Service: Jaeger LeCoultre Futurematic / calibre 497

I’ve done quite a few of these, and blogged about some of them, but this one deserves a post of its own, and you will see in a bit why …

The case and crown are in good condition.

The inside with the setting wheel also looks great – usually, this is the first point where intervention has taken place…

The dial has been re-printed at one point, and the subdials could be better, but hey…

The usual signs of marker removal. Nice to have the original date of the dial manufacture – the 15. of October 1953.

A first look below the dial, and a nice sight. The movement is in almost virginal condition. The less people have taken it apart, the better the chances that there is no damage.

The top side also looks great. Even the hacking lever isn’t damaged!

Considering what we will see later, not bad at all.

With the balance out, there is a lot of dirt to see on the lower jewel setting and the pallet fork.

The barrel with the power reserve indication disc isn’t clean, either.

Now this is astonishing. The amount of dirt and dust in the gear train makes me wonder why the watch was ticking at all.

The lower seat of the barrel, with the little cone for the power reserve indication.

The ratchet wheel and click, and the two little wig-wag pinions.

If you enlarge the photo, you will also see quite a lot of dirt on the jewel setting.

The good news is that everything cleans up very well indeed. The condition of the movement is as good as new, and the best FutureMatic I’ve had in the workshop so far!

Looks fantastic. Check out the regulator, and the balance cock. Pristine.

Nothing worn out, nothing scratched, nothing damaged.

I’ve now set the correct lift angle, and I have a very nice performance indeed.

The banking stop spring was broken, and is now replaced with a new one.

The mainspring is pre-tensioned by 1.5 turns before the plate for the power reserve indication is put on and the two little guiding screws are fitted.

The bottom plate is back together, and looks fantastic as well.

This is what the movement will have looked like in 1953, and this is what it looks like today again.

The setting wheel mechanism needs a bit of cleaning as well.

Out of the cleaning machine, it’s looking very nice indeed.

The setting wheel back in place, and also looking pristine.

Instead of the high-dome crystal that was fitted, I put on a low dome, which looks a lot nicer.

This is a watch I would love to own, and I don’t mind the re-dial. Better to have a non-original dial and a pristine movement, than an original dial with a worn out and battered movement, which is the usual state FutureMatics come in. The best one we’ve seen here, and it will be a long time until we will see one with a movement that is so good.

26 thoughts on “Service: Jaeger LeCoultre Futurematic / calibre 497

  1. Hi watchguy, Christian,
    I recently bought a Futurematic (497) on the internet from a professional seller.
    The watch was restored, serviced, polished, etc. and the outside looks like new.
    The watch makes a very noticable metal to metal noise while moving it.
    My question is about the power reserve. Unwinded the little hand points to the 12 marker, a day on the wrist leads this hand to point the 10 marker. I thought the 9 hour position should be the max to prevent overwinding. The effective power reserve of my watch is just about 32 hours.
    Could this be a problem?

  2. Dear Watchguy,
    I was impressed by your work on a JL Futurematic. I bought one recently and the time setting mechanisme lacks and the screwed ring to fit the bottom is not there. Could you find these for me? The clockwork is running, but there is a problem with the winding.
    Could you help me to make it a working timepiece again?
    Kind regards, Eric Mulder, The Hague, Netherlands

  3. Hello,
    I am working on one of those at a time, it is very interesting mechanical marvel. I need a barrel arbor to replace do you have one for sale or idea where to find it.
    Thanks Sam

  4. I have recently purchased a JLC futurematic cal. 497 which looks to be in good condition. The previous owner has had the watch for several years (possibly from new) buried away in his house so hopefully there won’t be too much damage to the movement. It’s currently in for its service, I can only dream that the movement is in this condition!
    Love the blog posts, one of your first posts on this movement was the reason I fell in love with it in the first place!
    Hopefully I can get my next service into you guys!

  5. Stunning work as usual Christian!

    I have been quietly following your blogs for quite a while now, but feel I had to make comment this time as the especially as the Futurematic is one of my all time favourites.

    Your willingness to share knowledge is examplary; as one who works on watches and all things mechanical, I really like your meticulous approach and high standards.

    • I was given a Lecoultre
      Futurematic by my 87 year old father in law. He bought it new I 1958. He wore it like it was a Timex. The movement is working great, it looks fair. But the back is fairly worn and it needs a new crystal due to multiple scratches. Is that something I can replace myself or ? I see they sell the crystal on ebay for about $25. Thanks for any advice. I love the watch.

  6. This is just yet another proof that Christian is the ideal person to work with collectors. He understand collectors because he thinks like one.

    Had the watch in this post be serviced by someone who did not appreciate it, it would not have been cared for in the same way. I had a terrible experience with a local watchmaker who butchered a beautiful 30T2rg I inherited from my grandfather. It was supposed to be a good watchmaker, but I believe he assigned my watch to some inexperienced intern because it is old.

    I was saved by a family acquaintance who is a retired watchmaker from Philadelphia who referred me to Christian’s website. I sent Christian the watch with all the components my friend recommended. It has been a great experience. The watch is now working well again. I am also very happy with the communication, photos, etc. I also learned a lot from looking at the blog while looking for parts on the internet.

    Taking care of the 5 watches my brother and I inherited became my hobby. Will send all one by one to Christian.

  7. It’s so satisfying to see how the process goes and that in the end you get such an accurate beat.
    Will for sure send my watches to you for service when time comes.

    Fantastic job!

    All the best from Denmark!

  8. Hi, could you let me know, how the hand setting mechanism is structured. I’m interested especially, how the waterproof spring is installed.

      • I’m interested in the metal plate with the opening, which look like a star. In which direction should it be installed?

        Is it bent in direction of the hand setting wheel and the outer ring is fixed to the caseback or the other way round?

        • The domed spring is put in so that it’s lying with the outer rim on the case back, with the dome pointing towards the setting wheel. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense mounted the other way, as the small inner diameter would be pushed back and forth over the case back, probably causing damage.

          • Thanks and by the was: excellent work and watch repair guide. Your guides for the 497 did help me a lot in the restoration of the same movement.

  9. Hi,

    could you let me know, how the setting wheel mechanism is structured. I do not now, how the waterproof spring has to be installed.


  10. Hi Christian , thanks for the service , had no idea it was such a good’un . I bought it on eBay from the States late last year . The original crystal was so scratched on the photos that the dial did look to be “original ” as described . I fitted a high dome crystal ? and spent acres of time prepping the case , being meticulous about maintaining the profiles yet leaving all the evidence of it’s sixty odd year history intact . ( The expanding pin holes in the lugs show little wear so the watch can’t have been worn that much ) . Strangely despite the muck you found inside it kept resonable time ( -20secs/day max ) but the rotor did make a noticeable metal to metal noise at each end of it’s travel ( thanks for the advice about the part required ) …

  11. Great post, any idea where all the debris came from? There’s so much of it and it seems to be focused around the centre wheel…?

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