Master Reserve De Marché

Posted by Aran on March 02, 1998 at 3:58:51:

Review of Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reserve De Marché

Stainless Steel Ostrich Strap with Folding Buckle

Model 140.840.932B (A) Watch Number 0198

The Story:

I finally purchased a JLC from Richard Paige (with the help of Leslie) of Paris 1925 a couple of weeks ago. I had been considering the purchase a JLC watch for the past 3 years. A few years ago the JLC traveling show on the history of JLC and the Reverso was at my local northern Virginia watch store (Washington, D.C. metropolitan area). I think that attending that show inspired me to own a JLC watch – score one for the marketing department! I also ordered the JLC catalog, which is just exquisite (it has better color plate pictures and descriptions of the JLC movements than my USD $80 watch books).

Next, I needed to decide on the type of JLC watch I wanted. I had to decide between two very different watches, the Master Control series and the Reverso. The Reverso is a classic, but it seemed very small on my wrist (even the large case model). I really love the Duo and that kept the Reverso line in the competition. I also prefer automatic mechanical watches (with the exception of watches that have an exhibition back which manuals win hands down). After leaning towards the Master Control series I needed to determine which of the many models to choose from. I knew that I preferred stainless steel for cost reasons (I was trying to stick close to USD $3,000 in my final purchase price) and I liked the appearance of the Grand Taille, Master Date, Master Classic, Ultra Thin (manual movement), Reveil, and Reserve De Marche. The Master Geographic in steel was really out of my price range.

Next, I needed to lower my list of contenders. After more thought I decided that if I was to purchase a JLC that I wanted at least a basic complication (is that a contradiction in terms?). This led me to a decision between the Reveil and the Reserve De Marche. I decided in the end to go for the smaller case size and power reserve of the RDM and to purchase a vintage Memovox for an alarm feature.

The Case

Stainless steel with a smooth bezel. The crown (not screw down) has the JLC logo and there is a push piece for adjusting the date at 2 o’clock. The crystal is a slightly domed sapphire. The case back has the gold Master Control seal with watch model and serial number. I was surprised that my watch was only number 0198. The case back is attached to the case with four screws. The overall appearance is very harmonious with the elegant lugs and the curve case.

The Face

Silver colored face with small tritium dots at the hour markers. There are black linear minute markers. The hour markers are triangular pitched steel. The hour markers at 12 and 9 are applied Arabic numbers in steel. On the top of the face between 11 and 1 reads “Jeager-LeCoultre Automatic” in black text. At 2 o’clock is a recessed date window with odd numbers and dots for even days. The small seconds hand is at 6 o’clock with an “x-y” axis in the recessed circle. Power reserve indication is a 10 o’clock with 5 hour markers and text every 10 hours. At the bottom of the watch in small text is the familiar “T Swiss Made T”.

The hands: Dauphine pitched silver hour and minute hands with small rectangular tritium fill. Short alpha blued date pointer hand. Long alpha blued power reserve indicator. Baton blue (rectiline) small seconds hand.

The Strap

After deciding on the model and case material, I needed to determine what to do about the strap or bracelet. I decided that I don’t really like to shiny look of the steel JLC bracelets so it would be a leather strap. JLC makes the choice of strap very difficult by offering a wide range of choices. In ostrich there is black, tan, and gray and in crocodile there is black and brown (among many other colors). I particularly like the feature on the leather straps of the curved stitching by the watchcase and the use of curved pins between the lugs to curve with the case of the watch. For a long time I was leaning towards the black crocodile, but in the end I went (totally against my previous preference of black straps with stainless steel) for the tan ostrich. I am really glad that I made this choice, it adds another level of understated elegance to the watch. I also decided on the folding buckle with the JLC logo, I have only tried folding buckles on in stores, so I decided I needed to add one to my collection with this purchase. I was surprised at the large size of the strap. My visits to Europe confirm that I am much larger (lifting weights and American diet I guess) than my friends in Western Europe and Asia. I would advise men with smaller wrists to try on the watch to make sure that the strap is not too large for them even on its tightest position. That strap size seemed a little strange to me with the large European and Asian market for Swiss watches. Is it possible that JLC supplies a larger strap size for the U.S. market?

