From the Maharaja of Porbandar to Charlie Chaplin, Saif Ali Khan and Dev Patel, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been personalising watches for its special clients around the world for more than a century.
The expertise and virtuosity of Jaeger-LeCoultre have always been revealed through each of its timepieces, created over the last 180 years. Watchmakers, artisans, engineers and technicians, united in the same location at the heart of the Vallée de Joux, share the same vision of excellence and work to give birth to unique horological creations. Together, the 1,300 men and women who work here exercise their talents to push technological boundaries, creating great new watches every year.
A critical operation within this watchmaking facility is that of the engravers and enamellists. Mastery, expertise and imagination guide their every action, where accuracy nearest to a hundredth of a millimetre is an everyday demand. Their exceptional skills become all the more important in the personalisation of watches. It is something that Jaeger-LeCoultre has been doing for more than century now. A beautiful minute repeater pocket watch, personalised in 1890 for the Maharaja of Porbandar, for example, is still in existence. Made in a yellow-gold case with engravings, it has bright green flowers enamelled along the edges.
The brand had an even more personal connection with the legendary Charlie Chaplin. In 1953, after being denied re-entry in the US, the actor had permanently exiled himself to Manoir de Ban, a 35-acre estate in rural Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva. Soon after his arrival, the cantonal authorities were so grateful for his settling there that they greeted him with a personalised Jaeger- LeCoultre Memovox watch, in a gold case engraved with the inscription: `Hommage du government Vaudois à Charlie Chaplin – 6 Octobre 1953’. This mechanical piece, equipped with an alarm function, has remained with the Chaplin family since. Michael Chaplin inherited it in 1977 on his father’s death, and gifted it to his wife on their wedding day.
In 2013, Michael’s daughter, the film director Carmen Chaplin, portrayed this watch in a poetic and evocative short film ‘A time for everything’, dealing with heritage and transmission between generations. Recently restored to its former glory by Jaeger-LeCoultre, this Memovox is now back in the historical home of its first owner, where visitors to Chaplin’s World museum can enjoy the pleasure of viewing this legendary watch.
In 1972 , Jaeger-LeCoultre was once again chosen as a means of paying tribute to Charlie Chaplin, when he was awarded the `Caméra Souriante’ (smiling camera) prize by the Swiss press photographers association. This homage took the form of a personalized Atmos clock, the Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece famous for working on the variations in ambient temperature. The brand has since loaned Charlie’s World an Atmos Classique identical to the one presented to Charlie Chaplin at the time.
Closer home, Saif Ali Khan is the proud owner of a personalised Jaeger-LeCoultre in the form of a Reverso Grande Taille, with the Pataudi family crest engraved on the reverse side of the watch case. More recently, Dev Patel was honoured with a Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931 in steel, with a special engraving of an image of a tree on the reverse, a symbol of great value to him. “I guess what I am trying to say is that, for me, the image of a tree is a representation of life in all its complexity and beauty. It stands to represent opportunities, dreams, and should remind us all that being perfect is not the key… growing is…” Patel said, when asked about the engraving.
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