A rare and impressive rose gold limited-edition skeleton perpetual calendar wristwatch, produced by the famous Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, founded in 1833. Limited edition launched in 2008 to commemorate the brand’s 175th anniversary. Present example purchased in 2020. Case made of 18k rose gold, diameter 39.5mm, 12.8mm thick, open-worked dial, sapphire caseback. Caliber 876 SQ, hand-wound, skeletonized, double barrel, power reserve up to 8 days. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, perpetual calendar with indication of date at 3 o’clock, day of the week at 9 o’clock, month at 6 o’clock and two-digit year at 7 o’clock, power reserve indicator at 11 o’clock, day/night display at 1 o’clock and moonphase indicator at 9 o’clock. Brown Jaeger-LeCoultre leather strap with 18k rose gold Jaeger-LeCoultre triple folding clasp. Limited edition of 175 pieces. 

Lot essay 

In the early 2000s, Jaeger-LeCoultre undertook the development of several calibers with complications and long power reserves. In particular, in 2004 an 8-day manual-winding caliber 876 was introduced, featuring a perpetual calendar with a four-digit year and several additional displays. Then, in 2007, the brand introduced a skeleton version of this movement, the caliber 876 SQ, and the platinum Master Eight-Days Perpetual Skeleton, limited to 100 pieces. 

Caliber 876 SQ features an extraordinary and appealing skeletonization pattern on the back and part of the dial side, which looks like a planisphere. This design was chosen in honour of the famous Geophysic watch, introduced by the brand in 1958, whose main selling point in the advertising campaign was the planisphere. This design appeared to be particularly relevant in 2008, when the commemoration of the half-century of the Geophysic watch and the planisphere symbol in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s history was implied. However, the 175th anniversary of the founding of the brand, which was celebrated in 2008, was clearly at the forefront of their minds, in honour of which the present Master Eight-Days Perpetual Skeleton model was released in rose gold, powered by the same eight-day 876 SQ caliber. It was fittingly produced as a limited edition of 175 pieces. 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Eight-Days Perpetual Skeleton Limited Edition features a notable combination of an Art Deco skeleton design caliber, perpetual calendar complication and eight-day power reserve, which may be regarded as unique in modern watchmaking.

It was usual, until the early 2000s, for the skeletonization of a high-end movement to be carried out in the Baroque style, with a kind of metal lace and meticulous hand-engraving of the skeletonized mainplate and bridges. In the early 2000s, the Art Deco design – born in the 1920s – was embraced, when clear geometric shapes and a technical style of finishing were favoured. The present example and its caliber 876 SQ exemplify this approach. 

Please note that for the skeleton version of caliber 876, the design of the indicators has been slightly changed, with the replacement of the 4-digit digital display of the year with a 2-digit one. This was done because a 4-digit display would look awkward in a skeleton version. The Art Deco style of skeletonization of the caliber is emphasised by the technical style of the finish of the mainplate and bridges with grey ruthenium coating, and the longitudinal brushing on the dial side and the textured snailed finish on the reverse side. The hands and markers have a warm rose gold tone to match the case, providing a good contrast against the cool, dark grey ruthenium finish. In general, the caliber makes a very pleasant impression. If we try to evaluate its design, then, in our opinion, this is one of the best modern skeleton calibers. 

Reasons to bid 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Eight-Days Perpetual Skeleton Limited Edition appears to be a fine purchase for a collector or haute horlogerie afficionado as a collectible watch featuring a notable combination of an Art Deco skeleton design caliber, perpetual calendar complication and eight-day power reserve, which may be regarded as unique in modern watchmaking. The peculiar high-mech aesthetics of the caliber, featuring a planisphere mainplate and bridges with a skeletonization pattern, are embedded with traditional fine finishing and advanced technical specifications. It is a beautiful, rare and unprecedented complicated mechanical wristwatch from a world-famous traditional watch brand, one of the undoubted leaders in the haute horlogerie watch market. The recognisable and instantly memorable Art Deco skeleton design undoubtedly adds to the appeal of this lot.