task of the designer is to try helping with such solutions, even if we have to move some hands or a disc, we find a better way to do that.

How do collaborations like the one with Casa Fagliano come about? (Casa Fagliano are the Argentinian makers of leather goods, who are known for their boots meant for equestrian sports, such as polo)

With them it seemed like a good opportunity. It made sense because they cater to the world of polo with their products, and the Reverso collection started with polo, so it made sense for us to get into that partnership. We don’t do too many because we like to keep our focus in-house.

The Watch Guide

"With Casa Fagliano it seemed like a good opportunity. It made sense because they cater to the world of polo with their products, and the Reverso collection started with polo, so it made sense for us to get into that partnership"

The Watch Guide

The Casa Fagliano straps feature a very distinctive combination of leather and canvas

The Watch Guide

The Reverso collection's origins go back to polo-playing English officers in India, who wanted a watch that could be flipped over to be protected while they'd play with their mallets

What are the craziest product ideas that you and the team have come up with, whether they were executed or not?

Actually, we have one really crazy idea, but I can’t tell you more because we are going to do it. It will happen. You know, we’ll be celebrating 100 years of the Reverso in 2031. We have a crazy idea for that, but I can’t tell you anything more. It’s a long process to develop and we are already working on it.

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