My Cart

Close

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Alternatives - The Best Affordable and Homage Watches

Posted on October 11 2020

JLC Master Control Date Alternatives

 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date is a classic dress watch. A restrained and straight forward piece that conceals the technical brilliance within. It’s slim, highly legible and has a timeless style that belies its relatively short history. It’s a luxury watch with a stunning inhouse movement. The latest model will cost you £6000, so it’s not a watch we can all own.


A Brief History of Jaeger-LeCoultre

 

JLC, as it’s known, is a Swiss watch brand with a history stretching back to mid-1800s. It’s now a subsidiary of Richemont - the owner of Panerai, Baume and Mercier, Cartier, IWC and others.

With nearly 200 years of trading, it is unsurprising that the company has a string of patents, innovations, and in that time has launched over a thousand movements. From the beginning, founder Antoine LeCoultre, was at the cutting edge of watchmaking. Having excelled at watchmaking - winning the gold medal at London’s Universal Exhibition - he then set up one of the world’s first watchmaking factories. By the early 1900s they had produced hundreds of calibres and were supplying movements to Patek Phillipe, Cartier and others.

The brand is celebrated for a number of popular models. These include the rectangle Reverso, a watch that can be turned around to protect the dial, and the Atmos clock - a near-perpetual timepiece.

 

The JLC Master Collection


Central to the Master collection is simplicity of design, a round watch case and an extreme focus on precision. The name for the collection comes from their ‘1000 hour test’. This involves a series of tests, of both movements and finished watches, to guarantee the quality and precision.

My favourite from the range - the Master Control Date - is the epitome of these tenets.

When first released in 1992, the Master Control Date was designed to represent classic watchmaking. Hence the paired down style, slim profile and hidden technology. It’s not obvious that the watch has passed the 1000 hour test - the design is understated and without excessive text on the dial.

The current model has a round 40mm case with neat lugs. The silver dial is restrained and has numbers at 12, 6 and 3. There are a small date window and silver dauphine hands. The blue second hand adds a small touch of flair. It’s a slim watch with a thickness of under 9mm, achieved through the use of their own thin calibre 899 automatic movement.

A watch like this may be out of reach of many watch fans. The question then becomes - are there more affordable alternatives? Other classic dress watches with a similar style and size? Below are my suggestions for possible alternatives - each a good watch in its own right and good value for money.

 

Sea_Gull 816.351 Automatic Watch

 

When I was after a homage JLC watch, I picked up a Sea-Gull M177S. It is a beautiful watch from China’s biggest watch manufacturer (more about the Chinese watch industry here).

That model was discontinued a few years ago and this current model is its updated and upgraded replacement. Just a cursory glance makes it clear that this watch was inspired by the JLC. It’s the only watch on this list that can really be described as a homage.

At 39mm it’s near enough the same size as the Master Control, but as expected it’s slightly thicker. One of the JLC’s selling points after all is the thinness of the watch - due partly to the very slim movement. The Sea-Gull doesn’t have that movement, but it is powered by an in-house calibre.

My M177S had a mineral crystal, but this newer model has improved on that and uses a sapphire crystal. If you want a look-a-like, then of all the watches on the list, this is probably the place to start.

  • Sea-Gull 816.351
  • 39mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sea-Gull Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Citizen NJ0110-18A Automatic Dress Watch

 

This watch was recently featured in my post here about Citizen’s automatic range. It’s not a direct homage to the JLC, although it clearly takes some strong design cues. The case, at 40mm, and the general feel of the watch is similar. It’s clean, uncluttered and simple - without being minimalist. Where the JLC has a blue second hand, Citizen has gone with blue for each of the hands.

The markers are alike, with Citizen aiming for more symmetry on the dial with the exclusion of the number 9 numeral. It’s a really attractive watch that, like the JLC, has a well established, classic design. It has an exhibition back that displays the gold pvd movement, again made in-house.

  • Citizen NJ0110-18A
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota 8210 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Victorinox Alliance 241871 Dress Watch

 

Victorinox isn’t a brand that I’ve featured much on this blog. Maybe that is because the company is primarily known as the world’s biggest producer of pocket knives. Its most famous being the Swiss Army Knife.

Although the company was founded in the late 1800s, their entry into the watch market has been much more recent. The idea being to take advantage of their internationally recognised brand image and their location near the Swiss watch industry.

It’s no surprise that they have a number of rugged, military style watches. This Alliance model is a departure from that. It’s less elegant than the JLC. Rather than being a direct homage, this model just has some features in common with the Master Control.

The case is similar. As are the hands and numerals. The textured dial, however, gives the watch a slightly more rugged touch. And there isn’t the colourful second hand.

It does have good specifications, with the highlight being the Swiss-made ETA automatic movement - it’s visible through the case back and has a customised rotor.

  • Victorinox Alliance 241871
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • ETA Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Dress Watch

 

Tissot, like many Swiss watch brands, can trace their watchmaking roots back to the 1800s. I’ve described Certina as an entry-level Swiss brand and that description fits Tissot too. They’re a popular high street name that targets that price point between a couple of hundred pounds and the £1000 mark.

The Gentleman model is in the middle of that price range and come in a number of dial and strap combinations. This silver dial with brown leather strap variation is the nearest to the Master Control Date.

The case is very close to the JLC, as are the hands, date window and crown. The lack of numerals and the shape of the applied markers give the watch enough of its own character to remain interesting in its own right.

