This is a watch that demonstrates the depth of Jaeger-LeCoultre, whose range includes superb classical models, dress watches, jewellery watches, sports watches, and super-technical pieces such as this. The Master Compressor Extreme LAB 2 was originally launched in 2010, and this year a new version has been presented, with blue highlights instead of red, a ceramic bezel that is smooth instead of ridged, and a double pin buckle that makes adjustment more precise.
Dial and functions
There is a lot going on on the dial of this watch, with skeletonized bridges and numbers galore against the black PVD bridges and baseplate. The black date numbers can be seen around the dial with just one resolving into legibility in the date window at 3 o’clock, and this gives it something of the look of a Richard Mille watch.
The most obvious and unusual feature is the digital chronograph minutes counter at 12 o’clock, with discs that jump at the top of every minute and reaching 59 minutes before starting over at 00. This is fun, but above all it is far more legible than a chrono minutes subdial. No more excuses for getting those boiled eggs wrong! Chronograph seconds are shown by the large blue central seconds hand, to an accuracy of one eighth of a second. Chronograph hours are shown on the external ring of the subdial at 9 o’clock, with a blue hand. The small white hand on the inner grey part of this subdial is for continuous seconds. Because the hour totalizer counts 24 hours, the chronograph could be used to keep track of time in another time zone – in addition to the second time zone already provided on the subdial at 6 o’clock, adjusted from the crown. A lot of thought has been dedicated to the chronograph pushers, operated by two L-shaped levers that provide a greater contact area, with usability improved by a grooved rubber surface.
To make setting the watch and its various functions easier, there is a function selector operated by a pusher on the crown. From the Neutral position, indicated by a blue N on the indicator next to the date window, one press selects GMT to adjust the second time zone, another press takes you to SET to set the time functions, and another press returns you to neutral. You don’t have to pull out the crown to adjust the watch. When you are setting the time, the seconds hand continues running. But the watch can be synchronized to the nearest second by means of a stop seconds device, operated by a slider on the left hand side of the case. By pressing and sliding, you stop the seconds hand, and it starts again when the slide is released.
Attractive power reserve indicator
The power reserve indicator is a lovely feature, with a white circle at the edge of the dial gradually turning blue as the power reserve decreases from its maximum of 60 hours. The watch is powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 780, with 569 components, running at 28,800 vph (hence 8 vibrations per second). The automatic rotor is mounted on ceramic ball bearings that require no lubricant.
All this is housed in a case 46.8 mm in diameter and 16.5 mm thick, in the Jaeger-LeCoultre exclusive TiVan15, a lightweight titanium alloy, with black ceramic bezel and crown. The case itself is a complex machine, consisting of 143 parts, with an external chassis for strap attachment, providing a base for the inner case that holds the movement. Hands and hour markers are coated in luminescent material. The strap also has a high-tech mechanism, with a lever-operated system that enables you to rapidly change strap by yourself. The double pin buckle has a double-notch fine adjustment to provide the perfect fit.
Reference and price
The references are Q203T540, the version shown here in TiVan15 and black ceramic, Q2032540 in 18-carat pink gold, and Q203T541, a new model in TiVan15 and pink gold. Prices start at around €47,300.