Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Hybris Mechanica 11 (price on request) claimed world-record status at the time it was made. It was the thinnest self-wound watch combining minute repeater with a tourbillon.
But it was not a matter of “just” producing a skinny watch to demonstrate the skill of a watchmaker who can work inside half the normal space. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s goal was to develop something aesthetically pleasing that also demonstrated improved performance.
This meant a whole new minute-repeater mechanism, including a redesigned system for arming and launching it. “The minute repeater has a tourbillon and a self-winding movement, and is housed in a classic-looking watch just 7.9mm thick, half that of the regular watch,” international marketing director Stéphane Belmont says. “We also wanted to have a push button that could be retractable rather than a sliding bolt on the side, so if you don’t use the minute repeater the watch remains elegant, with the button concealed within the case.
“For the tourbillon, we invented the flying balance wheel. This floats on top of the tourbillon, and there’s nothing holding the balance from the top.” This saved space in the height, as a bridge would have increased the size of the watch.
“One other element that was important was to make it automatic, but without having the traditional rotor on the back, so we created our own winding system whereby the weight turns around the movement without being fixed in the centre.”
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