For sale we have a circa 1950 mid-century-modern designed US market Le-Coultre watch. It is a neat little rectangular case, with peaked front and flared lugs. It has a facetted crystal which is eye catching and original. The silver dial has a waffle finish with applied dot hour markers and thick baton 3-hour markers. The case has a peaked centre which matches with the profile of the facetted crystal. The lugs flare outwards and are also a neat touch. This watch encapsulates the mid-century modern style and trends in US watch design in the 1950s. Whilst the European market was much more restrained in terms of its taste, the US market desired flare and opulent design. This is not a Le-Coultre you would have seen anywhere else.
The case is 10k gold filled, which is a traditional US casing. Inside it is marked as ‘cased and timed in the U.S.A by LeCoultre. The movement is the tonneau shaped calibre 438/4. Variations of this calibre were the bedrock of LeCoultres art deco designs, included in watches such as the Reverso. It has been recently serviced.
The lack of Jaeger signing and the casing in the US were all ways of operating in the market whilst avoiding import duties. The Le-Coultre only dials for the US market were produced from the mid 1930s, up until the mid 1970s.
The US import tariffs were high to protect US watch companies. To avoid this, Jaeger Le-Coultre provided only movements and dials to the market, with cases manufactured locally in traditional US manners. This begins to explain the very different designs to the European market. The movement is marked VXN, which was the US import code. They were imported by the Longines-Wittnauer company under their Vacheron & Constantin-LeCoultre division.
This is an affordable and elegant dress watch from the renown brand LeCoultre, with the flare and mid-century modern design that the US market enjoyed.
Full condition report below. Please see the images as these compliment and aid the description provided below.
The dial is original and is in decent condition. It has a waffle finish. There is some wear to the silver tone at the edge. The applied hour markers are original and have slight scratching. The signing is clear.
The hands are original, in a gold tone. They have some slight scratching associated with ageing.
The bevelled crystal is original and is in good condition with no noticeable marks.
The crown is original and is in good condition, functioning as it should.
The 10k yellow gold-filled case is in decent original condition with a polished finish. It has light surface scratching and some wear to the plating on the tips of the lugs.
The case back is 10k gold filled and is in good condition. It has a brushed finish with light surface scratching. The signing is clear and unworn.
The watch comes on a new 16mm strap with metal tabs for fixed lugs.
The movement is a Le-Coultre cal 438.4CW. It is a 17-jewel manual wind movement with sub-second. It has a frequency of 18,000 BPH.
The watch has been recently serviced and is keeping time to within minus 1 and a half minutes a day.
Case width: 24.5mm
Case width with crown: 26mm
Case length: 29mm
Case length lug to lug: 41mm
Case Depth: 11mm
Lug width: 16mm
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