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Hands-On The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Enamel, Master Ultra Thin Moonphase Enamel, and Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Enamel​ Limited Editions

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You may recall that back in December we introduced Jaeger-LeCoultre's Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel, a limited-edition white gold dress watch that came with a beautiful blue guilloché enamel dial and a souped-up version of the already extant caliber 925 that saw an increase from about 40 hours of power reserve to 70 hours. Now that we're at SIHH, a larger picture is becoming clear, and we see that that release is actually a part of a trilogy that highlights hits from the Master Ultra Thin series by casing each in white gold and using a blue enamel guilloché dial. Each also features a movement that has improvements over what currently exists in the Master Ultra Thin range. Taken together with the latest Gyrotourbillon that also dropped this week, these three complicated Master Ultra Thins serve as nice reminders that there isn't really anything beyond JLC's watchmaking chops, and that they're called the Grande Maison for good reason. And JLC isn't new to the game with these kinds of watches. They were doing it way back when plenty of big names in horology were outsourcing their complications.

Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Enamel

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The Master Ultra Thin Tourbillon Enamel is a limited edition of 50 watches with indications for the time and date. The movement in this watch is the Caliber 978, which has been reconceived technically and aesthetically. The back of the new caliber 978F movement has a new sunray finishing effect emanating from the area of the tourbillon cage that makes for what I would argue is more aesthetically interesting caliber than the standard caliber 978. At 48 hours, it also has 10 more hours of power reserve than the standard 978's 38. Ten hours may not seem like a huge difference, but the increase accounts for a more than 25-percent longer power reserve. This watch measures 40mm x 12.13mm thick, not quite as thin as some of the other tourbillons we have seen hit the market in recent years, but definitely within the range of what I would consider "thin" for a full-rotor automatic tourbillon with an artisan guilloche enamel dial with plenty of depth and texture. I love how the numbers on the date subidal here rise up in relief against a frosted finish. The dauphin hands and applied numerals, likewise, look nice and sharp.

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As you can see in the caseback photo above, it comes with a nicely decorated movement, and the gold rotor's cutouts let you admire the movement all the more. 

Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel

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Next we have the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel. This watch is powered by an updated version of the JLC 868 movement, the JLC 868A/2. If you compare this watch to the previous generation of the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual, which comes with the 868/1 movement, you can see that most of the indications appear to have rotated 180 degrees. The moon phase is now at the bottom of the dial, and a hand has been added to the moon phase so that the position of the moon can be read in either hemisphere. Moreover, the year is now read via two windows inside a sub-dial that shows the months. The older edition indicated the years in a single window between seven and eight o'clock. I think that while both look great, the newer version wins points for being more symmetrical. Like the older version, this new one comes in a comfortable 39mm case, though the thickness has increased  slightly from 9.2mm to 10.44mm. Of course, the new watch benefits from a more complex enamel dial, and I think the minor increase is acceptable given what you get in terms of the beauty of the dial. The watch also sees a near doubling of the power reserve from about 38 hours to 70 hours. The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel is limited to 100 pieces.

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The new Master Ultra Thin Perpetual released at SIHH 2019.

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The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual with black dial, which was released at  SIHH 2016.

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Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel

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And finally, we've got the Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel. Like the other two watches in this series of limited enamel-dialed watches in the Master line, it has a case in white gold and a dial in guilloché enamel. As I mentioned earlier, this model comes with a rejiggered in-house caliber 925, the 925/2, with a longer power reserve despite running on a single barrel and maintaining a standard frequency of 28,800 vph. This means that you could in theory make this your daily wearer during the work week, switch to something a bit sportier on the weekend, and come back to a watch that would be ready to go and not require any resetting of the time, the date, or the moon phase on Monday morning. 

This limited edition of 100 pieces measures 39mm in diameter and just a hair over a centimeter thick, at 10.04mm. Like the tourbillon and the perpetual, it comes on a blue alligator strap. 

The moon phase version is priced at $35,800, the perpetual is $55,000, and the tourbillon is $88,500. 

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