Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic Cal.481 1949
100% Genuine & All Original
Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed
A Very Well Cared For and Completely Original Example
Beautiful Original, Unrestored and Untouched Ivory-Cream Dial
High Grade JLC Cal.481, Manual Wind Movement in Top Condition
Good Size Stainless Steel Case with Fancy Lugs, 34mm Excluding the Crown
High Quality Black Alligator Strap with Matching Plain Steel Buckle
All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition
Hardwood Presentation Box Included, As Shown
VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*
VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee
Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery
Free UK Special Delivery
Since its founding in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has had a highly inventive history, developing over 1,249 mechanical calibres, registering over 400 patents and playing a tremendous role in the development of the industry as a whole. Whether it is the world’s first keyless watch, its Calibre 101, the Futurematic, the Memovox, or the iconic Reverso, it would be difficult to imagine a historical account of watchmaking without the mention of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
It is not commonly known that Jaeger-LeCoultre, in addition to producing movements for its own watches, has also produced movements for a number of famous watch houses such as Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and IWC. Indeed for most of the 20th Century, Jaeger-LeCoultre even supplied bare movements to the great firm of Patek Philippe. The company has always been a true ‘Manufacturer’ of the finest quality watch movements and Jaeger-LeCoultre has always manufactured all its own movements. This is unusual because very often, high-end brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin would buy in movements for particular needs. For example, in 1967 when Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin needed an ultra-thin automatic movement, it was to Jaeger-LeCoultre they turned, to produce one for them. Furthermore, the exquisite Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 920, is still in production and in use today by both Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.
It is becoming popular again for watch manufacturers to include a ‘Power Reserve Indicator’** on some of their more sophisticated automatic watches – and fantastically useful they are too – in allowing one to know when a watch is running low on power. This helps to avoid unnecessary winding of a watch, simply because one feels its power may be running low. Conversely, it also encourages one to wind the watch when it is running low, avoiding the watch stopping and losing track of time.
Note – automatic movements help to maintain the performance of a watch because a movement is generally better at maintaining its accuracy when it is fully wound, or a minimum of two-thirds wound.
**A Power Reserve Indicator (originally called Réserve de Marche), is a ‘complication’ of a watch movement, designed to show the amount of remaining stored power or charge the watch has left. The power reserve indicator indicates the power contained in the mainspring at any particular moment and this is one of the most useful mechanical watch complications.
Introduced in late 1948, the Calibre 481 evolved from the very first automatic movement from Jaeger-LeCoultre, the JLC Calibre 476. Like the Cal. 476, the Cal. 481 features a bumper winding mechanism, meaning the rotor bounces between springs in an arc of around 270 degrees. The JLC Cal. 481 was the first watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre with a power reserve meter and although the movement has been considerably updated, the product line has continued today, along with the names ‘Powermatic’ and ‘Reserve De Marche’.
Here we have a beautifully preserved and lightly used 1949 vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic Cal.481 in stainless steel. This watch is completely original, unrestored and untouched and as can be seen from the photographs, it is in absolutely wonderful condition.
The example here is very rare, as the dial is totally original and unrestored and yet it is in almost flawless condition. Typically, a dial of this age will suffer from fading, staining, pitting, spotting and scratches, but to the naked eye, the dial here looks perfect. Only under high magnification can the faintest signs of spotting be found. We have therefore concluded this dial is far too good to restore and so we have left it alone.
This beautiful ivory white dial carries gilt 1 – 12 standard Arabic numerals which are matched with the original beautifully patenated unrestored ‘Lance’ hands.
The Powermatic dial has a Power Reserve indicator which reads ’40’ on a white background when it is fully wound or ‘charged’, indicating the watch’s 40hr power reserve. As this runs down, the meter not only continues to indicate the power level or ‘charge’, but the background changes to red as the charge falls below 10 hours. This information was perhaps more important in the early days of automatic watches, as other early examples produced by other manufacturers were not so reliable and did not have such a large power reserve. However, this is a very useful feature to have, even today.
As this dial is in original, unrestored condition, this has been left untouched by our restoration team due to its superb condition. Usually, we restore the dials of the watches we sell, however we decided in this case to leave it alone, due to its unusually good condition and to retain its originality and charm for those who prefer this. It also helps to contrast with almost all of the other watch dials you see on our website, which have been restored. The hands, likewise, have also been left in their original untouched condition.
Please note, studio lights, professional-grade digital cameras, and macro lenses can be very unkind to an unrestored vintage watch dial. Also the dial here measures less than 1.25 inches across, so the image you’re seeing may be between 5 – 25 times larger than the watch itself. Therefore please keep in mind you are seeing many tiny flaws which cannot be seen, or will be very hard to see with the naked eye, even under close examination. Suffice to say, on the wrist, in natural light, this dial looks much better and carries a great deal more charm than the photographs portray.
The watch carries its original Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 481, 17 Jewel movement which is in tip-top condition following a thorough overhaul and service by our vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre specialist watchmaker. This means the movement has been completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and rebuilt using only original parts where required before careful calibration and testing. Upon return to stock, the watch is now running to within +12 seconds per day, which is outstanding for any vintage watch of this age! When fully wound, this movement has a 40-hour power reserve. It has been very well maintained and cared for and as can be seen, the movement is in sparkling condition.
The movement is signed ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’ ‘Automatic’ with the Calibre No. 481, along with ’17 Jewels’, ‘Swiss’ and the movement serial number 635075. This serial number dates this watch to 1949.
These movements are strong, accurate and very reliable, making it completely practical and appropriate for regular everyday use. Our watchmaker has indicated this particular movement is in top condition and with regular servicing, every 3 years we fully expect this watch to run very happily for many more decades to come! We are therefore very pleased to offer a 12-month warranty on this watch movement* and servicing in the future, as required.
*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The steel watch case measures 34mm, excluding the correct unsigned winding crown. This makes this a good size watch for the 1940s. The heavy three-piece ribbed case with a wide bezel has quite a bold character, with strong sweeping lugs and a deep case-back to accommodate the rotor. It is in excellent condition, having received a very gentle and sympathetic clean and polish, although the watch has obviously been very well cared for, as there are no dings, scratches or marks visible to the naked eye.
The case-back is a waterproof screw-down case back which is a rare feature on a Jaeger-LeCoultre Powermatic as typically they would have been a press-fit case back.
The inside of the case is correctly signed ‘LeCoultreCo’ and ’Swiss’.
As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap & Buckle
This watch is fitted with a high-quality black Alligator strap along with a matching plain steel buckle. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin, but can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of 18mm straps if you wish.
Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating this watch to 1949.
Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.
A high quality hardwood presentation box, as shown in the photographs, is included in the sale of this watch.
If you would like to pay by bank transfer we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and unfortunately out of our control.
We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges, however attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.
For those that happen to visit the UK on occasion we are of course more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and your watch directly to you there.
As with all our watches, this watch will be sold under our 14 days no quibble sale or return policy.
This is a beautiful example of a classic vintage watch from one of horology’s most famous names and one which if treated with care, will remain an excellent investment as well as be something to use, wear, treasure and enjoy. It will provide excellent reliability as well as a sound financial investment, as long-lasting as the watch itself!
A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post-sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We, therefore, consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
Please note, we also welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or a small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.
We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on +44 207 727 7095.
Please take a look at our other fine vintage steel watches.