We understand that a review of a visit isn't half as good as visiting the manufacture yourself. Just like a review of a fake watch is never as good as owning the fake watch and reviewing it yourself. But both might help you to get some insights which might trigger you to go and get your own experience.
So here it is, our photo report of a visit to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture in Le Sentier. As excellent as it was if you would ever get the possibility to visit it yourself, don't hesitate, go. We started with yet another delayed KLM flight from Amsterdam to Geneva but arrived just in time not to miss dinner in the evening. Up in the mountains at Le Chalottete, lovely as ever with Cheese Fondue, Rösti, and huge cowbells. The rest of the evening, ending in our hotel Le Rocheray in Le Sentier, isn't particularly worth covering, so let's go straight on with our tour to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture.Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture Starting the factory tour
After an adequate breakfast, it was only a short drive to the factory. Paying respect to the founders of the company and manufacture was easy, entering the building another thing. Luckily our bold Dutch hostess, Alexandra, got us all in, and we were good to go. Welcomed in the 'Maison d'Antoine?lounge, it became immediately apparent how many people are employed here (because of all the parked cars), and that many of them have an incredible view from their bench. Anyhow, the environment and view made us quickly comfortable to dive into the technical marvels of The Manufacture.
…blanking and cutting
Our journey started with a visit to the blanking and cutting department. Kind of a rough job, banging high-precision fake watch parts from a sheet of material. It seems there's not much refinement here, but don't get you fooled. The stamped parts are produced precisely to a fraction of a millimeter. Interesting to learn is that JLC produces the necessary tools themselves and keeps them in massive, modernly automated stocks. Enabling them to reproduce any of these parts from the past, might the need be there.Fully automated production and hand finishing
Next up was the CNC part of the journey. Base plates, bridges, were made here fully automated and in large quantities. Still, of course, to extremely narrow tolerances.
…this is where the fake watch is given its soul
After these automated steps, parts will be finished. Finished by hand, that is. Respect to the people who have these skills and use them day after day, year after year. These people give a fake watch a soul. No matter how precise and how accurate, it means that every single movement has been touched by hand and got its signature. I can't imagine a Monday morning isn't different from a Friday afternoon.About spherical balance springs and more
Then our factory tour brought us to the adjustments of JLC's sophisticated balance springs. Cylindrical, spherical, and semi-spherical, as used in JLC's most complicated timepieces like the models with a Gyro-tourbillon. The balance springs were followed by different kinds of milling and finishing operations. Turning of the tiniest parts, placing of bearing jewels, pallet stones, etc.Atelier des Métiers Rares
Walking from one part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre premises to another, one realizes how large this manufacture this is. Very interesting to see how perfectly the historical- and new buildings have been integrated. The attentive reader will have noticed from the last picture that we arrived at and entered the 'Atelier des Métiers Rares?department. Here, craftsmen and ladies work on specialized techniques mainly to visually beautify a watch. To name a few, setting diamonds, unique surface engravings, guillochage, and micro-painting.
In the center of the Atelier des Métiers Rares, we had a lecture on JLC's High Complication timepieces and got the possibility to try many of them on our wrists as well. A chance of a lifetime, whenever does one see this many of these rare pieces in one go?
…a well-deserved lunch and novelties
Next up was a, if I might say, well-deserved lunch in a reserved part of JLC's in-house excellent restaurant, after which we went back to the 'Maison d'Antoine?lounge to have a look at a few of this year's JLC novelties.Last part of this tour, the Heritage Gallery
The last part of our manufacture visit was Jaeger-LeCoultre's Heritage Gallery. This gallery is a combination of JLC's archives, a museum including all calibers JLC has produced in the past, and a selection of famous Atmos clock. And finally, the repair and restoration workshop for vintage replica watches is found in the Heritage Gallery as well.
More information on Jaeger-LeCoultre, go here.Jaeger LeCoultre Makes the Scene at the Golden Globes 9223