Much is made of the set of decorative skills that can transform the Reverso from an ordinary watch into a piece of
art. Indeed, the Reverso, better than any other watch, presents the finest available blank canvas, upon which the
owner and artisan alike may demonstrate their appreciation and patronage of high craft.
Some collectors ascribe great value to the narrative that may flow from a simple monogram (for example, on The Duke
of Windsor’s watch), others can go so far as to have portraits of their favorite pet engraved. The counter to this
is that it renders the watch so permanently “yours”. The case back is virtually begging to be personalised. Which
makes it a perfect watch to give to a family member or a loved one, but also to mark special events in one's life
such as weddings.
As vivid as the personalisation can be, the beauty is there’s no need to have it permanently on display – unlike the
flames painted down the side of your car, or that rather prominent tattoo. Render it visible to admirers with a mere
press of a fingertip, and then flip it round again, safely and securely secreted away within an impenetrable metal
Two Watches for One
The Reverso is all about flipping the watch around so as to protect one side or the other. As originally, conceived,
it was the glass front that was meant to be protected. Now, we’ve discovered that the back of the Reverso is a fun
place to put all sorts of interesting things. But if miniature enamels and engraving aren’t your bag, then what
about a whole other watch?
The Reverso Duo, and the smaller Duetto, are among the model’s most popular-ever iterations. Not quite “business at
the front, party at the back”, it is nevertheless alluring because of the ability to have two entirely different
watch dials in one package. The larger version of the watch also has the ability to switch the time display in
one-hour increments. This is perfect for travellers, because you can simultaneously track two time zones without the
added clutter of a dedicated GMT hand.
The Duo is but one of a long line of inventive and successful Reverso watches that has included ladies’ models such
as the Reverso Cordonnet from 1938, the astonishing Grande Complication à Triptyque, which presented a concerted
perpetual calendar display spanning all three available surfaces of the watch, and the Gyrotourbillon 2 with its JLC
calibre 174, which in 2009 won the precision timekeeping contest, Concours International de Chronométrie.
With all these wonderful associations, it may be easy to lose sight of just what a superb product the Reverso
actually is. In engineering terms, that swivelling case utterly outstrips anything in its class, and requires quite
staggering amounts of technical input. It is also a design that is unrivaled to this day and cements its almost 90
years reign as one of the most iconic one.
During the burgeoning period of wristwatch development that was the 1930s, the nascent watch-case industry had very
little to go on when it came to style and technique. Most manufacturers scaled down pocket watches and added wire
lugs onto them. When most other wristwatches were cased in what amounted to little more than elaborate sweethearts’
lockets, the Reverso case was a pinnacle of technical ingenuity.
Ever since, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been sensitive to the design cues laid down by the man who originally commissioned
the Reverso, César De Trey. The grooved bands at the head and tail of the case have remained extant in just about
every edition of the Reverso. People love to recall the Art Deco aspect of these rectilinear details. With such
powerful design cues and associations, the Reverso’s guardians have had to weigh their responsibility carefully, so
as to preserve the spirit of the thing without transforming it into a pastiche.
This is one of the reasons why the Reverso has remained a reliable and rewarding watch, not only in its style, but
especially in its value. The Reverso is all things to all men – and women. It’s the epitome of Art Deco style, and
yet not obnoxiously so. It is at once a high-precision instrument and a diverting toy, capable of captivating its
owner and all whom he or she meets. I am not at all surprised that almost 90 years on, the love affair collectors
have with the Reverso is as strong as ever.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique is one of the least expensive ways to wear a watch from this grande maison.
Although you could consider it the entry-level Reverso, no corners were cut to create this watch.
The Classique is as pure as you can get for a Reverso. Its dimensions may sound modest, at 23.1mm wide and 38.5mm
long, yet that is also part of its strength. It oozes the style of decades long gone, but obviously not
The dial engages in a subtle play with light, revealing textures and colors you didn’t think were in the dial. This
really gives the watch depth and amplifies that Art Deco style so closely associated with the timepiece.
Chocolate dials have become something of a niche lately, with more and more brands adopting them. The results of this
vary per watch, and that makes the approach that Jaeger-LeCoultre has selected all the more interesting. They went
for a matte brown, changed the metal for the case from stainless steel to pink gold and fitted it with a more
robust, and may I say even, sporty strap.
The result is a stunning version of the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931. The matte chocolate dial gets a nice vintage
touch from the Art-Deco styled, yellowish numeral and hour markers, and of course greatly compliments the pink gold
case, with its warm glow. Pink gold can be a bit in your face when used on a more robust, larger watch, and that is
why it works so well on the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931. With an overall height of 7.3mm it is slender,
especially when you take into account that this includes the swivel mechanism of the case. Measurements for the
watch are 46.8 x 27.4 mm which gives the case a nice presence, but is not even as Grande on most wrists as you might
Inside the watch is caliber 822/2 responsible for the timekeeping of this Reverso. About this movement there is not
much to say. Jaeger-LeCoultre has already established itself as the Manufacture among Manufactures a long time ago
and caliber 822/2 is exactly one of the reasons why. A form-shaped manual wind movement, with an elegant
bridge-construction, top-notch finishing and just under 3mm in height, makes it a companion that is as beautiful as
it is precise and reliable.
With the strap, Jaeger-LeCoultre is showing once again it’s polo-heritage, since it is made by none other than Casa
Fagliano, Argentina’s premier manufacturer for polo equipment, mainly leather boots and knee-pads. Although already
a beautiful brown-red color, one can expect that its patina will only deepen over time.
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