The Movement

Calibre 928 Date of development: 1993 Mechanical automatic movement with small seconds, date and power-reserve indication. 28,000 bph, 45 jewels, 256 parts, and 4.85 mm high (note that the 889/2 has 202 parts and is 3.25 mm high) Approximately 38 hour (conservative estimate) power reserve. Hack feature. 21-Carat gold winding rotor which winds the watch to its maximum power reserve in under an hour of wear with very light to moderate activity.

The Performance

I have not had the watch for a long enough period to comment on its accuracy. As far as I can tell it is within a few seconds a day so far. After I have broken in the watch for a few months I will be more concerned about the accuracy and have adjustments made if required. The public relations: Here is JLC’s promotional material on the 1000 hour Master Control series: From JLC’s The Manufacturer’s Book of Timepieces: “Jaeger-LeCoultre’s purpose in creating the Master Control is to set a new standard in reliability. Each watch is therefore subjected to a rigorous testing program. The heart and nerves of each completed timepiece are put under a series of tests for exactly 1000 hours – six weeks – before the watch is passed as a Master Control. Unlike the official chronometer test, the 1000-hour program, includes testing of the cased-up watch, complete with hands and dial. In addition to the 6 position performance trials under different temperatures, the reliability of the Master Control watch is assessed in constant motion, motionless, under calculated shocks, pressures of five atmospheres (50 meters), and in magnetic fields. The testing procedure is designed to reveal any potential weak spot in a watch during the crucial first 1000 hours of its life. Once it passes, the Master Control is expected to keep reliable time for two generations or more. At the end of its trial, each successful watch is signed and dated on the inside by the Master-Watchmaker responsible. And it earns a numbered gold seal on the case-back, which certifies that it is a thoroughly test wrist-watch – a timepiece you can depend on.”

The Packaging

Outer Box is semi gloss white cardboard with black “Jeager-LeCoultre” on top of box in the right front corner and the watch reference number and serial number with UPC code on the bottom front left corner. Lifting off the top of the box reveals a box with your watch’s serial number written in green ink containing product literature. Contained in this top box is the Guarantee Certificate, Guarantee Booklet (with detailed explanation of the guarantee), and the Master Control User’s Manual (with information on ALL the Master Control series of watches, including the Grand Taille, Classic, Lady, Ultra Thin, Reveil, Memovox, Perpetual, Date, Moon, Chronoghraph, Reserve De Marche, and Geographic). The literature is furnished in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese. Next comes the watch storage box. This is also a white “leather-like” vinyl with the JLC logo on top in the front right corner. Opening the lid of the storage box reveals the watch in a standard presentation around a pillow cushion. The watch is in a sealed plastic bag. Inside the plastic bag, the watchcase is wrapped in and additional plastic seal. There is also the standard plastic covering (this is clear) on the back of the watchcase. On the under side of the pillow is the stylus provided for changing the date via the push piece at 2 o’clock. Under the storage box is a self-addressed envelope and survey card to extend the warranty from 1 to 2 years. The warranty: 1 year manufacturer’s with an additional 1 year (in the United States) if you fill out a customer survey and send it to Winchester VA for a total of 2 years.

Over All Observations

So far I am very pleased with this purchase and have not had any buyer’s remorse over dropping a few grand on a timepiece. The combined look of the watch is spectacular and my wife even likes the watch. My complaints are the use of the stylus to adjust the date (I would prefer to be able to do this with the crown). I also wish that the watch had a hinged caseback with an exhibition back like that of the Geographic (gold and platinum models only). I am somewhat disappointed to report that on my recent browsing trip to my favorite local watch dealers with my JLC Reserve De Marche on my wrist my treatment was much better than when I have been wearing one of my “mid-range” watches. I was shown the Pateks and VCs in gold with exhibition backs without even asking (hmmmm?) while wearing old jeans and a sweatshirt. I never got treatment like that in my best suits (go figure).

By the way, I want to thank PARIS 1925 – they were able to get the watch I wanted to my door in only 7 days (and they didn’t even have the stock in hand when I placed my order)!