008 Jaeger le Coultre 18k Futurematic

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Probably the most complex simple timepiece ever made, the Futurematic was, in horological terms, the answer to the question no one ever asked.

It uses a unique cal 497 movement which has a number of features seen nowhere else; it has no winding crown and no facility for hand winding the movement. Unlike all other automatic watches it does not use a slipping clutch on the mainspring to prevent over winding, rather when the mainspring reaches 95% torque, a mechanical lever locks the winding rotor in place to prevent any more winding. When the mainspring is almost wound down another lever prevents the mainspring from releasing any more power, this lever automatically disengages as soon as the watch is moved and it then recommences running, leaving the owner to reset the time using the rear hand set button. It was, to the best of my knowledge, the first civilian watch to have a hack set feature. The watch is also the only other automatic (other than the Harwood) to have the winding weight suspended both above and below the movement.

The stunning silvered dial has applied red gold even Arabic numerals and applied red gold “arrowhead” markers for the odd numbers (the quarter hour markers being much smaller than the rest). The hands are polished red gold “leaf” design, as are the two subsidiary hands for the subsidiary seconds and the up/down indicator.

The “Futurematic” was introduced in 1953 when most of Europe was rebuilding after WWII and there was almost no market for expensive watches, so almost all of these were shipped to the US as bare movements and then cased there, mostly in GF cases, and all labelled as “Le Coultre”. This makes this watch especially rare as it is a Jaeger Le Coultre (meaning it was originally sold in Europe) and it is made from 18k gold. If truth be told, the quality of both case & dial construction on the European watches is MUCH higher than the US Le Coultre ones, comparing this watch to a normal US cased GF one is like comparing chalk and cheese. Making this an even nicer package, the watch has a very rare French made case

After WWII, Governments in France lasted for very short periods and the populace grew to distrust them; one method by which they showed their distrust was to have little respect for the currency and to put their faith in gold. The governments, in turn, showed their distrust of the populace by forbidding them to own gold unless it was bought directly from the state; and they emphasized their control by forbidding the import of ANY finished articles in gold. This included watch cases and many examples of Rolex, Jaeger and Patek watches can be found with unsigned cases bearing French hallmarks from this period.

But this one is not unsigned, on the case back, it is signed ‘Clerc, Paris’; they were one of the most fashionable and high profile jewelers in Paris, and operated from before the start of the 20th century before being sold in 1989. The quality of the case is much higher than that of the contemporary Swiss ones, and (being French) much more stylish; the bezel is concave in design and the teardrop lugs are also concave and stepped.

The case is 95%, as is the movement, whilst the dial is 95+%.

The watch measures 36mm Diam, 44mm lug to lug, it is 11 mm high and takes a 17mm strap and a brown crocodile one is fitted.

£5,500.00 (approx. $6,600.00 US)

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Price: £5,500.00