The LeCoultre family traces its history in Switzerland to 1558, when Pierre LeCoultre immigrated from France, then moved to the Vallee de Joux the following year. After his son built a church in the valley, a town grew and eventually became the home of today’s JLC company. The first LeCoultre watchmaking workshop was founded in 1833, following Antoine LeCoultre’s invention of a machine that increased the production of small watch parts. Antoine’s son gradually brought together the hundreds of small workshops in the area by installing a steam-driven power source in 1866. With that access to power, LeCoultre gathered into one building all the skills necessary to produce a watch, after which the building became known as the “Grande Maison of the Vallee de Joux.” From the Grande Maison came smaller and more complex movements that were also used by other watchmakers, including Patek Philippe.
The LeCoultre company began the transition to the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmaking company in 1903, when a Parisian watchmaker named Edmond Jaeger issued a challenge to Swiss watchmakers to produce an ultrathin movement that he had invented. LeCoultre successfully meet the challenge with the caliber 145, which allowed Edmond Jaeger to sign a contract with Cartier (the “Jeweler of Kings, King of Jewelers”) to give Cartier exclusive access to Jaeger’s watch movements for the next fifteen years, movements that were produced by LeCoultre. The collaboration proved so successful that in 1937, the two watchmakers formed the Jaeger-LeCoultre company. Since the Grande Maison first began producing watches, JLC has created more than 1200 calibers. They continue to advance the art of watchmaking with complications that power some of the world’s finest watches.