Anniversaries in the watch world are common. Sometimes brands celebrate their founding, or the birth of their founder, or the birth of a specific collection. Sometimes those anniversaries are big ones: 50, 75, 100. However, 2016 marks the 85th anniversary of the first famed Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre, and in anticipation of that anniversary, the brand is pulling out all the stops by creating a Tribute Reverso Collection and enhancing its Classic Collection.
Reverso – a double-sided watch that pushes out and swivels in its case to turn around with ease and depict the other side of the watch – is one of the historic icons in watchmaking. First created in 1931 in response to a request from polo players to have a watch that doesn’t break during play – the Reverso has become a beloved legend in time.
In fact, I am a bit feint of heart each time I see one. I caught my first glimpse of one more than 30 years ago—at the Basel Fair (yes, it was the Basel Fair then and Jaeger-LeCoultre was not yet owned by the Richemont Group and the SIHH exhibition in Geneva had not yet started). Back then, tucked away in the second row of the opening hallway, Jaeger-LeCoultre exhibited a stunning series of diamond- and gemstone-adorned Reversos, as well as some magnificent hand-painted pieces. It was the 1980’s and many eyes were on quartz watches and basic designs.
Jaeger-LeCoultre was then, and is today, not at all basic. I tried on Reverso after Reverso that year, and sometimes, when the stress of the show got to me, I went back to that corner and just stared at the watches … vowing one day to own my own Reverso with sleek rectangular case and reversible dial.
So, as 2016 marks the 165th anniversary of the watch, I anticipate grand styles emerging that will evoke the same breathtaking response. I see, from the sneak previews of a few models that underscore what is to come in 2016—that I will not be disappointed.
According to Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, “To mark its 85th birthday, we wished to offer a new vision of the Reverso, so that each individual can immediately recognize the collection that matches their own character and the model destined to become theirs. It was about respectfully evolving this legendary watch …”
Of course, respecting the legend as the brand unveils news pieces is a multi-pronged approach that requires safeguarding the spirit of the line, ensuring user friendliness and developing new sizes, styles and movements. The brand is focusing on clarifying the Reverso into three style expressions: the Classic, the Tribute and the Reverso One. Each will have multiple sizes and several in the Reverso Classic will house a new automatic movement.
The Reverso Classic Collection, with Art Deco inspiration, Arabic numerals and subtly re-worked lugs, consists of the Classic Small (quartz powered), Medium and Large sizes (automatics), the automatic Classic Large Duo (with time and 24-hour day/night indication on one side and second time zone on the reverse side) and the manually wound Reverso Classic Duetto – each offered in pink gold or stainless steel.
The Reverso Tribute collection pays homage to the haute horology and history, and so original models inspire its different dials. Additionally, its overall vintage demeanor (with chocolate brown, midnight blue or bold red dials) is inspired by the original 1931 sprit. Giving it a contemporary spin, these watch dials further feature Dauphine-style hands and applied hour markers. These timepieces re powered by mechanical manual-wind movements.
The Reverso Tribute collection consists of the Tribute Duo (two independent dials with a day/night indicator and trigger adjustment of the second time zone), the mechanical manually wound Tribute Calendar (complete calendar on one side and Duo time concept on the other side), powered by the 283-part Caliber 853. The calendar complication in this watch features a very sophisticated moonphase display and offers 45 hours of power reserve.
These watches, which have not yet been priced, are the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and we expect to see many more versions, including complicated Reversos, joining the line up in Geneva in January. Stay Tuned. Meanwhile, enjoy this slide show of new and vintage Reverso watches.