Blancpain once ran an ad campaign stating ‘Blancpain has never made a quartz watch and never will.’ That’s convenient, as the house had gone bankrupt well ahead of the quartz crisis and Biver only restarted production once mechanical watchmaking was trending back to strength. Jaeger Lecoultre, on the other hand, had some confused years. However, those confused years allowed Switzerland’s grande maison to claim continuous production, an ad campaign they were never boastful enough to run. Moreover, I find it rather telling that even in troubled times, JLC’s approach to quartz watchmaking was some of the most restrained and elegant of the lot.
The 145.8.31 was a quartz chronograph that gave the middle finger to every trend of its age. It was a petite 34mm, a true ultra-thin standard at 8mm, and housed a mecha-quartz (that is to say quartz base with a mechanical chronograph module) 25 jewel cal 630. As if that weren’t contentious enough, they even opted for the 4:30 date. The dial is one to remember with blued steel hands, gold indices, and crosshair subseconds. It may not be what you immediately think of when someone says Master Control, but the elegant mechanical line would not exist today had this mecha-quartz not carried the flag for those few dark years.
As a result of the iconoclast design, these are something of a value now. I can’t think of a comparable thin chronograph near 5K from a manufacture as lauded as Jaeger Lecoultre. The watches themselves were numbered but not limited. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded retailer. I tend to prize mechanics around these parts, but, even if for academic purpose, it’s always worth keeping an open mind.
Find this 145.8.31 here from Belmont Watches for 4000 USD.