In September 2023, Jaeger-LeCoultre will present The Dream Shaper exhibition at the Dubai Mall boutique showcasing a fascinating collection that celebrates the profound influence that women have had on the aesthetic of time and the ways in which it is worn.
Tracing the eternally captivating story of feminine style through more than 150 years of historic women’s watches, and showcasing Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most recent feminine timepieces, the exhibition is an invitation to discover how women’s evolving tastes and social roles have shaped the dream of timekeeping’s limitless possibilities. It reveals the myriad ways in which these possibilities have been interpreted by our Manufacture’s designers, watchmakers and artistic craftsmen.
Over the centuries, social evolution has brought not only an endless parade of changing fashions but also major shifts in the way femininity itself is defined. Through this process of continual change, watches developed specifically for women have married technical sophistication, creative design and aesthetic beauty in countless different ways – reflecting fashions, setting trends and embodying women’s evolving needs and desires. Contrary to commonly held assumptions, it was women who wore the first wristwatches, before men adopted the style in the 1920s.
Thanks to the pioneering spirit of its founder, LeCoultre & Cie had begun creating watches for both men and women at an early stage. For women, the Manufacture immediately understood the immense aesthetic and technical potential of timepieces that could also be worn as jewels and accessories. When Edmond Jaeger and Jacques-David LeCoultre started their collaboration early in the 20th century, marrying Jaeger’s French flair to LeCoultre’s Swiss expertise, they quickly realised that the wider adoption of the wristwatch would revolutionise the entire industry in both stylistic and technical terms – literally changing the shape of watchmaking.
Immersing visitors in the creative and cultural universe of Jaeger-LeCoultre, The Dream Shaper exhibition explores the theme of femininity at La Grande Maison in four chapters: Decoration, Shapes, Miniaturisation and Complications.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, watches were rare and powerful status symbols and, therefore, made from precious materials and embellished with engravings, enamel, miniature paintings and gemstones. By the early 20th century, wristwatches were recognised as the most useful piece of jewellery a woman could own. Two exquisite pieces dating from around 1900 are among those that showcase La Grande Maison’s exceptional heritage of artistic craftsmanship: a very early wristwatch created by LeCoultre & Cie, in yellow gold set with rubies and diamonds, and a pendant watch in a blue-enamelled gold case set with an intricate pattern of diamonds. The revival of fine mechanical watchmaking since the 1990s has brought with it a renaissance of the artistic crafts and, today, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s feminine watches unite ‘beauty and brains’ – marrying outer ornamentation with inner technical magic.
As women increasingly wore wristwatches, a new realm of creative possibility opened up – with time expressed in the form of rectangles, squares, ovals and trapezoids, as well as traditional round shapes. Given that its approach to product integrity implied that the form of a movement must closely follow the contours of its case, La Grande Maison became a specialist in so-called ‘shaped’ calibres. In 1925, coinciding with the birth of Art Deco, the rectangular Duoplan calibre was born. Built on two levels (hence its name), fusing technicality and style, it allowed designers greater aesthetic flexibility than ever before – as clearly illustrated by the models exhibited, including an early Duoplan piece from the 1920s. Six years after Duoplan, the Reverso was born. Offered in distinctly feminine variations alongside the classic dimensions, its instantly recognisable rectangular case was to become a design icon of the 20th century and remains timelessly modern to this day, with the double-sided Duetto and the classical Monoface.
Since the early 1500s, when clocks were first reduced to a portable size, watchmakers have devoted great effort to inventing ever-smaller mechanisms – wrestling with the challenge of maintaining timekeeping accuracy while reducing size. While the Duoplan movement solved this problem, La Grande Maison continued its pursuit of extreme miniaturisation, introducing Calibre 101 in 1929. Conceived for jewellery watches, it weighed barely one gram and measured just 14mm long, 4.8mm wide and 3.4mm thick. Its record as the world’s smallest mechanical movement still stands today. Alongside current examples of Calibre 101 that showcase Jaeger-LeCoultre’s exceptional expertise in miniature watchmaking, exhibits include a Calibre 101 Feuille from 1959 – a secret watch with a leaf-shaped cover that can be lifted to reveal the time – and a Calibre 101 Reine from 1982, inspired by the movement in the watch worn by Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her coronation in 1953.
Women’s fascination with horological complications dates back hundreds of years and, since the earliest days of the Manufacture, La Grande Maison has been distinguished by its expertise in developing mechanisms with many functions beyond simply telling the time. Beginning with its earliest complication in a women’s pendant watch in 1910 – a minute repeater – the Manufacture has fused functionality and aesthetics to create distinctively feminine expressions of the classical complications such as calendars and moon-phases – as well as entirely new complications specifically for women. Examples, showcased in the exhibition, include a 1948 “mystery” watch, with the time indicated by diamond-set chatons that appear to float around the dial, and the Carnet de Rendez-Vous from 1991. The inspiration for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 21st-century Rendez-Vous collection, it was itself inspired by the 5PM that Jaeger-LeCoultre designed in the 1950s. Today, with their enthusiasm for complicated calibres stronger than ever, women continue to inspire La Grande Maison’s eternal quest for innovation.
Over the centuries, women have been influencing time by inspiring revolutions and evolutions that have transformed watchmaking forever. Through this exhibition we celebrate these dream-shapers, showcasing some of the most exceptional creations from our Manufacture, conceived and created explicitly for women.
The Dream Shaper exhibition will take place at Dubai Mall boutique till the 24th of September 2023. Guests can book their slot on: Jaeger-LeCoultre - Atelier - THE DREAM SHAPER EXHIBITION