Lionel Favre, Product Design Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre in a chat with Mitrajit Bhattacharya on the Maison’s partnership with a bootmaker, the latest avatar of Polaris and being a traditional fine watchmaker
It’s a great concept to bring the watchmaker in the centre of things. So how did it come about?
At Jaeger-LeCoultre, we consider that we are makers. Why makers? Because we like to create things with passion. Trying to achieve the best in terms of craftsmen. For example, when you discuss with an engineer at Jaeger-LeCoultre, you speak about precision, about the industrial process, also about the beauty of the final product. Like the beauty of the screw, its colour, the colour of the metal used, the curve of the movement. For people who want a perfect product, we have decided to develop some partnerships, and we have this year, for example, Fagliano, the famous bootmaker.
Exactly, he shares exactly the same value as we do. He uses the best leather. Takes time to do his leather and to make a fine product. So, we have decided to create a limited edition Reverso with a Fagliano strap, limited to 100 pieces. Designed by Fagliano but made in Switzerland, some straps for the Classic Reverso.
Coming back to your key launch of the year- the Polaris, tell us about the rationale behind getting the Polaris back.
We have decided to create a new sports pillar. It was interesting to design something totally new. It was interesting to have a look at our archives where we identified the Polaris from 1968. The design of 1968 because then, the dial had a very large index. It was really modern and one of the designers felt that it would be really interesting to build something around that.
What was the original size of the watch?
In 1968 it was quite huge. We have kept the spirit of this large size of the case; 41mm for the automatic, 42mm for the chronograph and 44mm for the world-time chronograph.
You have 5 references, could you please take us through?
We have one automatic without date, with two dial colours, blue and black. We have two chronographs, blue and black, 42mm in steel, and we have two chronographs world-time in titanium, in blue and black. So, we have the Memovox, with the Memovox function, and we have the date with the same look as the Memovox. This watch is more for those who like the vintage look. I think there was a feeling of liberation maybe in the original design. And we have tried to keep this spirit and that’s why this is a watch for a man of action. Men who like driving, who like skiing, and those who like to do various activities with the watch.
You haven’t really added stuff for the sake of adding. If you could just take us through the diving function, it’s about 200m, right?
Yes, the diving one and the date are water resistant to 200m, and the rest of the collection, its 100m.
Do you have any limitations on these products?
Yes, we have limited edition with the Polaris Memovox, it’s a limited edition of 1000 piece. Historically, it was a limited edition of 1790, the first series from 1968 was limited to 1790 pieces. 1790 pieces were produced, it was not really limited and now a lot of collectors want this original piece, but it’s a very expensive piece to acquire, because there weren’t too many.
Do share what else is happening at the Manufacture.
Our craftsmen/engineers are engaged in developing new high complications. We want to develop them for the Atmos clocks, our feminine and jewellery pieces. In terms of movements, if you speak with engineers, they have a lot of new processes, new metals, silicium etc. But from my point of view in terms of design, using carbon at Jaeger-LeCoultre is not relevant because we are not a brand that wants to show that we can have carbon, or cobalt, or something different. We are a brand with a strong history in fine watchmaking, very discreet and very harmonious. And this happens to be our territory. Our territory is not the extravagance of the material. In short, we are more traditional.