MISTERWATCH talks to Lionel Favre, Product Design Director Jaeger-LeCoultre
We talk directly to the creative mind behind the novelties presented by Jaeger-LeCoultre at the recent digital edition of Watches & Wonders. Lionel Favre is using creativity to obtain the perfect balance between tradition and innovation.
The story of Jaeger-LeCoultre goes back more than 200 years so shaping its future takes a lot of responsibility. The new collections presented at Watches & Wonders have all the magic ingredients that make the brand unique among the Swiss Made high level horology. Behind the creative team, we find Lionel Favre, a true watch passionate before being one of the most experienced professionals in the industry. He speaks freely about tradition, innovation and the great advantage of having your own Manufacture as a brand. Our exclusive interview follows below:
Passion for watches. How much is education and how much is vocation?
I have a passion for watches, even if I cannot indicate exactly, where it comes from. I assume it dates back to my childhood. The first thing you notice is the design and beauty of a watch, then you realize that there is a watchmaking culture behind. You become familiar with the different functions, with high complications as well as the rare handcrafts and all around the watchmaking tradition. Its comparable with wine. At the beginning you like sweet wine, but as your taste evolves, you prefer the more complex wines. And its similar with watchmaking – in the end you favor complexity.
How did your story with watches begin?
I am very lucky because my grandfather was a watchmaker. He had a very small watch shop where, during the summer, I used to help him to put the watches in the showcase. I have a lot of memories. I was totally fascinated by the mechanical watches. And this is for sure a reason, why I have a passion for watches today.
Where lies the strength of Jaeger-LeCoultre, from your point of view?
One of Jaeger-LeCoultres most important strengths is its history of 200 years, which gives the brand a strong watchmaking culture with a lot of expertise to produce extremely complex watches.
Another strength would be the value of the watches. The fact that we offer fine watchmaking– tradition, finishes, movement, beautiful cases – for an adequate price.
And a third strength comes in the form of the elegance of our products. The elegance of the DNA. It is a brand that always tries to create very refined watches, thin watches, beautiful proportions. It is the DNA of Jaeger-LeCoultre. And, in my opinion, these three elements give strength to the brand!
What was the starting point for the new Master Control collection?
We started from the point where we wanted to create a differentiation between Master Ultra Thin and Master Control. Master Ultra Thin is inspired by the pocket watches from the beginning of the last century. Master Control is a more casual watch with useful complications, like a Chronograph, a Memovox Alarm, or a Geographic with different timezones. So Master Control needs to be casual and easy to wear. This was the starting point. We have decided to create all the range, to create a new Master Control, a new Master Control with a thinner proportion that gives a lighter feeling and with new movements, revamped. The 899 is the base movement and our watchmakers have worked a lot to improve the reliability, the power reserve – that now is of 70 hours. The finishing of the movement is also very beautiful and the case speaks a sort of classic and well-proportioned design. Like you see when you look at the Master Control Chronograph Calendar. It is very interesting that the movement is fitted perfectly with the spirit of Master Control because you have the sportiness with the chronograph and the elegance with the moonphase. We launched the new Master Control Geographic with all the improvements of the movement and we launched the Master Control Date which is a very simple watch. What I like about it is the sort of minimalist design, very efficient, clear and easy to read. This was the idea behind the concept. And the last thing is that we have tried to work on many small details on the dial. We have applied many different types of finishes to give a tone in tone and very subtle feeling.
How do you transmit the message of a mechanical watch today?
Jaeger-LeCoultre has its own manufacture, which is very helpful for the production process. There is a direct communication between designers and engineers about new watches and new movements. Brands buying their movements from external suppliers, need to design the watch around the movements. We have the possibility to change details to create a perfect fit of movement and watch. Further we have the possibility to be more creative and to invest more into R&D in order to develop beautiful watches. Having an own manufacture supports you being truly authentic.
How do you like most about The Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication?
It’s a 3D, a sculptural watch. I think it is interesting to see that we can design something very elegant, traditional, well-balanced for Master Control. But, if we want to express our creativity, we are able to create some new watches with new technical features at a high-end level, like the new Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication. We developed a very impressive movement with many patents, not only in terms of mechanics, but also in terms of design, like the very particular structure of the dial. I like the fact that we used volume in a dial and that it is not flat. There is a deepness in the structure related to the deepness of the sky. There is something unique you can’t find in any other place! We have this particular 3D structure with an extremely thin and hard to produce dial. It is like a piece of jewellery, but it is a piece of jewellery that you need to put in a watch. So you need to have a lot of accuracy related to this.
The most challenging task when you work on a new model?
When we work on an iconic model, you have a lot of responsibilities. Many people worked on it before and built something unique during the past years. Sometimes you are a little bit afraid to make adjustments of elements because, some might not be happy with the change. You need to make decisions. If you work on an iconic model, I think, you have to respect the uniqueness and not change too much. You need to find a good way to conserve the spirit of the initial watch.
When you work on a new range, on a new model, not as iconic as the Reverso, you have a bit more flexibility. It is a different approach, so you need to be creative in a different way. Sometimes you need a lot of creativity in order to find the best details to be changed in an iconic model. Like the Reverso One. It’s new but at the same time it respects the feeling of the watch, the elegance of the Reverso. Originality is a part of creativity but it’s not the main part! Originality is good, but you need to create something beautiful. The harmony is very important and there are many things to take care of in order to make sure you have a beautiful product!
By Constantin Baches