Barely a week after the doors to the brand new Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique in Pavilion KL were opened to welcome customers into the impressive space, an informal yet highly informative private tour gave us an insight into the watchmaking world of this luxury Swiss watchmaker.
There was a lot to take in as the brand’s South-East Asia and Oceania managing director Maxence Kinget showed us around, pointing out some key displays in the boutique before we settled in the VIP room for a chat.
Kinget was only in Kuala Lumpur for a day, making this visit and exclusive interview all the more special. The brand’s strong relationship with clients, friends of the brand and partners in Malaysia through the decades has paved the way for the establishment of watch destinations (Kinget’s preferred term for boutiques or stores) such as this one, which house some of the most impressive timepieces ever made.
“This was the right time to bring to life a brand new destination. It’s all about emotion, discovery, unique objects, it’s about sharing, it’s about love and that’s what we want to create here,” Kinget explained.
“Nowadays, there are so many places where you can go and they look exactly the same. When you come in here you really can feel and enter a world of discovery through the different craftsmanship, different complications, different iconic designs. We wanted to create an amazing and unique watch destination in KL,” he added.
The new space, located right next to the centre court in Pavilion KL on Level 1, is also one of the biggest Jaeger-LeCoultre destinations in South-East Asia and houses some of the brand’s most prized pieces.
According to Kinget, Malaysian clients and friends of the brand are very knowledgeable on watches, making it a pleasure for the brand to cater to their passion for fine watchmaking.
“It’s a very cosy environment. We wanted it to be designed in a way where you can feel at ease. We wanted to invite all the people in love with fine watchmaking, who have an interest to know more about watches, to come to experience the Manufacture’s ideas,” said the Frenchman who has held several roles within the brand in several countries over the years.
“We have watches ranging from the more basic hours and minutes all the way to the high complications like the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie which chimes on your wrist in time with Big Ben in London. This is absolutely fascinating, one of the most unique pieces you’ll find on the planet,” Kinget said.
There are several timepieces that Kinget was excited to show us – pieces that are available in this very boutique – like the Master Control collection, a trilogy of watches celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Master line.
“This is a very cool watch. It’s the watch you want to wear when you’re driving, on holiday. It’s all about the experience, the pleasure of understatements, of having something on your wrist that the ones who know fine watchmaking will know what it’s about,” said Kinget.
Drawing on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s rich legacy of round watches, this year’s collection includes the Master Control Date, the Master Chronograph and the Master Geographic. At the heart of the Master collection is the “1000 Hours Control” in-house certification which is a series of radical tests over a span of six weeks to ensure that the watches are reliable.
For the ladies, Kinget brings up the Rendez-Vous collection, designed with sophisticated materials in muted and sparkling tones, introducing a moon phase and a new chiming reminder function, yellow and rose gold options, a larger size and sumptuous new straps.
Next on Kinget’s list, the Duomètre Sphérotourbillon, a magnificent watch that brings together technical performance, understated aesthetics and a very expressive watchmaking complication.
Using the Dual-Wing concept has enabled Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmakers to create a tourbillon with precision adjustment. The small seconds can be reset to zero according to the flyback principle by using a push-piece located under the tourbillon at 2 o’clock.
A particular feature of the flyback is that it does not stop the function of the regulating organ. The small seconds hand is reset, and immediately continues its course. As a result, the watch retains maximum precision, accurate to one second, even while the time is being set.
“The traditional tourbillon is precise for pocket watches, but we don’t wear them anymore, we wear wrist watches. To compensate for the effects of gravity in all positions of the wrist, an additional rotation axis must be added, so you will get perfect precision,” Kinget explained.
“This is the watch everybody is coming to see, the dual axis. We call it ‘flying’ because there is no bridge, there is no device holding the tourbillon from the top. People are telling me they don’t buy this watch for the time, they buy it to look at the device,” he chuckled.
The selection of fine watches isn’t the only thing in the boutique that Kinget is excited about. Another special feature is the Atelier Reverso, where customers can personalise the back of their Reverso watches with a design that is meaningful to them.
“The word atelier in French means workshop. We believe that everybody is unique. You have a unique opportunity here to do the personalisation of your choice on the back of your watch,” explained Kinget. “When you flip the Reverso, there’s a full rectangle which you can use for whatever idea you have – a reproduction of a painting, a tattoo, your initials, the shape of a child’s hands, a trip you made to a city you like, a date you want to remember forever …” he said.
“You’ll have a unique watch that is going to stay in your life, an object that will go along with you on your journey. There are very few objects that stay with you for life,” he added.
Kinget then flips his own Reverso, revealing an engraving of a car, the name of a place and a date.
“In 2004 I entered a rally from Paris to Morocco. We were working with Unesco to bring school items for kids in need. We had all the items in our cars – 200 cars – pens, paper, books, many things for the kids to learn and develop themselves in school,” he said, showing us pictures of himself with the children, the car he drove and views of Morocco and the Sahara desert.
“It was a real adventure. This is where you learn about freedom. There are no roads, no signage, no google maps, nothing,” Kinget recalled, nostalgia creeping into his voice. “I even put my name on the door of my car just for the sake of doing something cool, like a real race car driver. I brought the picture of the car to the engraver Dominique, based in Switzerland, and he engraved it on the back of my Reverso.
“This was something really meaningful to me. When I turn to look at it, I remember the amazing 15 days, and even getting lost in the desert,” he added, chuckling.
In addition to the impeccable craftsmanship, impressive complications and pure beauty of Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, it is this warm, nostalgic feeling that personalising your watch gives the wearer. A feeling money can’t buy.
That’s what Jaeger-LeCoultre is achieving with its personalisation service – a priceless memento, something that is completely unique, which to many watch wearers is the definition of pure luxury.
“To make one watch, there are 180 different jobs under one single roof,” said Kinget about the Manufacture. “One part of it is the engraver, done by one single gentleman. Anyone who wants to have personalisation on the back, they can come with their ideas, we’ll make a sketch of it. We may move forward or make modifications, this is something very unique. I encourage everyone to come to the team in KL and say: ‘I want to discover. Show me something I’ve never seen before’,” he added.
With all this talk on time, it seemed only appropriate to ask Kinget what his concept of time is and what it means to him.
“There is a fascination for the measurement of time. The whole idea of timing. Behind it there are many things. There’s the calendar, the months, years, the way that we look at the stars, the constellations, the sun, the moon, all those things were made for measuring time and today we are just looking at whatever device we have.”
His final word on the brand in Malaysia and his expectations for the new boutique is that he hopes customers will see it as a place with a welcoming environment, where enthusiasts can come and share their interest and passion for watches.
“Enter the world of discovery, elegance and beauty that Jaeger-LeCoultre can provide. Come and visit the boutique, get into a world which is very interesting and meaningful in terms of sense, design and craftsmanship,” he concluded.