Behind the Scenes at Jaeger-LeCoultre

Countless details go into a high-end watch, from the design of mechanical movements to the proprietary blends of metals that give a gold case its unique hue. Swiss luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre is no stranger to highly complex movements and precious metals. In fact, it’s known for adding another layer of refinement to its timepieces in the form of traditional crafts like grand feu enamelling, miniature painting, and restoration of vintage movements.

As one of the leaders in the revival of these age-old techniques, Jaeger-LeCoultre counts no less than 180 different watchmaking crafts practiced at its Manufacture in the Vallée de Joux. A new series of videos highlights a few of them, from design and production of movements to hand-finishing and decoration of dials and cases. Together, they form a fascinating and intimate look behind the scenes at one of the world’s foremost watchmakers. The only way to get closer is to sign up for one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s in-house Master Classes.


Among the many invisible arts that go into watchmaking, polishing is as crucial as it is highly underrated. In this video, one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s artisans details the extensive training and precision required to give the Reverso’s stainless steel case its combination of brushed and polished surfaces. There are some surprising reveals here, like the fact that polishers must practice for two years to operate the Maison’s lathes and that they operate them in the near-dark, working by feel to attain the necessary results. After watching this, you may never look at a watch case the same way again. 


The design of Jaeger-LeCoutre’s Reverso provides a unique opportunity for the watchmaker to decorate the watch’s case in elaborate ways. Since the case is designed to swivel (an innovation created to protect the watch face from impacts on the polo field) the case back remains protected from the wearer’s skin and from the elements, and can therefore be decorated with elaborate miniature artworks. This video reveals how the Maison’s master enamelers use equal parts art and science to create pieces like the ones in the Reverso “Hidden Treasures” series, which feature tiny reproductions of masterworks by Klimt, Van Gogh and Courbet on their case backs. 


Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of few watchmakers with an in-house restoration program, in which vintage watches – some more than a century old – are lovingly restored to original condition and offered for sale as a capsule collection. This video describes the great lengths to which the brand’s skilled restoration team will go to return the watch to its former glory, from hand-making replacement parts on 19th-century machines to cleaning and polishing each screw. Each of the many steps involved in restoration requires a level of skill and a depth of knowledge that takes many years to acquire, making Jaeger-LeCoultre’s restoration specialists among the most skilled artisans of all.