Fine Jewellers George Pragnell of Stratford-upon-Avon presents a unique watch by Jaeger-LeCoultre to mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary celebrations
In 2016, the world celebrates the prolific work and unparalleled genius of the great English playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, in the year that marks the 400th anniversary of his passing in 1616. Deeply involved in the celebrations of this year, fine jewellers George Pragnell of Stratford-upon-Avon, collaborated with Jaeger-LeCoultre to explore what special piece could be created to mark this milestone. Stratford-upon- Avon, in Warwickshire, is the town where Shakespeare lived and wrote, and where the Royal Shakespeare Company is based.
All paths led to the Bard’s universally-acclaimed love story, Romeo and Juliet. Honouring the play of Shakespeare, the famous balcony scene (Act II, Scene 2) of Romeo and Juliet is enamelled on the dial of the Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater. The enamel miniature painting, inspired by British artist John Henry Frederick Bacon’s (1868-1914) interpretation, demanded precision, virtuosity and patience from the enamelling artist at the Manufacture, one of the few places in the world where this fine art tradition is carried out. While enamel is the triumph of colour over time, the Minute Repeater highlights the invention spirit as well as the expertise of the Maison in presenting traditional yet innovative complications. The result is a unique watch made exclusively for George Pragnell: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater Tribute to William Shakespeare.
Charlie Pragnell, Managing Director and owner of George Pragnell comments “It has been a wonderful year in Stratford-upon-Avon celebrating the great Bard. We are delighted with the watch we have created in concert with Jaeger-LeCoultre. It sounds as beautiful as it appears.”
Jaeger-LeCoultre UK Brand Director, Zahra Kassim-Lakha continued “we applaud the family and staff at George Pragnell for their long-standing contribution to the cultural heritage of Stratford-upon-Avon. In this collaboration, we were excited that Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary could be granted a melodious celebration, while showcasing the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmaking leadership and commitment to the furthering of Metiers Rares ®.”
A Minute Repeater for music lovers
A powerful, clear and melodious sound is the ultimate goal of every master watchmaker. Decades of research, combined with endless patience, are required to perform the tiny empirical, almost instinctive adjustments that are involved. The acoustic quality of a chiming watch is above all based on the gongs, which are essential in producing the sound that is amplified and enriched by the case. These are the elements that endow the timepiece with its distinctive tone and character.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed a crystal gong with a square section, made from a special secret alloy and machined all of a piece, thereby creating an extremely rich sound. In addition, the Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater is equipped with two patented trebuchet hammers that make a single and stronger strike on these crystal gongs whose heel is welded to the upper sapphire crystal. This ingenious device produces a loudspeaker effect that is the hallmark of the crystal gong.
The striking regularity is ensured by the silent regulator that controls the energy delivered by the barrel of the minute repeater. The energy of the spring is released in a constant stream, ensuring a tuneful and continuous chime. Nothing interferes with the listening pleasure: unlike the usual systems, this same silent regulator operates at just 20 decibels, a level verging on absolute silence. The steady emission of this meticulously orchestrated sound is thus unperturbed by any extraneous sound. This constant attention to details is a measure of the fervent enthusiasm that drives the engineers and artisans of the Manufacture.
The Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater is activated by a single push-button, redesigned in a slimmer guise, instead of the traditional slide system. A distinct improvement on classic minute repeaters, the pushbutton is equipped with a security system, avoiding the minute repeater to start again if it is already in action, thus preventing any damage to the movement.
This sophisticated complication is introduced in a version driven by a mechanical automatic movement. User friendliness is matched by the pleasure of admiring the finely crafted oscillating weight.
The hand-enamelled dial inspired by Bacon’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet endows the Master Grande Tradition Minute Repeater with exquisite romanticism mixed with horological classicism, which only well-mastered skills can put centre stage.