Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic Cal.481 18ct 1949


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Inspected, Serviced & Guaranteed

A Carefully Owned & Very Early Example

Wonderful Jaeger-LeCoultre 9ct Yellow Gold Case

33mm Diameter Case, Excluding the JL Signed Crown

Very High Grade JLC Cal. 481, 17 Jewel Bumper Automatic Movement

Previously Restored Ivory Dial with Mixed ‘Baton’ and ‘3 – 6 – 9 – 12’ Indices

All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition

New Brown Alligator Strap & Plain Gold-Plated Buckle

Hardwood Presentation Box Included, as Shown

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

Sold 8th July '22
VGW Reference: JLC1552
Price £3,450 Sold


Out of stock

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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, the calibre 101 or the iconic Reverso, it would be difficult to imagine a historical account of watchmaking without the mention of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

It is not so well known, that in addition to producing movements for its own watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre has always produced a great many movements for a number of famous watch houses including Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, IWC, and Cartier. Indeed for most of the 20th Century, Jaeger-LeCoultre even supplied bare movements to the great firm of Patek Philippe. 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. The exquisite Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 920, is still in production and in use today by both Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.


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 to avoid unnecessary winding of a watch, simply because one feels its power may be running low. Conversely, it also encourages one to wind the watch when it is running low, 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 a minimum of two-thirds wound.

**A Power Reserve Indicator (originally called Réserve de Marche), is a ‘complication’ of a watch movement, designed to show the amount of remaining stored power or charge the watch has left. The  indicator indicates the power contained in the mainspring at any particular moment and this is one of the most useful mechanical watch complications.

Introduced in late 1948, the Calibre 481 evolved from the very first automatic movement from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the JLC Calibre 476. Like the Calibre 476, the Calibre 481 features a bumper winding mechanism, meaning the rotor bounces between springs in an arc of around 270 degrees. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 481 was the first watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre with a power reserve meter and although the movement has been considerably updated, this product line has continued today, along with the names ‘Powermatic’ and ‘Reserve De Marche’.

Here we have a beautifully preserved and lightly used 1949 vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic Calibre 481 in 18ct Yellow Gold. The watch has been previously restored to the very highest standards and as can be seen from the photographs, is in totally immaculate condition. Even though is this one of the earlier Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic watches, it is an exceedingly accurate and highly reliable timepiece, which is perfectly useable and practical today.

The Dial

We think Jaeger-LeCoultre, along with Longines, have made some of the most beautiful watch dials, characterised by simple effortless elegance which somehow always looks ‘just right’.

The example here is previously restored and yet it is in almost flawless condition. Typically, a dial of this age will suffer from fading, staining, pitting, spotting and scratches, but to the naked eye, the dial here looks perfect. Only under high magnification can the faintest signs of spotting be found. We have therefore concluded this dial is far too good to restore and so we have left it alone. This beautiful ivory dial carries applied ‘3 – 6 – 9 – 12’ standard arabic numerals which are matched with the original and unrestored ‘dauphine’ hands.

The dial is correctly signed ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’ with ‘Automatic’ just below 12.

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. 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.

As mentioned above, this dial has been previously restored to a very high standard and as can be seen remains in sparkling condition.

The Movement

The watch carries its original Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 481, 17 Jewel bumper automatic 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 before careful calibration and testing. Upon return to stock, the watch is now running to within +9 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’ and ‘Automatic’ with the Calibre No. 481, along with ’17 Jewels’, ‘Swiss’ and the movement serial number 691679. This serial number dates this watch correctly 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.

The Watch Case

18ct 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. The 18ct solid yellow gold example here has a 33mm diameter case, excluding the JL signed crown. This case also carries the most beautiful fancy lugs which significantly add to the presence of the watch on the wrist.

The watch case is in immaculate condition with no scratches, dings or damage visible to the naked eye. The inside of the case is correctly signed ‘LeCoultre’ and ’18K’ with the case serial number 533695 on the exterior of the case back.

Please note – our standard advice applies: Vintage Watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Strap and Buckle

The watch is fitted with a high quality brown alligator strap and a plain gold-plated buckle. However, 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. We can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of straps.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with the watch, the numbers and markings are all correct, dating this watch to 1949.

Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will 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 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.

The watch comes complete with a high quality hardwood presentation box, as shown in the photographs.

Payment and Delivery

If you would like to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.

Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and, unfortunately, out of our control.

We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges; however, attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.

For those who happen to visit London on occasion, we are, of course, more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and hand your watch directly to you there.

As with all our watches, this watch will be sold under our 14 days no-quibble sale or return policy.

In Conclusion

This is a simply wonderful vintage gold Jaeger-LeCoultre dress watch and a particularly significant 1st edition model which holds a special position 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 over 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 on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them 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 means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly 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.

Please note, we also welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or a small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.

We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.

If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on +44 207 727 7095.

Please take a look at our other fine vintage gold watches.

Thank you.