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.
Here we have a beautifully preserved and lightly used 1949 vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic automatic watch in 18ct Pink Gold. This watch has been fully restored by ourselves to the very highest standards and as can be seen from the photographs, it is in totally immaculate condition. This is the European E163 model with the ultra rare ‘Jumbo’ 37mm 18cy pink gold case. This is also a very early example. Produced in early 1949, this one of the earliest Powermatics, as the Powermatic was first released in late 1948.
It is becoming popular again for watch manufacturers to include a ‘Power Reserve Indicator’** on some of their more sophisticated automatic watches, and fantastically useful they are too, in allowing one to know when a watch is running low on power. This helps avoid unnecessary winding of a watch, simply because one feels it may be running low on power. Conversely, it also encourages one to wind the watch when it is running out of power, avoiding the watch stopping and losing track of time. Note – automatic movements help to maintain the performance of a watch because a movement is generally better at maintaining its accuracy when it is fully wound, or at least two thirds fully wound.
**A Power Reserve Indicator (originally called Réserve de Marche), is a ‘complication’ of a watch, designed to show the amount of remaining stored energy has left. The power reserve indicator indicates the tension on the mainspring at any particular moment and is one of the most useful features of a mechanical watch, as well as the actual time display.
Introduced in 1948, the Calibre 481 evolved from the very first automatic movement from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the JLC Calibre 476. Like the Cal.476, the Cal.481 features a bumper winding mechanism, meaning the rotor bounces between springs in an arc of around 300 degrees. The JLC Cal.481 was the first watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre with a power reserve meter and although the movement has been considerably updated, the product line has continued today, along with the names Powermatic and Reserve De Marche.
Even though is this one of the earliest Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic watches, it is an exceedingly accurate and highly reliable timepiece, which is perfectly useable and practical today.
We think Jaeger-LeCoultre, along with Longines, make some of the most beautiful dials. They are characterised by simple effortless elegance which somehow looks, just right.
The Powermatic dial has a ‘Power Reserve indicator’ which reads ’40’ on a white background when it is fully wound or ‘charged’, indicating the watch’s 40hr power reserve. As this runs down, the meter not only continues to indicate the power level or ‘charge’, but the background changes to red as the charge falls below 10 hours.
Knowing, or at least being reassured of, this information was perhaps more important in the early days of automatic watches, as other early examples produced by other manufacturers were not so reliable and did not have such a large power reserve. However, this is a very useful feature to have, even today.
This highly impressive dial is an art-deco masterpiece. It is also highly sophisticated and highly elegant. All in fact which Jaeger-LeCoultre represents. The dial is slightly off-white with a slight pearl reflective quality, which picks up the light beautifully. Depending on the environment, the colour moves subtly between pure white and a warm pearl white. The original gold faceted ‘Dauphine’ hands are in superb condition, as are the applied spearhead and triangular hour indices. The dial is signed ~ Jaeger-LeCoultre and Automatic and Swiss at the very bottom of the dial below the ‘6’.
This is the original dial which has been restored to the highest possible standards by the best dial restorers in the UK.
The lens is clear having been replaced with a new original.
The watch carries its original Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre.481, 17 Jewel movement, which is in tip-top condition following a thorough overhaul and service by our vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre specialist watchmaker. This means the movement has been completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and rebuilt using only original parts where required, then careful calibration and testing. Upon return to stock, the watch is now running to within +8 seconds per day, which is outstanding for any vintage watch of this age! When fully wound, this movement has a 40-hour power reserve. It has been very well maintained and cared for and as can be seen, the movement is in sparkling condition.
The movement is signed ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’ ‘Automatic’ with the Calibre No.481, along with 17 Jewels, Swiss and the movement serial number 635,196. This serial number dates this watch to 1949.
These movements are strong, accurate and very reliable, making it completely practical and appropriate for regular everyday use. Our watchmaker has indicated this particular movement is in top condition and with regular servicing, every 3 years we fully expect this watch to run very happily for many more decades to come! We are therefore very pleased to offer a 12-month warranty on this watch movement* and servicing in the future, as required.
*Please note our 12 months warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.
Please note – our standard advice applies: Vintage Watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Watch Case
Solid gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatics are rare, as for some reason most were made with rolled gold cases which are effectively steel with a thicker gold plate. 18ct Pink Gold Powermatics are exceedingly rare and in this size, sometimes referred to as ‘Jumbo’ size at 37mm excluding the crown, almost never seen! Just to underline, this is a genuine original Jaeger-LeCoultre case, not a case made by anyone else!
The multi-faceted profile of the watch case indicates it is of exceedingly high quality, being constructed in three pieces with a screw-back which has a rubber seal. At 13mm, this is quite a deep case in order to accommodate the sizeable automatic movement.
Due to the sophisticated case construction with multiple edges and its elegant, acute profile, the watch sits beautifully on the wrist and looks every bit the quality piece it is. The watch case is in immaculate condition with no signs of wear, dings or damage visible to the naked eye. The inside of the case is correctly signed LC for LeCoultre and 18, 0.750. It also carries twin Swiss Geneva 18ct hallmarks.
The Strap and Buckle
The watch is fitted with a new, dark brown crocodile skin strap. Please note 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 burgundy and black straps in stock, in plain, padded leather, alligator, crocodile or lizard skin.
The Box and Papers
Although there are are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating the watch to 1949.
Our detailed ‘Particulars’ document will be included in the sale, with our detailed receipt and our 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 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 watch also comes complete with a good quality hardwood presentation box as shown.
This is a simply amazing vintage gold Jaeger-LeCoultre watch and a particularly significant model in the evolution of automatic watches. We are very proud to offer this superb example here in completely immaculate condition. It is many more times more stylish than a modern equivalent watch and even though almost 70 years old, it is still completely fresh, reliable and practical to wear as an everyday watch, 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. 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!