Jaeger-LeCoultre will probably launch a new version of its Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 this autumn
Before I can hopefully offer you the first exclusive insights of the new sports chronograph let me again highlight the actual version launched in 2010.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 unites sporting spirit with technical prowess for a resolutely extreme design, with a maximum of comfort and ergonomics and the right technology to keep the highest possible precision and reliability. Several new ideas and inventions make the watch the primary choice for when the going gets tough: An easy to use function selector regulated through the crown, a patented digital patented jumping digital minutes counter for easy readability and a clearly visible power reserve and a GMT-function make this chronograph a step forward in the development of horology for real life usage – anywhere.
All this is housed within a rugged watchcase with external chassis made of the light and extremely resistant TiVan15 titanium alloy and outfitted with a scratchproof high tech zirconium ceramic bezel. Specially designed, easy to use push buttons guarantee failure free use even when wearing gloves and an innovative interchangeable strap system with double pin buckle makes changing straps fast, easy and safe.
To test the ambitious project, Jaeger-LeCoultre had sent the Master Compressor Extreme LAB2 Tribute to Geophysic out into the wild with a mountaineering expedition called “Expedition Geophysic” to conquer a virgin peak in the Himalayas, which has been christened the Mount Antoine LeCoultre.
The historical background: Chronomètre Geophysic
With the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic, Jaeger-LeCoultre not only showed its mastery in the creation of sporting watches for extreme conditions, the manufactory also paid tribute to its own heritage and took a big step in the quest for the perfect rugged timepiece suitable for exploration.
When in 1958 Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Chronomètre Geophysic, the mother of all rugged sports watches from the Grande Maison, the quest was opened on how to design a watch that would suit the demands of scientists and engineers, who long for a timepiece with outstanding precision and performance even in the worst surroundings. Jaeger-LeCoultre answered with the creation of the Chronomètre Geophysic, a water-resistant wristwatch that withstood magnetic fields as well as an outstanding shock resistance system.
The actual watch launched in 2010
The Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic with its second zone time indication has to be a trustworthy companion during months out in the field with no chances taken that could adversely affect its timekeeping. For this reason, the watchmakers of the manufacture have come up with some features that simplify its handling whilst at the same time guaranteeing utmost precision. In order to keep the movement running, even when time or date has to be set, they developed a function selector in combination with an extra, manually engaged, stop seconds button.
The Function Selector
The function selector – activated by a pusher in the crown and indicated on the dial – essentially functions like a manual gear box in a car and presents three functions: watch winding in the first position, adjustment of the GMT-function and the date after pushing once, and time setting after a second push. Giving a third push makes the system return to its first position in which the crown is decoupled from the gear train of the watch and only allows winding the watch. This system makes pulling the crown superfluous and therefore protects the watch from possible intrusions of dust and dirt for the crown stays in the same position at all times. Because of this construction, it was technically impossible – and unnecessary – to secure the crown with a Compressor-screw. Instead it is protected by the two chronograph pushers at the sides and sealed with a double gasket system.
The second’s stop
While the time is being set via the function selector, the second’s hand doesn’t stop so that it cannot affect the precision of the watch. If however the watch has to be set to a timing signal, the user simply operates the slider located on the left side of the case. By sliding it up and then pressing it, the second’s hand stops and upon releasing starts again. This double sliding-pushing- function prevents the slider from being activated accidentally.
The power reserve
The functions of any wristwatch rely of course on the power supplied to the movement. The winding barrel of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic provides 60 hours of constant energy to drive the watch movement. Nevertheless, for perfect reliability the user must be able to quickly view the state of the power reserve level so that the watch’s timing will not be negatively affected.
The state of the power reserve can be observed through a newly patented, intuitive and clearly visible semicircular radial power reserve indication surrounding the upper half of the dial. If the power reserve nears its end, the red color will fill the half circle. After winding, it re-initiates to black – clearly indicating the state of the winding barrel. The designers chose this unique and large display to allow for one glance monitoring of the state of the movement even under inclement weather conditions or use in twilight.
The Digital Stop Minute Counter
In long-term timekeeping during endurance activities – such as mountaineers timing their ascending-plan – the stop-minutes counter is at least as important as the stop seconds hand. For better readability at a glance, the designers decided on the following layout of the dial: At 12 o’clock a window shows a patented jumping digital minute counter for clear readability of the chronograph function. It works on the basis of an instant jumping mechanism that is activated precisely at the point the seconds hand passes the zero-mark. The central stop-seconds hand shows the seconds passing in a traditional way. Whereas the chronograph’s hour counter runs in the same sub dial as does the small permanent seconds – as indicator for a properly working movement.
