What is a dress watch? For many, it requires a compact body and an enameled or engine-turned dial with classic hands. You know, the usual stuff. The 2014 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar Meteorite (refs. Q1558421 & Q1552540) features the classic dial layout spiced with a dial plate cut from a real meteorite. The material is not terribly rare: eBay is teeming with all sorts of celestial stones ready to mail. Yet, it usually takes a skilled artisan to cut the stone (or a slug) at a particular angle that allows it to truly shine. Jaeger-LeCoultre designed this gorgeous new model with nerds in mind. It targets high-school dropouts who made their fortune offering the world software or services that makes our life a lot easier.
This is not a completely new model. The watch is basically the well-known Master Calendar model with its original silvered and sunray-brushed dial replaced with a lot less common meteorite-sourced plate.
The new refs. Q1558421 & Q1552540 will be presented in flesh only in a month or so at the upcoming SIHH 2015 event and I wasn’t able to find information regarding the exact type of meteorite they used for this watch. However, the characteristic Widmanstätten pattern clearly visible on the plate suggest that this is some sort of a nickel-iron meteorite. For example, the last year’s Corum Admiral’s Cup Legend 42 Meteorite Dual Time model, which is equipped with a dial crafted from nickel-iron Gibeon meteorites, features a very similar pattern that nicely complements the overall styling of the device.
Offering two variations of the timepiece -one in rose gold (ref. Q1552540) and the other in stainless steel (ref. Q1558421)- Jaeger-LeCoultre targets two groups of people: those preferring highly contrast, flashy versions of classic designs and those leaning to less conspicuous, underrated watches respectively.
Timepieces that feature different sorts of monochromatic color schemes are often a bit hard to read, especially in the twilight. However, the legibility rating of this new watch doesn’t seem to suffer much from a lack of contrast. The first of all, the dauphine-shaped hour and minute hands are dark enough to stand clearly against the light grey texture of the dial crisscrossed with streaks of nickel and iron.
The second reason is, of course, the ultra-thin patches of Superluminova that allow the watch to be readable at night, but don’t detract from its classic, dressy appearance.
As you can see, the dial of the Master Calendar Meteorite features the usual layout with Day of Week and Month apertures placed at 12 o’clock, just below the famous logo. The date indicator is the usual central hand with a blue- or red-colored crescent, and the moon phase indicator shares its position at 6 o’clock with small seconds hand.
I usually find this approach to data representation extremely boring and deja vu-inspiring, but in this particular case, the design actually looks nice clearly underlining the timekeeper’s intended audience: it is designed for wealthy nerds, not for football stars.
The watch is reported to be powered by a new JLC Caliber 866 that was first announced only two years ago and eventually replaced the older JLC Caliber 924. Nicely decorated and featuring a rose gold insert in its oscillating weight, the mechanism is finely decorated, but is, well, not particularly interesting to admire, especially if your point of reference is a hand-crafted movement made by A. Lange & Sohne artisans.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar Meteorite specification
Price: €12,000 (MSRP, stainless steel, ref. Q1558421) / $23,500 USD (ref. Q1552540 in rose gold)
Movement: Automatic, JLC Caliber 866, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 32
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 43 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of the week, moon phase
Case: Stainless steel (ref. Q1558421) / Rose gold (ref. Q1552540)
Size: 39.00 mm
Case height: 10.60 mm
Hour markers: Applied
Hands: Dauphine-shaped, luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black or brown alligator leather strap with an 18-karat rose gold or stainless steel deployant clasp