The immensely exclusive Hybris Artistica collection by Jaeger-LeCoultre is currently displayed at the Masterpiece 2014 exhibition in London. One of the most prestigious art fairs is thus the first event in Europe where members of the broader public can admire the mesmerizing series until the event’s closing on June 2. The Hybris Artistica is to say the least upscale collection. It rounds up a dozen of some of the brand’s most intricate and demanding pieces and presents them in an even more lavish package. To make it so, JLC uses a broad spectrum of decorative techniques which are at its disposal. As for the all star team of masterpieces that the Valee de Joux brand decided to embellish and include in its highly sumptuous collection, these are: Atmos Marquetry Clock, Duometre a Grande Sonnerie, Duometre Sphertourbillon, Doumetre Spherotourbillon Enamel, Duometre Sphertourbillon Pocket Watch, Grande Reverso Tourbillon Squelette, Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3, Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Celeste, Master Gyrotourbillon 1, Reverso Cordonnet Neva, Rendez-Vous Celestial and Rendez-Vous Tourbillon.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is the company whose production facilities round up top craftsmen and craftswomen from as much as 180 different watchmaking disciplines. With such wide array of techniques at disposal, it comes as no surprise that the Swiss brand opted to proudly demonstrate its set of skills. What is a bit unusual, even for a manufacturer with such credentials, is that it decided to launch a dozen of these models in the same year. The entire collection whose name derives from the Greek word hubris which means “excessive pride or self-confidence” is a great representation of the exclusivity level of the included pieces.
The Hybris Artistica timekeepers were initially premiered to the selected audience at the SIHH 2014. Subsequently, the JLC lineage that combines high-end watchmaking and fine art was on display in New York and Shanghai where all of the visitors were able to admire its beauty. The currently held Masterpiece exhibition in The Royal Hospital Chelsea in London is the first venue in Europe where this is possible. Apart from the opportunity to see these watches, the visitors of the Masterpiece 2014 will also be able to take part in the Master Class organized by the brand and learn how to assemble a mainspring of a movement. Furthermore, there is also an option to attend the Enamel Master Class and learn more about the decorative technique from the Maison’s master enameler, as well as to even try out in enameling themselves. Now let us share a few details about the fascinating members of the magnificent dozen from the Hybris Artistica lineage.
Atmos Marquetry Clock
The first among the dozen timekeepers that comprise the Hybris Artistica collection is an amazing piece that runs on an ingenious movement which is powered by temperature shifts. Its efficiency is so high that even a slight change of just one degree keeps the clock with a moon phase display running for two whole days. The clock consists of three sections and it was made from the combination of Indian rosewood, horse chestnut and crystal glass. While the doors and wooden parts are ornamented by motifs of the renowned artist Alphonse Mucha, two separate dials for hours and minutes are in Grand Feu enamel. Additionally, the moon phase indication features a star studded motif sprinkled with diamonds. There are also two miniatures by Mucha which are inspired by and depict spring and fall, respectively.
Duometre a Grande Sonnerie
The second member of the series is a beautified version of the most complicated watch in the world – Duometre a Grande Sonnerie. The magnificently complex timekeeper which was launched half a decade ago is protected with no less than ten patents. It includes a trio of the very reputable high complications – a tourbillion, a perpetual calendar and a striking mechanism with chimes that replicate the sounds of the Big Ben. Moreover, it is not just any striking mechanism, but the most supreme found in any wristwatch. It has the ability to reproduce the Big Ben’s melody longer than any of the rival models. The complex piece is for the sake of the series further enriched with the inclusion of a rock crystal that reveals the movement from both sides. This material, which unlike the regular glass interacts with the light to give it a supreme visual quality, is so lovely and peculiar looking that it earned a mythical status in several different cultures.
The next in line is Duometre Sphertourbillon, another prime example of the brand’s technical expertise. The list of its impressive traits is quite extensive and among other things it includes: two separate movements that share a common regulating organ and a tourbillion which has two axis of rotation. Additionally, it is the first tourbillion that allows time setting to a second. For the purposes of the novel artistic series by JLC, this piece has received several new embellishments. It has its case made of two sapphire domes and with lugs made of white gold. More enchanting things are seen on the watch’s white gold dial which is hand-engraved in multiple directions. Finally, three counters of the dial are treated with Grand Feu enamel.
Doumetre Spherotourbillon Enamel
Furthermore, we have another artistic approach to the same model as it was the case with the last one. Instead of engraving, the entire right part of the face is dominated with a lovely blue paillonne enamel technique. This exceptionally demanding decorative procedure requires that an artisan chips tiny and delicate motifs (paiillons) from a block of solid silver. Further steps in the creation include an extreme heat treatment and finally its polishing which ultimately makes the dial look as a starry night sky. As if all of this was not enough, there are additional decorations visible on the piece. These are an enameled segment on the bezel of the same kind as the one on the dial, as well as a lovely motif inspired by the ones found on the Venetian Doge’s Palace which ornaments the case-band with a transparent section.
