Marvel Comics’ latest movie, Doctor Strange, opens today and stars the amiable Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams. But their co-star is just as recognizable to us watch enthusiasts: a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual.
Doctor Strange derives supernatural powers from mystical artifacts, so it is fitting that he would wear a practically magical watch.
A perpetual calendar will track time, date, day, month, and year till the end of the century, without needing to be reset after every 28- or 30-day month (as with a standard calendar watch) or every February (as with an annual calendar). The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual is indeed perpetual, and it throws in a moon phase indicator for good measure. It also includes a neat little day/night indicator just above the cannon pinion, to save you from grinding the very expensive gears of your perpetual calendar by setting it between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., while the date is changing. But its real trick is packing all that haute horology into a 39 x 9.2 mm stainless or gold case. The self-winding caliber 868 movement itself is only 4.72 mm thick, despite 336 parts and 46 jewels.
That is insanely thin. The world’s thinnest mechanical watch is the all-movement Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette at 3.60 mm (followed closely by the Piaget Altiplano 900P at 3.65 mm). But those are time-only, manual-wound deals; neither even has room for a second hand. For a more pedestrian comparison, the Hamilton intra-matic I’m wearing is very thin by modern standards, but its domed crystal reaches 9.74 mm above my wrist, 0.54 mm higher than the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual.
In the movie, the watch is a gift to Doctor Strange from McAdams’ character, Christine Palmer, and she appears to have opted for the stainless version, with silver dial and polished nickel indices ($19,200). As a neurosurgeon, Doctor Strange probably felt at home handling stainless steel. It also comes in white gold with slightly darker markers on the same dial ($34,200), pink gold with matching indices and an “eggshell beige” dial ($31,500), or stainless with a black sunburst dial to match the black alligator strap ($20,400). A diamond bezel is a $5,000-option on the gold models, if you must.
Doctor Strange may be able to fly with the Cloak of Levitation or negate evil magic with the Eye of Agamotto, and I’m sure the Orb of Agamotto, a crystal ball that is used for clairvoyance, is nice to have. But none of those can automatically adjust for a leap year, to save you the trouble of resetting your watch in February.