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Only a few brand names come instantly to mind when the talk turns to vintage pilots watches. Among those names, Jaeger LeCoultre often stands apart, their spartan time-only watches setting the bar for every aviation watch that would follow.
During WWII, JLC was producing timepieces to aid the war effort, some of their most notable efforts came in the late 1940s. The Mark XI, the aviator's watch built to fill British Ministry of Defense contracts beginning in 1947, is a hallmark of this era - a time when manufactures were still producing military-grade watches with movements as beautiful as they were reliable. Accurate to within 4 seconds, the Calibre 488, which was JLC's movement of choice for the the Mark XI, is an horological masterpiece and one of the few chronometer-grade movements to be produced in the 1940s and 50s.
While the Mark XI gets a lot of time in the limelight of enthusiasts and collectors, JLC's earlier Mark Series watches rarely get the same attention. The Mark VII and Mark VIIA, which JLC produced from 1940 to 1948, were veritable tool watches and made their way onto many British and Allied pilots. These war-time pieces were driven by the Calibre 470, a sturdy and very accurate precursor to the movement used in the Mark XI.
This particular piece, a Reference 2982B, which falls in between the Mark VII and the Mark XI, was produced in 1946 and is driven by the Calibre P478, a venerable workhorse movement that would find its way into the original Geophysic Chronometer a decade later.
With its 33.5mm chromium-plated case, brushed silver dial with Arabic numerals, Feuille-style blued-steel luminescent hour and minute hands with matching blued-steel sweep hand, the Reference 2982B is quintessentially Military in appearance. And, with an Extract from the Archives of Jaeger LeCoultre verifying its complete authenticity, this one should be on the radar of anyone looking for an enjoyable piece of horological (and aviation!) history.
Chromium-plated case is approximately 33.5mm (excluding crown). JLC Calibre P478 Manually-Winding movement. 1946.
Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition throughout with wear marks to the case and case back consistent with age and use. The brushed silver dial is in outstanding original condition. Luminous material on the Arabic numerals has patinated to a dark brown. Burn marks on the dial from the original Radium hands can be seen pointing to 8:00 and 4:00. Original blued-steel Feuille hands are aged to a gorgeous even dark cream color. Unsigned crown and case back.
Includes two 16mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle. Also includes an Extract from the Archives of JLC.
*The original crystal has been left on this watch. It does have a crack near 1:00. Crystal can be replaced for an additional cost upon request.