A brilliant inventor and self-taught watchmaker, Antoine-LeCoultre founded his first workshop in 1833, following the invention of a machine to produce watchmaking pinions. Ever since, the Manufacture Jaeger-Lecoultre has developed constantly around the founder's original workshops.
Surprisingly enough, it was neither a physicist nor an engineer who first measured the micron; it was Antoine LeCoultre, in 1844. He had created watch components that were so perfect no tool could actually detect their degree of inaccuracy. He followed that up by inventing the world's most accurate instrument: the Millionometer, which served as a benchmark for over half a century.
In 1847, LeCoultre created a revolutionary system that was to do away with the need for keys to rewind and set watches. His simple and brilliant solution was a pushbutton that activated a lever to switch from one function to another. It was the first keyless winding mechanism, and the first reliable system that eliminated the need for keys to wind or set a watch.
In 1866, when Swiss watchmaking was still structured around small home-run workshops, Antoine LeCoultre and his son Elie decided to bring together under one rood the many skills involved in making watches, and installed a steam-driven machine to operate their new tools. LeCoultre & Cie thus became the first Manufacture in the Vall?e de Joux.
It was in 1903 when the Parisian Edmond Jaeger set Swiss watchmakers the challenge of producing ultra-thin calibres. It would lead to the Calibre 145, the world's thinnest mechanical movement, measuring no more than 1.38 mm, and the friendship of Antoine LeCoultre's grandson, Jacques-Devid LeCoultre. These two men would give a rise to a range of horological wonders, and eventually the birth of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand in 1937.
In the year 1908, the Manufacture created its first rectangular-shaped calibre in response to the challenge created to miniaturize watches to wear on the wrist. By the "Roaring 20s" (1920s), very small ladies' wristwatches were all the rage, but extreme miniaturization always led to a loss of reliability and precision. The Duoplan brilliantly solved this problem by arranging its parts on split levels. It would lead to the world's smallest movement, Calibre 101. Outdoing the Calibre 145, Jaeger-Lecoultre miniaturized the Duoplan caliber to the extreme, weighing in at barely one gram and comprising of 74 parts. Its record is still unmatched to this date.
Since its founding, the Manufacture has created and produced over 1,000 different calibres in many varieties. Over 200 patented inventions have contributed to the progress of Swiss watchmaking in the field of movements, as well as that of cases, bracelets, dials, and watch functions.