1950's Design and Ideas of the Future : Futurematic
Often when people are discussing history they forget the importance of historical context , as in people's perceptions during that time , what drove their ambitions , ideas in the society they lived in at the time. The same could be said in today's vintage watch world collecting community where most of it is shallow and only hype and trends from Instagram and elsewhere. While most vintage watches are already discovered today in terms of the value and information online , there are still a few gems out there still underappreciated for what they are. You gotta dive deeper than looking for a basic overpriced vintage diver that you probably can't go to water anymore to find these gems today.
Today we are going talk about a watch that is very special to me , in the past I've owned 12 different variations of it , but this article will solely be on the U.S Market 14kt Solid Yellow Gold example I currently own.
Do you see ? No crown on either side of the case , could this be one of the most symmetrical round dress watches ever made? The time is changed by a unique sliding mechanism on the back.
If you ever get one of these watches you will also realize you cannot hand-wind them ever! in 1951 when the first Futurematics were manufactured over 80 percent of the watches in the market were still not automatic , yet the watchmakers at Jaeger LeCoultre being ahead of their time and also losing money in costly research had a vision for the future.... a world where most people will get so used to automatic watches that they will even start the watch by the movement of their wrist to power it or by shaking it only.
If you look very closely at the dial , you will see both subdials are the same size , but one subdial hand is just a little longer than the other. The running seconds hand is slightly longer , hitting and covering the non numeral stick indices perfectly each rotation , while the power reserve hand is shorter and makes the last 10 hour bar indicator more visible.. These are the aesthetics you wish today's microbrands had considering the CNC machined and generic parts they put all the time.
The caliber 497 found in Futurematics had several innovations , one of the most important being that when the watch was fully wound , the rotor would lock itself in via a hook for maximum efficiency and accuracy , a feature really only found today on a Richard Mille 030 called the "Declutchable Rotor".
The movement had hacking seconds and a hacking power reserve , while most watches in the market in 1951-52 did not have hacking seconds yet.
The movement of the watch would run when left without wearing the watch , until the last 6 hours where the balance will stop, save the remaining power reserve without letting the mainspring unwind fully, so once the wearer picks up the watch again , can start with power reserve.
To me the earlier futurematics with the glossy , gilt black dial still remain as a favorite dress watch even after having several confirmed discoveries and handling the most rare and special by the watch community. As equally innovative as it is , it is visually stunning. The pyramid indices, broad dauphine hands in bold gold , the emphasized LeCoultre font show the best of 1950's strong , elegant design . This is a watch you will never get tired of seeing with every angle of the case , lug having detail and not being rushed.