Sturdy design for easy and reliable usage
The Master Compressor Extreme LAB2 Tribute to Geophysic is a chronograph combining sporting spirit and technical prowess into a resolutely extreme design, with a maximum of comfort, readability and ergonomics. High tech materials and daring shapes combined with the sandwich structure of the case, transforming the watch into a state-of-the-art timing instrument.
The black zirconium ceramic bezel together with the sapphire glass forms an almost indestructible upper section. For the casing the designers came up with a bipartite carrier- construction for the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic in which an outer carrier holds the bracelet and simultaneously forms the frame for the inner watchcase that houses the movement itself. This system delivers a maximum of sturdiness combined with a minimum of weight; which is especially true since the watchmakers chose an exceptional titanium alloy called TiVan15 as the case material. In this alloy made of titanium and Vanadium extraordinary physical resistance to tension, torsion and scratches is improved by 15% compared to traditional titanium alloy. The case-construction itself exudes a sporty no-nonsense look befitting its use under all kinds of tough environments.
This casing solution – inspired by the Master Compressor Extreme LAB – delivers maximum ergonomics. An innovative pushbutton construction makes sure that the watch can be easily handled in any situation. For this reason, the pushbuttons themselves are protected by large L- shaped metal arms, which are fixed at one point in the case close to the crown, thus forming a large contact surface for better ergonomics and simultaneously providing superior protection for the crown with its built in function pusher. The front areas of the pushers are covered with rubber pads to ensure slip-free usage in any weather condition – even with thick mountaineering-gloves on.The open worked dial allows one to admire a clear view of the movement’s structure through the sapphire crystal, while the movement part’s black PVD-coating provides a high contrast with the luminous indexes and newly designed skeleton hands for a maximum of readability in any situation.
The newly developed Calibre 780 reflects the mastery of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmaking in full bloom. Even with the complexity of 569 parts, it remains a precise and reliable movement with chronograph and GMT functions in which the latest of the manufacture’s developments have been incorporated. With its range of application in mind, sports and exploration, the watch is built to resist extreme conditions – from the boiling heat of hot deserts to icy storms on high mountains – thereby delivering the highest possible levels of precision and reliability. For the watchmakers at Jaeger-LeCoultre such a development does mean more than just big casing and thick sapphire glass: The experts decided on creating a check list on how to tackle the issue of ruggedness from the very interior of the movement.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 780 is a chronograph with its function regulated by a column wheel, where precise start- and stop functions are guaranteed through a vertical clutch system. As it is specially designed for long-term measurement of events (such as timing of mountaineering ascents), the watchmakers and designers decided upon a digital minute counter which they placed in a clearly visible 12-o’clock-position on the dial as mentioned above.
Second Zone Time Indication
For an explorer’s watch, a second zone time is a must – and as such a main feature of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic. As a tradition for Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, the second zone time – the home time – is indicated by a second hour hand from the center, with a 24-hour indication at the 6 o’clock position. It can be adjusted through the crown after pushing the function selector twice and then turning the crown to set the hour hand.
The large balance wheel has a moment of inertia of 11.5 mg cm2, enough for it to beat at a steady 28,800 A/h with only minor disturbances in case of shocks. It is equipped with variable inertia screws. No index is used to adjust the beat-rate, for it could slip from position after a shock. The stud holder is held by two screws, which – once set – are fixed under all circumstances. The hairspring itself has a special protection device that limits the motion of the spring during periods of extreme situations, such as shocks. The balance bridge is fixed on two support points for extra strength.
As for its performance, the automatic rotor, mounted on lubrication free ceramic ball bearings, winds the barrel of the watch unidirectional to a maximum of 60 hours of power reserve. All components of the movement are highly decorated or PVD finished and of course, the watch has endured Jaeger-LeCoultre’s demanding 1000 hours test to certify its reliance under all conditions.
Lifting a small covering on the case back behind the strap operates a newly designed interchangeable strap system. Through sliding it open the straps can easily be changed. The double alligator strap stand for the highest possible reliability and a patented notched binding system allows perfect ergonomics. The double pin buckle enables the wearer to fine-tune the strap length even in the distance between two holes.
A more elegant version of the Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 Tribute to Geophysic
The Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre launched also a second exclusive model which distinguishes itself from the first one on the outside. It has an 18-carat pink gold chassis to hold the TiVan15 watchcase, which makes it the more glamorous of the two watches – but heavier as well. This watch case – due to its use of precious metals – provides a different surrounding for the high tech movement and the red gold chassis clearly indicates that the watch is dedicated to a more modest usage in less harsh conditions.