The slightly facelifted 2012 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control is (at least the version in a discreet -and also way more affordable- stainless steel body, ref. Q1548420) a nice entry-level model for those buying their first “Real Swiss Made” timekeeper.
Being just a minor facelift of the previous three-hander, the refreshed watch doesn’t bring in anything revolutionary besides some cosmetic changes here and there bringing the new model in line with the rest of the family that, too, was refreshed during the last couple of years. In terms of exterior, it still an elegant dress watch with a deliberately plain dial and featureless body. There are no diamonds on the face, no brake disk-styled bezels, and nothing more than the good old sunburst finish on the silver-toned dial. All in all, it is just another boring timekeeper designed for CFOs and other kinds of boring people.
The first thing that is immediately noticeable when comparing the upcoming and outgoing models is the slightly smaller body of the recent iteration. Being 39 millimeters in diameter and just 8.50 millimeters in height, the new body perfectly fits into the “golden standard” of a dressy watch. The only drawback here is the bezel: it now looks considerably thicker than that on the 2010 model that, to my taste, sported better proportions.
Currently, the watch is offered only in two versions that differ only with the material of their bodies and hands. The model ref. Q1542520 is presented in elegant rose gold and the ref. Q1548420 features a more sober body in satin-finished stainless steel.
The hours and minutes hands were, too, replaced with more elegant dauphine-shaped hands. The thin strips of Superluminova are now even thinner, but are still visible, as are the tiny luminous dots behind the applied hour markers and numerals.
I have heard numerous complaints of actual owners that the luminous patches served little purpose, because they simply failed to accumulate enough energy during the day to be clearly visible in darkness (and there is no total darkness in the city: there is always a source of dim light, which is brighter than the lume on the watch, so that your eye cannot adapt and you can’t tell what time it is now.)
The traditional blued seconds hand and the tiny date aperture are there, too, still on their rightful places. Ditto the three Arabic numerals and the applied hour markers that are perfectly readable on the sunburst background of the silver-toned dial.
Oh, and the ultra-thin JLC caliber 899 self-winding movement is also here. Comprising 219 flawlessly-finished components, the movement stores enough energy to keep the watch going for at least 43 hours (after being fully wound,) an adequate power reserve for a watch, which is supposed to be worn on a day to day basis.
The mechanism is nicely finished with circular Geneva stripes, gold inscriptions, and heat-blued screw-heads that one can admire through the sapphire case back cover. All in all, it is one of the best simple calibers that you can get in this price range.
Pricing is yet to be revealed*, but if the current model is any indication, there is a good chance that the version in steel will sell for some $7000 and the model in rose gold will retail for more impressive $16,000 or more.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 3/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICING: The version in 18-karat rose gold currently retails for $15,300 USD.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control specification
Price: $15,300 (MSRP, ref. Q1542520 in rose gold)
Movement: Automatic, JLC caliber 899, 219 parts, 3.30 mm x 26.00 mm, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 32
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: Circular Geneva Stripes, open-worked oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 43 hours
Case: Stainless steel (Q1548420) or 18-karat rose gold (Q1542520)
Size: 39.00 mm
Height: 8.50 mm
Dial: Silver-toned, sunburst finish
Hour markers: Applied
Hands: Dauphine-shaped, polished, rose gold or white gold
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Chocolate-toned alligator leather strap with 18-karat gold pin buckle OR black alligator leather strap with steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, domed, antireflective