A Weekend Away With The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Triple Date
by Owen Davies ; @86imaging | March 02, 2018
I have long been an admirer of Jaeger-LeCoultre. There’s just something about the company’s commitment to restrained watch design and tradition that ticks a lot of boxes for me, so when I was asked to write a review on the Master Control Triple Date, I didn’t need a lot of persuasion!
Normally when I review a watch, it’s done within the confines of the Xupes headquarters during my working week, plus whatever I’m up to at the weekend. This time though, my review coincided with a short break to the Belgian city of Bruges. Beautiful town, plus a beautiful watch - surely a match made in heaven?
Before I answer that, let me introduce the watch itself.
What is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Triple Date?
The Master Control Triple Date reference 140.8.87, to give it its full name, was in production from the mid 90’s until being replaced by the Master Calendar 1558420 in 2013.
As the name suggests, the watch features a triple date calendar complication, which for the uninitiated, means that it is able to display the day, date and month in addition to the time.
The Master Control has a design that harks back to the mid-century calendar watches, with arrow-shaped hands and hour markers, small seconds display and a date track that runs around the outer edge of the dial. The stainless steel case is a very wearable 37mm in diameter and is fitted with a beautiful bracelet which really completes the classic look that the Triple Date aims for.
Inside the watch beats a Jaeger 891/447 calibre self-winding movement which is of course, manufactured in-house by Jaeger-LeCoultre and, like all watches in the Master collection, is subjected to 1000 hours of rigorous testing. The movement has a power reserve of 40 hours which is perfect for daily wear and the calendar can be independently adjusted using the pusher buttons that are flushed into the sides of the case.
The perfect travel partner?
Picking up and putting the Triple Date on brought a little smile to my face, which is no mean feat at 6 am when I’m getting ready to catch my train - I am not a morning person! The watch instantly felt comfortable, with the small links of the bracelet moulding nicely to the shape of my wrist and the silver dial glinting as it caught the light. I had set the watch the previous evening and found it very intuitive to operate. Winding and setting the time are performed via the crown and the calendar function is set using the pushers on the side of the case. For anyone who has used an older calendar watch, they will know how useful this feature is. The date, day and month can all be set individually, meaning if you make a mistake and go past your intended day or number, it only affects the one you are adjusting. Just make sure to allow for setting the time as sweeping past 12 o’ clock will advance the entire calendar on one day! The pushers need a tool to be pressed ( a wooden toothpick will also work in a pinch) and do require a little pressure so that the watch can’t be accidentally adjusted when worn.
I found myself staring at the dial quite a lot during my train journey, appreciating the triangular pyramid hour markers which change tones of silver as the light moves across them. I also liked how spacious the dial appeared, which is difficult for a triple calendar watch with a small seconds dial to achieve. Overall though, I was really taken with just how classical the watch looked and speeding across northern France on a train whilst wearing it felt like I could have been doing the same thing 70 years ago.
My three days in Bruges were mostly filled with chocolate and then enough sightseeing to justify stopping for more chocolate and the occasional beer. The Jaeger stood up to this brutal schedule admirably, keeping steady time and looking fantastic along the way.
Looking back, what I noticed most about the watch was that I didn’t really notice it at all. The Triple Date was so comfortable to wear, that I forgot I had it on until I needed to glance at the time or take it off at the end of the day. The watch is also water resistant up to 50 metres, so unlike a similar looking vintage piece, I didn’t need to worry about it getting wet. Just as well too, because apparently, it rains in Bruges. A lot.
As good as the watch was, I did experience a couple of minor irritations whilst wearing it. I found the dial quite difficult to read in low light as the areas of luminous paint are very small. I understand Jaeger did this to preserve the styling of the hands and hour markers, but a little more illumination would be a welcome addition.
My other bugbear is the bracelet. I found it incredibly comfortable and the integrated deployant clasp looks fantastic, but the mirror polished links were not really to my tastes. I felt that it looked a little too ‘dressy’ when worn with a casual outfit and I would prefer a leather strap for the majority of situations I would wear the watch in. Luckily for me, Jaeger-LeCoultre did offer this watch with the option of a leather strap and deployant buckle, so this would be the model I would choose were I to buy one.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Jaeger Master Control Triple Date. I found it to be a charming watch inspired by mid-century design, but one that utilises modern watchmaking techniques to make a more practical timepiece compared to similar looking vintage offerings. As I mentioned earlier, there’s very little I didn’t like about the watch and I could certainly see myself purchasing one in the future. I would say that with the bracelet, it looks like more of an occasion watch, but if you were to have an additional leather strap, it would suit quite nicely as a daily wearer.
As for Bruges, I think it’s probably the prettiest city I’ve ever visited and much like the Triple Date, can feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Was it the perfect travel partner? Absolutely.