In Great Britain, this weekend marks the official celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday. To join in this we recall the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 which the Queen wore as a diamond-set timepiece for her Coronation in 1953.
The Calibre 101 has evolved throughout the Queen’s lifetime, having been created in 1929 in the workshops of Jaeger’s manufacturer. The 1920s and 30s marked a time in creativity of cultural and artistic effervescence, technical progress and social emancipation. In 1924 Jaeger introduced its famous Duoplan movement combining daintiness and precision, which led on to the creation of the Calibre 101. The aim was to miniaturise the Duoplan movement without compromising its reliability, a feat that seemed impossible. However, Jaeger succeeded and by doing so the Calibre 101 was born.
To this day it remains the smallest mechanical movement ever to have been created. The size of the movement encapsulates delicacy and femininity allowing for the in-house designers to produce mesmerising and unique jewellery versions, each one celebrating the unity between high-jewellery and high-horology. Hence, the Calibre 101 lent itself to being the perfect movement for The Queen to wear on the most momentous occasion of her reign –and arguably her lifetime: her Coronation.
Since her Coronation it is believed that that particular Calibre 101 she wore on the day has gone missing, however not before it was serviced by watchmaker and friend of Revolution, Peter Roberts. Peter once told our editor at large Ken Kessler about how, at all of 23 year old, whilst working at Garrards, the Queen’s equerry came in requesting that her Jaeger 101 be serviced in order for her to be able to wear it the very next day. Instead of being left in peace to work on the smallest movement in history, one with which there is absolutely no room for error, Peter was under the pressure of doing it there and then under the watchful glare of the equerry peering over his shoulder. Fortunately the servicing went very well and Peter, as was custom at the time when watchmakers serviced watches, carved his initials into the back of the case. If someone ever discovers a Jaeger Calibre 101 with the initials ‘PR’ carved into the back of the case, we know who it belongs to.
In 2012, to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Jaeger-LeCoultre presented The Queen with a new 101 Jaeger creation. The Calibre 101, just as the Queen, has broken records since its conception in the 1920s, no wonder it can be considered the perfect accompaniment to the noblest of wrists and a feat worth celebrating once more this weekend for Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.