Luxury & Fashion
Apr 1, 2015
Quest for Balance
Since 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has proved able to strike just the right balance between nature and culture, innovation and tradition, growth and respect for the environment, international expansion and local roots.
This balance, an extremely rare phenomenon within the world of industry, was born from the tough specific constraints imposed by the geographical situation of the Manufacture: the Vallée de Joux is perched an altitude of 1000 meters, far from commercial routes, surrounded by the largest forest stretches in Switzerland, and subject to an extremely harsh climate. By mining the modest local iron deposits, its inhabitants were able to make the most of the endless winters to create the world's most complicated and most prestigious watches.
As the "Grande Maison" of the Vallée de Joux, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre made a strong contribution to regional development in the 19th century. In a valley with a population of 6,000, it currently employs over 1000 people. This situation makes it keenly aware of its responsibility to maintain a balance between human activities and nature.
By committing itself to a genuine policy of sustainable development, the Brand is participating in preserving the unique natural setting of the region that is home to many rare or endangered plant or animal species. This commitment is expressed through concrete measures implemented in the field of buildings, transport, energy, recycling and the conservation of local ground water. On a broader level, the Manufacture applies strict norms to its sourcing of wood, paper, leather and diamonds.
In addition to promoting respect for our natural heritage, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre also plays a key role in the development of the national cultural heritage. Serving as the guardian of hundreds of specific skills, including certain extremely rare crafts, it is also one of the most innovative companies in its field. Its exceptional creations constantly renew the grand Swiss watchmaking tradition. Displayed in both its Heritage Gallery and in travelling exhibitions, its collections of historical timepieces represent a bridge between the past and the future. Above and beyond horology as such, Jaeger-LeCoultre also supports culture as expressed in the visual arts, including through partnerships with the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris or the Mostra film festival in Venice.
Heir to an exceptional material and immaterial cultural legacy, Jaeger-LeCoultre is dedicated to doing all in its power to hand on to future generations an environment that has been effectively safeguarded and a world enriched with a wealth of culture.
Heritage and Know-How
A cradle of culture; what is fine watchmaking, if not the art of transforming small pieces of metal into mechanical marvels? While fairly prosaic, this definition is nonetheless strongly revealing of the fact that the value of timepieces lies mostly in the many skills involved in their creation. Producing the simplest Reverso watch calls for 1,434 different operations, over 90% of which involve manual dexterity. No less than 31 operations are required to make a lever, the tiny component that marks off the ticking of a watch and must stand up to 515 million impacts per year! As for Calibre 101, even in white gold, the value of its raw material is a thousand times inferior to that of the work goes in to fashioning it. Jaeger-LeCoultre's greatest treasure is immaterial. It is composed of the prodigious sum of technical knowledge, experience and skills shared by the more than 1,000 people working within the Manufacture. Since 1833, watchmakers, artisans, engineers, technicians, artists, mechanics and other specialists combine their talent, their manual intelligence and their creativity to enrich and promote the international influence of Swiss horological culture. To perpetuate this grand tradition, Jaeger-LeCoultre promotes the passing on of knowledge. Its training center and its many workshops welcome a number of apprentice-watchmakers, as well as technicians seeking to hone their knowledge or to learn new special skills. Each year, Jaeger-LeCoultre hosts several dozen watchmaking students for their final-year internship. At once a school, an academy of rare professions, a breeding ground for fresh talents and a crucible of new innovations, the Manufacture offers the most visionary spirits an exceptional body of development resources, expertise and production facilities in order to give life to the wildest projects, to rediscover all but extinct skills such as miniature enameling, or to implement new technologies. Jaeger-LeCoultre builds on the past in shaping its future. Within the Manufacture, an entire department is assigned to the task of enriching, preserving, studying and sharing knowledge relating to history. Through its Heritage Gallery, along with travelling exhibitions and various publications, the Patrimony division is devoted to nurturing the identity of a watch company for which each of its creation represents a concentrated blend of expertise and a powerful cultural symbol.
Diamonds and gold Jaeger-LeCoultre remains vigilant regarding the sourcing of diamonds and gold. It is particularly sensitive about the struggle against conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process, in force since 2003 and adopted by over 75 countries including Switzerland the European Union, was created in order to fight this phenomenon. This certification system for the trade in rough diamonds is intended to prevent the diamond trade serving to fund armed conflict. It imposes the requirement that each shipment of rough diamonds passing an international border between two signatory countries must be accompanied by a certificate proving that it does not come from a conflict zone.