The slightly blocky case houses a Powermatic 80 movement, that I previously mentioned here. It’s a Swiss engine made by ETA that has an 80 hour power reserve and a silicon hairspring.

The Tissot is a great design that adds just a touch of a sports watch aesthetic, similar to the Rolex Explorer I. It’s a good choice if you do find the JLC a little too dressy.

  • Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.5mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Powermatic 80 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Orient Bambino V5 Automatic Dress Watch

 

Every couple of articles I mention that I mention Orient in every couple of articles. Fresh off the back of doing a piece about Orients Tri-Star range I’m highlighting another of their watches.

You’re probably quite familiar with the history of this Japanese brand, which is now a part of the Seiko group.

The Bambino is one of their popular models and has been released as a number of generations and versions. This particular model is from the 5th generation of the watch. Some are minimalist and almost Bauhaus in style, but this feels like more of a classic dress watch.

Again, it is in no way a homage to the JLC. It’s an Orient watch, and as such, part of the Bambino’s lineage. The case is round, the dial silver and the hands are blue. So the similarities are there. But there are no numbers and a thinner bezel which do alter the styling somewhat from the Master Control. Where the Tissot felt like a beefed up version of the JLC, this feels like it’s been trimmed down.

Having said that, the case is actually slightly wider and thicker than the JLC and this model has a bracelet rather than a lighter leather strap. Still, the impression is of a more subtle piece.

  • Orient Bambino 5 RA-AC0005S10B
  • 41mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Orient Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

Meccaniche Veneziane Redentore Dress Watch

 

Meccaniche Veneziane made quite a splash on Kickstarter, funding one of their watches in 30 seconds. They’re among, if not the most successful, crowd-funded Italian brand. They state that their inspiration is the Venetian tradition and the brand’s logo is based on the cross from St Mark’s Clock Tower.

The watch designs are each inspired by Italy and all of their collections are automatics. Leather straps are handmade in Italy and the brand stresses the ethical side of the business (more about ethical watches).

The Redentore collection is inspired by the church designed by Andrea Palladio and powered by the MV145 calibre. This is Meccaniche Veneziane’s automatic movement based on Seiko’s NH35 base.

Aiming to reflect the Church’s design, the Redentore watches are classic in styling. The case, and to a degree the dial, are more contemporary than the JLC. The general character of the Master Control is in evidence - particularly the bold blue hands. The larger lugs and addition of crown guards do add some of the brands own styling, which again results in a watch that is of a similar style to the JLC without mimicking the design.

  • Meccaniche Veneziane Redentore
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Caliber MV145 Automatic movement
  • Domed Sapphire Crystal

 

Hamilton Thin-o-matic Dress Watch

 

Hamilton is a brand that I regularly feature on the blog (see here). With a strong history and involvement in producing watches for the military and railroads, I often find that they release watches that appeal to me. It’s no surprise that when looking at dress watches that there’s a Hamilton model that caught my eye - the cool-sounding Thin-O-Matic.

Of the watches featured here, it’s one of the nearest to the JLC’s design. The case, hands, indices and crown are all similar. It’s also Swiss-made.

If I didn’t already own the Sea-Gull, then this would be my favoured JLC alternative. There’s a great brand history, Swiss manufacturing and movement, and the JLC design that I enjoy so much.

  • Hamilton American Classic Thin-O-Matic H38715581
  • 41mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • ETA 2824-2 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

 

Conclusion

 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Date is a classic watch in each sense of the word. It’s both a classically styled dress watch and an outstanding design. The technical aspects are equally as impressive and the result is a sought-after watch, unfortunately out of reach of many of its fans.

This style of dress watch has also been popular with other manufacturers, many with much more affordable prices. If you want a direct homage there are a couple, and if it’s the general aesthetic that appeals to you, then there are a number of very affordable quality watches to choose from.

If you’ve any additions, let me know in the comments.

 

 

Related Posts

The 7 Best Junkers German Watches (Bauhaus and Aviation Models)
The 7 Best Junkers German Watches (Bauhaus and Aviation Models)
  Junkers is a German brand that produces affordable quartz and mechanical watches. Their collections tend to be focu...
Read More
The 7 Best Rolex Kermit Affordable Alternatives
The 7 Best Rolex Kermit Affordable Alternatives
The Rolex ‘Kermit’ is a green variation of the Submariner. It was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this ...
Read More
The 10 Best Ingersoll Watches - A Buyers Guide
The 10 Best Ingersoll Watches - A Buyers Guide
Ingersoll is a well-known watch brand that has been continuously producing watches since the late 1880s. Their histor...
Read More
The 7 Best Raketa Watches - A Guide to the Famous Russian Brand
The 7 Best Raketa Watches - A Guide to the Famous Russian Brand
Raketa is one of the few watch brands in the world to produce its own watches from start to finish. They’re also a br...
Read More
The 10 Best Sturmanskie Russian Watches (Watches Worn in Space by Cosmonauts)
The 10 Best Sturmanskie Russian Watches (Watches Worn in Space by Cosmonauts)
Sturmanskie is a Russian watch company that has supplied the Russian military with timepieces. In the West, watch fan...
Read More
Rolex Submariner Hulk - The Affordable Alternatives
Rolex Submariner Hulk - The Affordable Alternatives
The ‘Hulk’ is one of the most popular variations of Rolex's iconic divers watch, the Submariner. It’s so desirable th...
Read More

0 comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing