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Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) teamed up with online menswear purveyor Mr Porter to create a wristwatch for the upcoming retro spy film The King’s Man, where the heroes are mainly sharply-dressed spies with canes and signet rings.
Set in the years before the First World War, the film doubtlessly called for a watch that is seemingly period-correct – yet obviously one that would appeal to the today’s consumer. The result is the Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife Watch, a razor-thin, 4.25 mm wristwatch that takes inspiration from a vintage ultra-thin pocket watch.
At a glance, the watch might seem like a conventional but handsome dress watch. But the case design is outstanding – and compared to JLC’s recent creations, dramatically different.
The case is round with a wide, double-stepped bezel, a feature that gives it an old-school, classic feel. And the stepped bezel also adds presence so that the case doesn’t look too flat. And more unusually, the crown is at 12 o’clock and protected by a triangular bow. And the reason for the crown position is the fact that the watch is essentially a pocket watch with lugs.
The origins of the design lie in a 1907 Jaeger-LeCoultre pocket watch, nicknamed “couteau” – French for “knife” – after its thin case with a sharp edge. That said, the “couteau” pocket watch is arguably more widely associated with Cartier, which relied on LeCoultre movements for its watches, which were made by the European Watch & Clock Company (EWC) that was led by Edmond Jaeger, who later joined with LeCoultre to found Jaeger-LeCoultre. And as it happens, both Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier are now owned by Richemont – which also owns Mr Porter.
The historical inspiration makes the watch a little more interesting, and combined with the striking design, it should be a winner. Except for the price, which at just below US$30,000, is far higher than it should be. That is especially so given Jaeger-LeCoultre’s propensity to remake successful limited editions in other iterations.
A gentleman’s watch
Forty millimetres wide and just 4.25 mm thick, the Kingsman Knife Watch is the thinnest watch in JLC’s catalogue. The case is pink gold while the dial is a simple, printed affair – dressed up with blued-steel hands – thoroughly appropriate for an ultra-thin watch.
It is good to see JLC return to the ultra-thin cal. 849, a movement that’s been part of the brand’s offerings since 1975 (as the essentially identical, predecessor cal. 839). Once the staple of its extra-thin line up, the movement is not found in the JLC catalogue at time of writing, but it is making a return in dramatic fashion here.
The Kingsman Knife Watch feels like a sincere attempt to create something novel yet classical. And it was successful; the design is effective in looking elegant yet sporty enough for a gentleman spy. But the watch is expensive for what it is.
Key Facts and Price
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife Watch
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 4.25 mm
Material: 18k pink gold
Water resistance: 30 m
Movement: Cal. 849
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 36 hours
Strap: Brown alligator with 18k gold pin buckle
Limited edition: 100 watches
Availability: Exclusively from Mr Porter from July 20 to September 6; and then from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s e-commerce store and physical boutiques starting September 6
Price: US$29,800; or 44,200 Singapore dollars
For more, visit Jaeger-lecoultre.com.