LE COULTRE FUTUREMATIC
Within the name-sensitive collecting fraternity, Futurematic is up at the top. It conjures up all the best of 1950s retro-cool. Today, every major collection has to have an example of the Futurematic.
In 1951, Jaeger Le Coultre launched their Futurematic model. This was the world’s first self-winding watch without a crown to wind the mainspring, and at the same time still incorporated their power-reserve system.
Item description: A beautiful automatic Le Coultre Futurematic power-reserve timepiece, dating from the 1950s. This being the initial E501 model dating from the launch of the model. This distinctive timepiece features a very pleasing case design with steeped lugs. Complementing the case, is a tu-tone matt champagne dial with stylised gold applied battons, and the brand name, Le Coultre. Directly below the Company name, is the model name Futurematic. The dial has a sunken power-reserve indicator at the 9.0 clock position, along with a 60 second indicator at 3.0 clock. The typical high quality Le Coultre movement is an automatic, and is a so-called ‘bumper’ movement, much desired by collectors. The inside of the case-back with 10K gold-filled designation, along with serial numbers. The watch has a pleasant stitched tan lizard strap, along with a non-branded gold finished buckle.
Size: 45mm x 35mm
Condition report: Case in excellent condition with a nice polished finish remaining (free from major scratches or other damage). Dial original and with a beautiful aged patination. Movement clean. Recently fully overhauled, and in fully functioning condition. The strap and buckle remaining in excellent condition. The timepiece has been opened, so it should not be used near moisture or water without being checked by a qualified watchmaker.
Background to Jaeger Le Coultre: Jaeger-LeCoultre was founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833, setting up a workshop in the village of Le Sentier. LeCoultre invented a machine to cut watch pinions from steel in 1833, and ten years later invented the world’s most precise measuring instrument of the time, the Millionometer. In 1847, LeCoultre had created a keyless system to rewind and set watches, and four years later was awarded a gold medal for his work on Timepiece Precision and Mechanization at the first Universal Exhibition in London.
By 1870, LeCoultre employed 500 people and was known as the “Grande Maison of the Vallée de Joux”, and by 1900, it had created over 350 different calibres, of which 128 were equipped with chronograph functions and 99 with repeater mechanisms. From 1902 and for the next 30 years, LeCoultre & Cie. produced most of the movement blanks for Patek Philippe of Geneva.
The company are particularly remembered for their Reverso watch, where the case is hinged allowing the dial to be hinged to the inside of the outer case, thus protecting it. The Reverso was liked by many sports personalities, and had a following in the world of Polo. Le Coultre are also remembered for their famous Atmos Clock, with its virtually perpetual movement.
Special notes: Jaeger Le Coultre developed the power reserve system for watches in 1948, bringing out their calibre 481 with PR in that same year. The watch was an instant success and was sold throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Put simply, the wearer could power up the watch by winding it, and at the same time could see how much power they had put into the watch via the small power reserve indicator set just below the 12.0 position. When the watch had no power left in it, the indicator would show red, thus showing the wearer the watch need winding. The launch of the Futurematic in 1951 was another world’s first. A watch without crown to wind the main spring. The so-called back-wind system was licensed out to various manufacturers. Even the elite firm, Patek Philippe, brought out their own version of Jaeger Le Coultre’s back-wind system.
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