Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re diving into two of my favorite dressy references, and two pieces that share a bit more than a passing resemblance in common: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control and the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie.

In the world of dress watches, there are a few constants, and the most important is that, when it comes to case size and dial configuration, they really are meant to be exercises in minimalism, reducing the watch to its most basic function – telling the time and, maybe, the date. There are a number of different ways to accomplish this, and you can play around with things such as case metals and dial colors, but the general theme is very bauhaus inspired (i.e., everything you need, nothing you don’t).

Now let’s get into the watches we’re going to compare. We’ll start with the JLC. The Master Control Date, specifically, features a 39mm stainless steel case, a beautifully blued seconds hand to compliment the polished silver dauphine hands at center, along with a matte navy blue crocodile strap. It runs the JLC in-house caliber 899/1, and automatic winding, 32 jewel movement that beats at 28,800 bph and is a mere 3.3mm thick.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date ref. 1548420
Source: HODINKEE

Next up, we have the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie. This piece comes in stainless steel (as well as other case materials, but we’re going to focus on the steel version for this comparison), with a case size of 40mm and a height of 7.65mm. It features a very similar dial layout to the JLC, except this piece places its date aperture at the 6 o’clock position instead of the 3 o’clock. It runs the automatic winding Montblanc MB 24.09 caliber, which runs at 28,800 bph and contains 25 jewels. The strap is black alligator leather, and terminates in a signed Montblanc pin buckle.

Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie ref. 112533
Source: Montblanc

So look, when it comes to deciding which one you prefer visually, it largely comes down to just pure, subjective taste. There’s no avoiding the striking visual similarities between these two pieces, but they each have a bit of their own character (see: the JLC’s hour markers being more arrowhead shaped compared to the Montblanc’s more straight versions). On that front, it’s a bit of a toss up depending on which you like more. But…

When we get into price, things intensify. The JLC Master Control Date retails for $6,350, while the Montblanc retails for $2,515 (both before taxes are included). That’s a pretty massive price difference for what visually are very similar and equally functional dress watches. Now, the JLC seems to be going for a bit closer to the $4,500 preowned, while the Montblanc seems to be hovering pretty close to its retail price preowned. It shortens the differential a bit, but there is still the matter of the brand itself.

Montblanc makes some incredible watches (see: the Orbis Terrarum), but they don’t necessarily have the storied history that Jaeger-LeCoultre does. JLC has become known as the “Watchmaker’s watchmaker,” a brand that seems to exist solely to please their contemporaries and show the world what real watchmaking is like. Montblanc, to the uninitiated, is most well known for making pens. So really, it isn’t much a question of whether JLC earns their premium, because we know the lengths they go to as a brand to be the best at what they do, but whether that premium is worth it to you when it comes down to a simple dress watch designed to help you keep it classy, watchfam.