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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After spending the last few weeks turning over every stone I could find on the perfect white/silver-dialed watch – something that could wear formally with ease, yet wouldn't look out of place on a distressed leather strap with jeans. Leading the spectrum were options from Nomos, Montblanc and Zenith, but I keep coming back to the 39mm Master Control (154.84.20) and its 37mm predecessor (140.8.89), which has led me to the following three questions:

1) Is the most current 39mm iteration really worth the extra coin? By all appearances, I'd be getting a 'newer' movement negating the need for an imminent service, and a sapphire caseback... Is that really it?
2) I've seen some 37mm variants that exhibited yellowing of the luminous points, and others with more 'modern' looking luminova. Did JLC switch from tritium to SL at some point in this particular Master Control's manufacturing period? Is there a different serial number for the newer variants?
3) Are there any other notable differences between the 37 and the 39mm? I'm assuming the case is subtly different, but I can't tell much more.

Right now, I'm leaning towards the 37mm, simply out of want for a smaller case. Plus, I think the gold medallion on the caseback is extremely cool.



 

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Im not an expert and I can not answer your pure technical quesitons regarding the Luminova nor the serial number. Whereas, I can give you my personal approach about the main topic. Regarding whether to choose the 37 mm or the 39mm, both are inside what it used to be considered the classic size for a dress watch, that is, sub 40mm. So, first of all, you would have to consider if you like "small" watches or you prefer to follow the actual trend of using huge watches, which I personally find poor. Your wrist size is important since in case you had a small wrist, a 39mm would look bulkier and perhaps, less elegant for a dress watch. Are those 2mm worth an extra investment? Maybe they are not but, once again, it is all up to you. I really like saphire casebacks since they allow you to see the "soul" of the watch, even more when it is a JLC in house calibre, finest watchmaking. In my case, that would be a reason strong enough to move into the 39mm.

Of course, I would suggest to try both watches few times, take few pictures and analyze the general look.
 

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You didn't mention your wrist size. For reference, here is my 39mm Master Calendar Moonphase on a 6.5 inch wrist. Keep in mind wrist shots always make the watch look bigger in pictures than real life.

 

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I prefer the 37mm. The display caseback is nice, but, for myself, the extra cost isn't worth it.

Sorry I am not able to help with the lume question.

Regarding your search, I did see a preowned 37mm master control at the Tourneau in San Francisco when I was there end of December. They may be able to ship it if that's of interest to you.


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You didn't mention your wrist size.
6.75", so not too far from yours – I think the 39mm would look just fine (as does yours!), I just wouldn't mind erring on the smaller side. However, a slightly larger diameter would wear well in more casual circumstances too, which I like.

I believe the 139.84.20 is the previous gen (40 mm with different hands). The current 39 mm is 154.84.20. I'm picking mine up Thu and the wait is just killing me :)
Ahh yep, you're totally right – I've edited the post! And would you mind sharing a photo or two of yours when you pick it up? Would love to see!

I prefer the 37mm. The display caseback is nice, but, for myself, the extra cost isn't worth it. Regarding your search, I did see a pre-owned 37mm master control at the Tourneau in San Francisco when I was there end of December. They may be able to ship it if that's of interest to you.
I totally agree with ya about the caseback! And damn – I work just a few blocks away from Tourneau, I'll have to pay 'em a visit to see if it's still there! (highly unlikely...)

All things considered, I think right now, my biggest hangup on the 37mm is simply its age. I don't want to have to service the watch immediately after picking it up, and I'd really like to get to the bottom of tritium application vs. super luminova.
 

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Personally, I prefer the 39. I have a similar sized wrist and the 39 fits just fine. Also, 39 just feels more modern than 37.
 

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2) I've seen some 37mm variants that exhibited yellowing of the luminous points, and others with more 'modern' looking luminova. Did JLC switch from tritium to SL at some point in this particular Master Control's manufacturing period? Is there a different serial number for the newer variants?
I've been trying to pin down the dial lume on these myself. The answer is yes, they did transition the material. I have the 37mm with tritium and it is marked "T Swiss Made T." I purchased it new in 2000 but I'm assuming it was produced a couple years before since catalogs and comments have lead me to believe 1998 or so was the last with tritium. To complicate things though, I've seen many pictures with browning lume with only "Swiss Made" so they apparently changed that practice too, but I haven't pinned down any dates or serial numbers (often not disclosed).

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I was initially leaning towards the 37, but the subtle updates to the 39, along with its newer mint won out. Understated and awesome – couldn't be happier.




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Well it would depend on your wrist but to be frank a 39mm is never big on anybody. If it were me I would go 39mm
 

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Great choice going with the 39. I've seen the yellowing on the markers of the 37, and it looks simply unattractive to me (especially on the older Memovox). Maybe I've been conditioned, but it's just doesn't exude the same feeling as seeing 'Rolex patina.'
 

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Personally, I'm a 38-39mm guy, so I'd find a 37 a bit small. But I just made a similar choice on a Master Geographic, and I went with the older, solid caseback model--the newer version just wasn't worth the 60% more (and more important significant, inevitable depreciation). If service is the only think you're concerned about, I'd try to find a near-mint 37 mm from a pre-owned watch dealer. Most of the reputable ones will have serviced the watch, and include a 1 or 2 year warranty for only a few hundred dollars above the eBay price. This is how I generally acquire watches, and as long as you're OK with very, very slight imperfections (as with any used piece), you can't really go wrong.
 

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i think the 39mm is the way to go. I've never heard someone say their 39mm feels too big. I have heard people complain about 36/37mm watches though....
 
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