Hybris Artistica, twelve timepieces united in a unique collection

Watches | 4 August 2014

Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils twelve unique and precious timepieces symbolising the horological excellence of the Grande Maison. The new watch collection builds on the fascination generated by grand complication watches and by the Hybris Mechanica collection that the Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux has been developing over the years. The Hybris Artistica timepieces epitomise the unique spirit of inventiveness brought to life by 180 century-old skills in a ‘calendar’ of wonderment combining as never before watchmaking art and transcendent creativity. Watchmaking sensations: the quest for balance Hybris Artistica further enhances the iconic masterpieces of the brand and demonstrates the boundless creativity as well as the rich watchmaking culture of the Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux.

Faithfully perpetuating traditional watchmaking, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents complicated watches with specially crafted cases each more sophisticated than the next. Each of the twelve models in the Hybris Artistica collection represents an unprecedented blend of design, technical construction, watchmaking art and exquisite craftsmanship to achieve the point of equilibrium that dramatically expresses the Manufacture’s mastery and style. Through daring materials and strong aesthetic choices, the Manufacture draws upon the talent of its artisans while eluding technical traps and constraints. It submits its cases and movements to the ultimate demands of beauty and excellence. Such is its singular vision that has been successfully mingling tradition and invention for over 180 years.

180 skills under one roof
What is a fine watchmaking timepiece if not the extraordinary sum of the technical knowledge, experience and expertise shared and cultivated by the more than 1,300 people working at the Manufacture? The Grande Maison carries on the impetus set in motion by Antoine LeCoultre. Since 1833, this watchmaker was able to instil into his company the principle of making in-house the tools of the trade as well as every watch component emerging from the workshops. This approach that was at once historical and historic, earned the Manufacture a notable reputation for the rare skills required to design and manufacture remarkable timepieces. The making of a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch is a multi-facetted process involving countless cells of expertise working together to create living tissue. From profile turning to casing-up, through stamping, jewelling, chamfering, decorating the movement, as well as making adjustments, fitting the hands and assembly, all the crafts involved represent a constantly tested foundation of expertise as well as a shared set of human and horological values. Employees of the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre master in all respects the most innovative and creative skills inherent in exceptional watches. All have followed a specific Jaeger-LeCoultre apprenticeship process that consists of working together on a daily basis to learn from the talents of others. It is indeed only through such close collaboration that creative boundaries can be consistently pushed back.

1. Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3

With its flying Gyrotourbillon and its spherical balance-spring, the Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 unveiled in 2013 is undoubtedly the watch sensation of the 21st century. The absence of an upper bridge reveals a miniature universe wherein the two carriages engage in a carefully synchronised rotation. Ultra-lightweight materials were used to achieve a micromechanical tour de force: despite having more than a hundred parts, the Gyrotourbillon weighs less than one gram. Associated with a 14-carat gold blued balance wheel, the movements of the balance-spring are surprisingly three-dimensional. This timepiece also achieves the feat of combining the supreme precision of the spherical tourbillon with the first instant digital display chronograph presented in a grand complication.

For the Hybris Artistica collection, this high performance timepiece takes on an even more masculine character thanks to its tantalum case. This little known metal that appeared in the early 20th century is extremely hard and resistant to corrosion, and particularly challenging to work. The watchmakers of the Manufacture had to rethink how to build the case, so that the shape would reflect the emotion generated by this hypnotic metal. Deep anthracite grey in colour, it seems animated, almost alive, because of its bluish lustre. The spirit of this timepiece is edgy and avant-garde, accentuated by the black dial for the hours and minutes, the anthracite dial of the chronograph counter, and the ruthenium-treated movement. The Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 decked out in tantalum is one of this century’s
most extraordinary watchmaking inventions.

2. Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste


The Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste offers up a stunning interpretation of time. To fully demonstrate the astronomical aspect, the orbital flying tourbillon does not indicate the passage of civil time, but instead sidereal time, which is nearly four minutes shorter in duration than solar time. Thus, the passage of Sirus – the reference star – at the zenith marks the celestial meridian. The orbital flying tourbillon moves to the rhythm of the stars and constellations, and rotates with the dial in a sidereal choreography. For the craftsmen of the Manufacture, the technical and aesthetic difficulties were compounded by an even more challenging ambition. How could they embody in a watch the sensation of gazing at the stars in the night sky? The starry sky stretches above in the shape of a hemispherical arch bounded by the horizon. Another challenge was to highlight the contrast between the intense black of night and the infinite brilliance of the constellations.

To solve this dilemma, the Manufacture called upon all the expert crafts and talents it possesses. The dial is made of royal blue aventurine, between indigo and stormy sky, which maintains the mystery. The area of the dial representing the months is guilloché and covered in translucent lacquer which recreates the effect of the depth of the cosmos. The hour-markers march around the inner bezel ring (or flange) to mark the rhythm of time. The flange itself is guilloché and filled with lacquer to blend in a vision of absolute harmony. Replacing the bezel, the domed crystal of the Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste is placed directly on the caseback, which provides a greater sense of openness and ensures perfect visibility of the orbital tourbillon. The breathtakingly intense Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Céleste brings the mystery of the skies within reach.

3. Master Gyrotourbillon 1

Hybris-Artistica-Master-Gyrotourbillon1_5The Gyrotourbillon 1, a world premiere in 2004, returns to the roots of the watchmaking complications embodied by Jaeger-LeCoultre for over 180 years. It features a unique construction with an ultra-lightweight outer carriage which rotates on its axis every 60 seconds and an inner carriage housing a balance wheel, balance-spring and escapement rotating around an axis that forms a right angle relative to the first carriage. The balance wheel moves weightlessly in this incredibly lightweight microcosm. The upper part of the Master Gyrotourbillon 1 dial features the fixed wheel of the running equation of time and reveals a unique semi-circular date display where two retrograde hands share the task. On the back of the watch, a sapphire crystal reveals the retrograde leap-year indication. Everything was designed with perfection in mind for this grand complication model, the only one with a power reserve of eight days. The dial is a miraculous achievement made from a completely skeletonised aventurine plate, retaining in the end only openwork stone encrusted with sparkling flecks.

Traditionally reserved for the movement, a skeletonised dial is rare. Featuring carved rosettes forming an enigmatic and sublimely beautiful stained-glass window, decorated with hourmarkers in blue lacquer, the dial is touched by grace, in perfect harmony with this exceptional watch. The artisans of Jaeger-LeCoultre worked with unwavering tenacity in order to craft the dial from this extremely hard and brittle stone that shatters at the slightest impact. They brought the same patient determination to bear on the thick domed sapphire crystal, polished on the inside, which, in the absence of a bezel, is attached directly to the case in a true work of art. The Master Gyrotourbillon 1 bears the mark of intelligence and powerful creativity. It also calls upon the emotions. Thus, a sapphire crystal tab extending into the case at 6 o’clock draws the gaze to the Gyrotourbillon like never before, piercing the mysteries and savouring the wonderment in a truly stunning communion.

4. Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie


Unveiled in 2009, the Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie is simply the most complicated watch in the world. It strikes the hours en passant with a complete Westminster carillon that chimes the longest rendition of the Big Ben melody ever played by a striking watch. The engineers totally redesigned the basic principles of the mechanism, using avant-garde technologies to deliver a bright chime rich in tones and harmonies, a regular rhythm, but also an easy to use a Grande Sonnerie model that prevents errors in manipulation and features incomparable strength. While the Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie already represents an extraordinary feat in itself, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmakers decided to add two other complications: a flying tourbillon and a perpetual calendar with retrograde hands. It is programmed to require no adjustment until the year 2100.

