I have never been invited to celebrate someone’s 185th birthday, well until… last month. The invitation mentioned I should pack warm clothes and be in the mood to taste real luxury. “Mmmm ok”, for starters it’s true I’m not a winter person, but for some luxury taste, I think I can manage.
Next stop was Switzerland, where I was a special and rare guest to one of the biggest leading companies of Swiss watch-making, Jaeger-
JLC, is to me the Haute Couture of the watch industry, founded in 1833 as ‘LeCoultre’ in the mountains of Vallée de Joux in Switzerland (a valley located 50 km from Geneva) by Antoine LeCoultre, who gathered his inventive and technical spirit as well as his artistic passion for a multilateral watch-making sensation.
In 1866, the small watch-making workshop became a factory and, in 1937, the Parisian watchmaker LeCoultre merged with Jaeger, and so a new story of magical high-quality timepieces in the watch-making universe, began.
I woke up to a beautiful and snowy morning and made my way to the JLC manufacturer from Genena. It was an hour drive to our destination and as we were driving from a busy city life to a secret, tiny and peaceful village with a beautiful view of pine trees covered with snow, for a second it felt like we were going back in time to a different era. This path eventually led us to a journey through the art and magic of one of a kind clocks and watches.
After we arrived at the JLC manufacture, we were welcomed into a beautiful and cozy lounge room (I could say reception, but believe me it was everything but a reception) and then went through a wide corridor, where everyone was wearing a white lab coat and greeted each one of us with a: “Bonjour!” in a happy and relaxed tone.
I knew from the moment I got there that this visit would turn out to be one of the best watch experiences of my life. There was something in the air, like a special energy that indicated it was the sanctum of horology.
We headed upstairs to a very special private room, with a breathtaking view of the snowy Jura Mountains. We sat down to enjoy a royal brunch and explore the room, which felt like an alternative and accessible museum of JLC.
Inside the large manufacturer, that has grown over time since its original single workshop, I discovered the unbelievable truth; not only that some of the watches by JLC contain almost 1,000 components, but also, everything is produced in-house (The only brand that still does this nowadays), even the tiniest pieces that can only be seen under a microscope. They have special machines and artists that are in charge of creating their own treasures.
Just to give you all an idea of how Haute Couture this place really was; only the watch design process can take between 3 weeks to a month to be completed. So yes, it really is an art piece in its own way, where at the end of the watch-making process the artists give life to their creation and wish it ‘Bon Voyage!’ Believing that a watch that converses with time will last and have a wonderful life.
Being a witness to the kind of level of proficiency, creativity, and perseverance the JLC artists work with, I can now totally understand how people are tempted to invest so much in these one-of-a-kind creations (which, honestly, I didn’t understand before).
Later during our visit, we headed to where some real magic happens, the Atmos clock laboratory.
The Atmos is one of JLC most iconic clock, invented in 1928, and known as a horological legend, as it has no external power source, and never needs to be wound by hand or powered by a suspended weight. It ‘simply’ gets its power from minute changes in atmospheric temperature (hence the name).
After checking the walls that were covered with limited edition Atmos clocks at the historical atelier, we climbed to the top floor where the Grand Complications department was located. There, we had the chance to examine some of the rarest and most special watches in person, and we even got the chance to build and design a watch by ourselves!
Our tour eventually came to an end, however, I had the pleasure to shoot in Paris the next day with the JLC team!
It was seriously one of the most unique and magical experiences of my life and I will forever be honored to have had the chance to be one of JLC’s guests. Special ‘Merci!’ to Padani (a store in Israel where you can find JLC watches) and to all my new friends at JLC for making me feel part of your unique family.