Duometre Sphertourbillon Pocket Watch
Next, there is also the third and final model that stems from Duometre Spherotourbillon model (which was by the way just like the first model from the Hybris Artistico, Atmos clock, unveiled at the SIHH 2012). Apart from being a premier pocket watch with Duometre Sphertourbillon, this model is also heavily influenced by the brand’s vintage pocket watch from 1928. It has a slightly different architectonics since its tourbillion is moved to the bottom of the face. Moreover, in this instance it is a floating tourbillion since it is held in place with a transparent bridge made of sapphire. Most of the watch’s face is made in finely chiseled white gold, while the three featured dials are enameled. The entire dial has an airy quality since it does not stretch all the way to the case, but is instead joined to the bezel with twelve golden attachments. As for the bezel itself, it and the case-band are decorated with blue enamel treatment.
Grande Reverso Tourbillon Squelette
The next piece in the series is made with one of the brand’s best known types of cases – the revolving Reverso housing that was originally made for polo players in order to enable its wearer to turn the dial the other way and to protect it from bumps. This model is not only equipped with a tourbillon complication, but also opulently hand-finished and totally exposed from all sides since most of its pivoting housing is made of sapphire. The white gold metal frame to the movement is ornamented with a sunburst guilloche motif.
Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3
Next, we have yet another technically impressive model that was exceptionally appealing and challenging to create even in its “regular” version. It is Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon 3 which first saw the light of day last year. It possesses a flying gyrotourbillon of exceptional lightness which exposes the complication even further since it lacks an upper bridge. Additionally, it is the premier grand complication watch ever that was made with a digital display for its stop-watch function. The model’s artistic version integrated in the Hybris Artistica collection raises the bar even further since its case is made of tantalum, a rare material which is decidedly strenuous to process.
Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Celeste
Another member of the Hybris Artistica lineage which is originally from the Master collection, Grande Tradition Tourbillon Celeste, is oriented towards the starry sky. For starters, it includes a flying tourbillion that circles around the dial. Next, it has a sidereal time instead of the solar one and uses Sirius as its reference point. To create a representation of night sky, JLC artisans used aventurine in royal blue shade. Moreover, it features guilloche motifs which were subsequently covered with transparent lacquer coating on both its dial and the flange. It likewise possesses an unusual case structure, since domed sapphire is not held in place by a bezel, but instead fitted directly to its case back.
Master Gyrotourbillon 1
The next watch included in the series is the first iteration of Gyrotourbillon which Jaeger-LeCoultre premiered a decade ago. Its feather-light tourbillion is comprised of two carriages of which the inner one with the regulating organ constantly revolves at the right angle to the outer one. Additional functions of the complex watch are shown on the upper half of the face. These are the running equation of time and a retrograde date display with two hands. The final display that tells whether it is a leap or common year is placed at the rear side of the case.
Once again, the supreme technical qualities are supplemented with poetic and artistic approach. This model has an exceptionally uncommon feature – a totally skeletonized dial made of aventurine plate with intricate carvings and covered with blue lacquer coating. As it was seen in the previous model, this one also has a clever housing construction without a bezel.
Reverso Cordonnet Neva
The last trio of watches is intended for women and is mostly decorated with impressive stone setting. The first one of these is Reverso Coronnet Neva, a lovely ladies’ timekeeper of supreme beauty. Once again, we have a piece that has a reversible housing. Reverso Coronnet Neva has an overall Art Deco inspiration which is among other things visible on its cord-type of bracelet that was characteristic for the period. This timekeeper (which is actually a new interpretation of the brand’s vintage model from the 1930s) is actually the least impressive in the technical sense when compared to other members of the Hybris Artistico lineage. It has only two central hands for hour and minutes. However, it is just remarkable as the other models when it comes to the embellishments. The white gold watch with wavy motifs has its dial, case and bracelet completely covered in diamonds with the use of technique known as snow-setting.
Another sparkly watch in the series is Rendez-Vous Celestial which was inspired by astrology. Beneath an arc on the top of the dial which displays the brand’s recognizable stretching numerals, the timekeeper features an elliptical opening that reveals a revolving section made of lapis-lazuli. On it, there are painted signs of the Western Zodiac and a single shooting star which can be positioned at the wearer’s preference. This is just the beginning of the story about the decorations that are present on the watch. All surfaces except the oval opening are paved with baguette-cut diamonds in the Jeager-LeCoultre patented and mysterious technique called rock setting which does not include any visible metal parts in-between the sparkly precious stones.
The final model in the Hybris Artistica series is fairly similar to the previous timekeeper which is also originally from the women’s Rendez-Vous collection. Instead of the revolving night sky, the bottom of the dial of this one is reserved for a tourbillion complication while the flange includes nine Arabic numerals of the same size. This watch is also made from white gold and also completely paved with diamonds with the use of rock-setting procedure.