As the representative brand of French watchmaking, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch will often be amazed by its unique flawless beauty. Walking out of the entrance of the factory building, it was only a 2-3 minute walk. We came to the quiet attic of the enamel making workshop, which is mainly used to make enamel crafts and carvings.
The Jura Valley in Switzerland is also known as the Valley of Watches and Clocks. Over 100 years ago, the watches produced here accounted for 90% of the total Swiss watch production. The last time I came here was the early spring season 2 years ago, but this time it was winter in the snow cellar. The phrase ‘Winter in the Jura Valley’ has long been branded with Swiss clocks, and its subtext is: every winter, the snow caps the mountain, and the time is still, but the watchmakers are still day after day Sun and earth worked hard. This scene in the history of the Jura Valley has continued to 300 years ago, and it has also psychologically narrowed the gap between me and my destination, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch factory.
Tradition is the foundation of innovation
Passing through the two-tight security gates, the exquisite waiting area is displayed in front of our eyes. Above the head is a brief illustration of the double-wing tourbillon. Opposite is the important tool invented by the founder Antoine LeCoultre-Antoine created in 1844. Instruments that measure one-millionth of a meter have promoted the development of the watch industry. Antoine LeCoultre started his watchmaking career at Le Sentier in 1833. The factory was established in 1866 and has not stopped production for nearly a century and a half. The factory was last expanded in 2009, with a total area from 16,000 square meters to 25,000 square meters and nearly 1,400 employees. There is a saying in Switzerland: ‘The more windows there are in the sun, the better the watch factory.’ The Jaeger-LeCoultre watch factory is connected by several factory buildings, and quietly estimated that there must be hundreds of windows in the window of Chaoyang, which deserves to be one of the largest and best watch factories in Switzerland.
According to the law of visiting watch factories before, a certain neglected production link may be that the manufacturer simply does not have the manufacturing capabilities in this area and outsourced it to other companies. Even some watch factories that have their own production workshops may not be able to grasp the traditional manufacturing process of all precision parts. In view of this, despite the high expectations of the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch factory, I still have something in mind-can I really see the production process of precision parts such as escapements this time?
First came to the mold development and parts stamping workshop. The cost of opening a pair of molds is considerable. Usually, molds are made only when there are relatively high requirements on the accuracy and output of parts. In the Jaeger-LeCoultre factory, more than 6000 sets of independently developed molds have been stocked. The earliest one was from 1930. Each set of molds means that Jaeger-LeCoultre can quickly and accurately make a model of a part. The next few workshops I visited belonged to the processing and production of precision parts in the watch manufacturing system. Here, for the first time, I witnessed the production process of the pallet fork. The young female watchmaker stuck solid rubies to the pallet fork with solid glue under a high magnifying glass. On average, several watchmakers at the site can install 1,000 watches a day. It is difficult to install one for ordinary people. This is why there are not even five watch factories in Switzerland that can truly produce all of them.
Going deeper is the manual grinding and manual installation of the basic parts, such as manually screwing the splint, manually installing the ruby shaft eye, manually polishing the decoration, and manually chamfering. Jaeger-LeCoultre is not without the equipment for automatic grinding and installation of rubies, but it also keeps the most traditional manual production equipment and produces it continuously, which is very rare.
Only unexpected, not impossible
Walking in a labyrinth-like factory building, we turned left and right, and went upstairs and downstairs to the movement’s design and development department and prototype development department. Jaeger-LeCoultre movement research and development were not carried out independently by the movement designer. Instead, it was completed by a designer and an engineer. The designer was wearing white overalls, and the engineer was wearing blue overalls. The advantage of this is that the solution issued by the research and development part must be operable, without the designer’s plan, and the prototype part cannot be executed at all, and then it is repeatedly modified or completely rejected. After the research and development is the assembly part, the on-site watchmaker is responsible for the assembly of large complex functions such as the REVERSO spherical tourbillon, are master watchmakers, each person is responsible for a watch from beginning to end. On the right side of the corridor, there is an assembly shop for complex function tables with a relatively low level of overall difficulty. There are thirty or forty watchmakers. They will perform division of labor. A watch may be divided into three steps to be completed by three watchmakers. For example, a watchmaker is responsible for installing the escapement speed regulating structure. Quality and efficiency.
After walking out of the entrance of the factory building, it was only a 2 ~ 3 minute walk. We came to the quiet attic of the enamel making workshop, which is mainly used for making enamel crafts and carvings. All Reverso carvings and decorations around the world come from several stations in front of them. In the enamel workshop, the principle of silence is golden, because in the eyes of the artist, action is better than words. They are proficient in this ancient craft, skilled in technology, professional knowledge and bold imagination, guiding every process of the craftsman. Here, the sound of breathing can be heard intermittently, as we may be difficult to understand in the impetuous business world, but here is Switzerland-a country unlike any other country. Back in another area of the watch factory, I visited the production of air clocks and the clean room where the dials were installed, and finally came to the museum on the top floor. Here is a display of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s historic classic clear glass clock wall, which houses over 400 innovative patents applied by the brand from 1886 to 2010.
Each Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece confirms the expertise and craftsmanship of the watchmaking workshop. Here, artisans, designers and watchmakers are gathered under the same roof, continuing the proud tradition and presenting With groundbreaking innovation drivers and tribute to noble watchmaking traditions.