Since the founding of Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1833, the company has had a very inventive history, developing over 1,249 mechanical calibres, registering over 400 Patents and playing a tremendous role in the development of the industry as a whole. Whether it is the keyless watch, calibre 101, or the iconic Reverso, it would be difficult to imagine a historical account of watchmaking without the mention of Jaeger-LeCoultre. The company has always been a true ‘Manufacturer’ of the finest quality watch movements. This is unusual because more often than not, high-end brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin would buy in movements for particular needs. For example, in 1967 when Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin needed an ultra-thin automatic movement, it was to Jaeger-LeCoultre they turned, to produce one for them. Furthermore, the exquisite Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 920, is still in production and in use today by both Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.
Why This Watch Is Important
Put simply, this watch is important because it is the prettiest vintage watch ever made by Jaeger-LeCoultre and quite possibly the prettiest watch of its era. It has remained so popular and long admired, Jaeger-LeCoultre re-released this model in 1983. This watch is also very rare because most of these watches were produced in gold filled watch cases and not solid gold such as the example you see here.
The long-time head of JLC, Jacques-David LeCoultre, died in 1948 and in commemoration of his life, JLC produced the 17 Jewel, Cal. 486/A Triple-Date Moonphase movement in a run of 5,000. These movements were all signed just “LeCoultre” instead of “Jaeger LeCoultre”. 500 of these were cased in a 14ct gold case and distributed only in Europe. These are now very rare. 4,500 were exported to the USA and cased in 10k gold-filled cases, most were the not so rare rectangular shape, but a number were round. This is an example of the much rarer round-cased European version in solid 14ct gold.
In 1983, JLC celebrated its 150th anniversary in an interesting way. They went back to this same movement, recreating a run of 600 from vintage ‘new old stock’ parts and cased them in round 18k gold cases like the cases of 1949.
Incidentally, new Triple Date Moonphase watches are becoming popular once more. In the past few years and in addition to JLC, many of the other top watch houses have trawled their back catalogues to re-release similar models based on these 1950s designs. For example, Patek Philippe has recently released a Triple Date Moonphase Annual Calendar, priced at close to £40,000 in 18ct gold.
Just wonderful! Camel, with applied gilt numerals and star hour indices, matched with original ‘Dauphine’ hands. Here, the classic early subsidiary seconds dial also doubles as a moon phase indicator. This is the standard Triple Date dial design, and an all-time classic, to which most of the top watch houses adhere. We are great admirers of this dial design as is so completely symmetrical, neat and attractive, yet it manages to convey so much!
Setting this watch is very simple and straightforward. Setting the day of the week is done first. This is achieved by rotating the hands until the correct day is shown. The month is then set via a small pusher on the edge of the case at 2 o’clock. The date of the month is then set via a pusher at 4 o’clock. Finally, the moon phase is set via a pusher at 8 o’clock. An important point to remember is never to advance any of these functions while the hour hand is anywhere close to the number 12, as this can harm the movement. Another point to note is that the month does not auto advance at the end of each month. This is done manually. As long as one remembers these points, the watch will perform faithfully and reliably.
The days and months of this watch are, as you see, shown in English. This makes this watch even rarer as a large proportion of these watches were made for Non-English speaking markets during this period, in Latin. This is the original dial which has been restored to the highest standards by our dial restorers, which are considered to be the best in the UK.
The watch contains its original Jaeger-LeCoultre 17 Jewel, Calibre 486AW hand-wound, Triple Date Moonphase movement. This movement is rectangular because it was also used in a rectangular version of this watch. This movement is the updated 17 Jewel version as the earlier version had 15 Jewels. This watch has in fact, four ‘complications’, in that it indicates the day, the date, the month and the phase of the moon. This was quite a feat when this watch was first produced, yet this movement was completely designed and produced in-house by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Even more remarkably, these watches are accurate and reliable, provided they are regularly serviced and are not abused. Also, because this movement was produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre, servicing and replacement parts are not a problem.
This movement is correctly signed LeCoultre, Swiss, with 17 Jewels and the calibre number 486AW. The movement serial number is 607,308, which along with the calibre makes the date of this watch circa 1949.
Our vintage JLC specialist watchmaker has given this movement a full inspection, overhaul and service and commented he found it to be particularly clean and well maintained. Upon completion, he has carefully calibrated the watch and after our final checks and prior to photography, the watch was found to be keeping time to within +8 seconds per day! This was tested and confirmed by our electronic time-grapher and is truly outstanding for any watch of this age. As can be seen, the movement is in sparkling clean condition.
We are very happy to offer this watch with a 12 months warranty*. With care and with regular servicing around every 3 to 4 years, we would fully expect this watch to run quite happily for many more decades to come.
*Our 12 months warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.
Judging by the condition of the case prior to restoration, this watch has obviously been very well cared for and has seen only very light use. The heavy 14ct solid yellow gold case significantly adds to the rarity of this watch, as these make up only 10% of the production run of 5000 Triple Date Moonphase watches. The three-piece case design is very simple and functional and robust.
The sweeping lugs at 11 and 1 hold the watch very slightly higher on the wrist, tilting the watch slightly forward towards the wearer and thus making the watch slightly easier to read. The press fit case-back is of full thickness and has never been engraved. It is a nice tight fit and presses back with a nice and satisfying ‘pop’. Inside, the case back is signed LeCoultre and 14K.
At 35mm in diameter excluding the correct unsigned crown, this was quite a large watch by the standards of its day.
The case has been professionally inspected, cleaned and lightly polished and is in superb condition, showing only very minimal signs of wear. There are no scratches, dings, dimples or other damage visible to the naked eye.
As ever, our standard advice applies: vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap & Buckle
A high quality, Brown crocodile strap has been fitted, along with a matching gold plated Jaeger-LeCoultre buckle. Please note, we feel the strap matches the watch nicely, but if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin, however, we can also obtain most types and colours at short notice.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, all the numbers and markings on the watch are correct, dating the watch to 1949. A detailed ‘Particulars’ document will be included in the sale, along with our detailed receipt and 12 months Warranty*.
A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will also be provided at the time of sale, along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If at any time, this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.
The hardwood presentation box shown in the photographs is included in the sale.
This is a simply amazing vintage gold Jaeger-LeCoultre watch and a particularly significant model in the evolution of Triple Date Moonphase watches and we are very proud to offer this superb example here in completely immaculate condition. It is many more times more stylish and individual than a modern equivalent, and even though close to 70 years old, this watch is still completely fresh, reliable and practical to wear on a regular basis should you wish to do so.
However you may view it, this timepiece will make an excellent investment and heirloom piece, as well as be something to treasure and enjoy. As each year goes by and the world market for vintage gold watches grows ever larger, the limited supply allied to high demand means prices will inevitably climb ever higher!
A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring these to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach inevitably means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are a number of well-known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept Paypal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you wish to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or International Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please note we welcome part exchanges and if you have a watch or small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.
We will be happy to Service, Repair or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions, please call our landline 020 7727 7095 or mobile 07515 949 250 or if calling from overseas our landline number is +44 207 727 7095 or mobile +44 7515 949 250.
We will be happy to answer any questions and offer advice about this or any of our watches listed for sale. If you would like some general advice regarding any aspect of vintage watches, including buying, selling, or collecting, we will also be very happy to hear from you. We await your call!
Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine vintage gold watches!