The art of the Hybris Artistica version consists in showcasing the outstanding features of this timepiece that incorporates the most sophisticated complications in inventive new forms. To do this, the Manufacture designed a dial made of rock crystal that reveals the horological movement from the back of this watch that is protected by ten patents. Also known as “solidified light” of celestial origin, rock crystal has given rise to many myths and beliefs on several continents and in different cultures. This legendary material possesses a breathtakingly pure and organic beauty. It can be veined, but it is an absolutely transparent variety that was selected for the dial of the Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie. Its structure, which is not amorphous like that of glass, interacts with the light to give a unique and intangible colour to a solid matter. This sculptural watch propels the wearer into a world of horological erudition almost literally pulsating with energy.

5. Duomètre Sphérotourbillon


Endlessly inventive, the watchmakers of the Manufacture came up with a stunning movement design paving the way for unprecedented functions. The Dual Wing is a revolutionary concept that features two standalone movements, each with its own energy source and sharing a common regulating organ. The major feature of this Duomètre is its Sphérotourbillon, in which an additional axis of rotation provides a three-dimensional rotation. In addition to revolving around the axis in its titanium cage, the tourbillon rotates around a second axis, tilted at 20°. The combination of these two distinct and rapid rotations enables the watch to defy the effects of gravity in all positions. Beyond its faultless accuracy, this exceptional piece is proud to be the first tourbillon watch adjustable to the very second. A button at 2 o’clock resets the small seconds counter located under the tourbillon to zero using a flyback mechanism. In its Hybris Artistica version, the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon provides an enchanting view of the amazing mechanics of this timepiece. The Manufacture created a case composed of two sapphire crystal domes featuring lugs in 18-carat white gold. Making the timepiece waterresistant represented quite a feat. The nearly transparent case looks like a time capsule sealed to its precious horological message. It showcases the dial, chiselled using a hand engraving technique that consists of removing material – 18-carat white gold – with a special chisel using multidirectional strokes to obtain a stunning surface, both finely grained and glossy.

To accentuate the dramatic effect of the timepiece, a staircase is located in the opening that houses the tourbillon. With its finely chiselled steps, it frames and highlights the Sphérotourbillon whose transparent bridge is crafted from sapphire crystal. It seems to evolve unhindered in a limpid décor filled with its choreographed revolutions. The elegant dials of the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon are crafted from white Grand Feu enamel with numerals fired with the enamel in a traditional technique followed to the letter. Its aristocratic bearing and precious mechanismmake the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon a top-tier fine watchmaking timepiece.

6. Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel


The Dual Wing concept is reflected by the presence of two distinct areas on the dial: on the left, the opening revealing the secrets of the Sphérotourbillon, and on the right, the main dial indicating the local time. An additional 24-hour dial occupying the upper part of the watch displays the time in a second time zone. The small seconds counter is located in the lower part of the dial. In this Hybris Artistica version, the dial is made of blue paillonné enamel that gives the watch face a dreamlike quality. The enamelling workshop of the Manufacture has a perfect mastery of this technique which requires a delicate touch and intense concentration. The artisan shaves tiny motifs or chips from a block of silver, called paillons. These tiny chips are volatile and can easily scatter. Only with the expertise accumulated over time can the artisan distribute them harmoniously on the enamel. After the dial comes out of the kiln, with the inherent risks of firing at 800°, the artisan begins the difficult task of polishing the enamel. This involves revealing the metal elements flush with the dial without scratching the surface with specks of dust from the precious metal. In the end, the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon Enamel is adorned with a sleek midnight blue robe strewn with stardust. Echoing this magical dial, the bezel is decorated with a border of enamel in an elegant reiteration of the overall harmony. The side of the case is engraved with a design inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice. For this purpose, openings are pierced all around the case, then filled with enamel and polished to reveal the beauty of the design. Perfection has its challenges, and Jaeger-LeCoultre meets them unflinchingly. Thus, the movement itself had to be redesigned and reworked. Steps were added – in gold so they could be enamelled – to remain in harmony with the rest of the dial. This staircase forms a spectacular amphitheatre that showcases the exuberant actor of this timepiece, the multi-axis tourbillon with a transparent sapphire bridge.