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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Please allow me to begin this hands-on look at the all-new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon on a personal note. While cool, fascinating, and technically impressive modifications, twists, and turns on the evergreen tourbillon mechanism have come and gone, the Gyrotourbillon has always been one of my absolute favorites of them all. So much so, that I wrote my first ever watch article about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon I and II. Yet, despite having attended my fair share of watch events over the past three years, it was not until SIHH 2016 that I could finally go hands-on, and spend some intimate time with a Gyrotourbillon piece… And that piece was the latest and greatest version of them all, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

“Never meet your heroes!” I have heard this many times, and it is precisely what I had in mind when, as we made our way to one of the private press rooms inside the Jaeger-LeCoultre booth accompanied by some of the wonderful people from the brand, I learned that we’d get to see the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon hands-on. We are in the privileged position that we get to handle pretty much all of the hot new releases of the fair – but after so many years of the Gyrotourbillon always getting away, you can surely imagine how excited I was about having a solid 20 minutes of “private time” with one of my all-time grails. But that’s more than enough about me; so let’s see how the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon measured up to expectations – and its $270,000 price tag.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso and its reversible, two-sided case certainly needs no introduction to anyone. It’s been around for some 85 years now, and although the brand has always been rather creative when it came to finding novel ways to utilize its cash-machine collection of reversible watches, some of the most memorable of these efforts remain the most complicated ones. The Gyrotourbillon, with its three-dimensional, double-axis, endlessly spinning escapement downright demands to be viewed and admired from both sides.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The front – let us call it that when the crown falls to the righthand side of the watch – has a silvered and grained dial with dauphine hands, a highly legible and elegant design, with a day-night indicator to the left of the main dial, and a skeletonized cage for the mainspring barrel with the “JL” logo to its right. The Gyrotourbillon is given what seems to be an ever-so-slightly larger stage to be on display, with the outermost frame of the tourbillon sporting a seconds display – sort of, as only the numerals between 55 to 05, and 25 to 35 are visible.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The back is a beautiful maze of multi-layered and heavily skeletonized and engraved components. Upon a closer look, you will see that what appear to be overlapping components set on a single plane are actually a number of bridges, dials, and indices, all situated a fraction of a millimeter above or below one another. The dauphine-style hands remain, which isn’t the best for legibility given the missing dial. Bear in mind, though, that the time indication on this “Recto” side works as second time zone display that can be set via a pusher hidden in the top of the reversible case. Very clever and highly convenient stuff – in case you were planning on performing some serious globetrotting with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon on your wrist.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The case is in platinum – you know, to match the occasion – but the big deal with it is that it actually is smaller than its predecessor, the Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2. In fact, it is a lot smaller. The Gyro-2 was a hefty beast, at 55.4 millimeters tall, 36mm wide, and a massive 16mm thick. By contrast, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon measures a much more manageable 51.2 by 31 by 12.4 millimeters – a size that is perfectly wearable for nearly all wrist sizes. Weight is down substantially, as well: despite the platinum case, this latest iteration wore surprisingly light.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Needless to say, all this is down to the serious diet that JLC’s engineers have put the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon movement through. It is composed of 385 parts, 52 jewels, and 2 barrels – although, despite the latter, impressive-sounding specification, power reserve is a mere 38 hours. Still… I think we can agree that keeping a Gyrotourbillon wound scores high on the list of ultimate first-world problems.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Despite the 30% lighter movement and the 40% smaller overall case size, the Gyrotourbillon has lost none of its rare, “three-dimensional appeal.” The cages of the tourbillon have been made extremely thin, which makes the mechanism appear to be more nimble and poised. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon uses the brand’s in-house-made, hemispherical balance spring, fitted onto an also rather unique-looking balance wheel – that isn’t really a wheel at all, and more like two curved, T-shaped components welded together.

The driving force is delivered by that gold-colored wheel that you see at the top of the image just above: it meshes with the large, outermost disc of the tourbillon. This one single point of contact makes the Gyrotourbillon come alive and perform its double-axis, three-dimensional dance.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All that weight-shedding in the Gyrotourbillon’s assembly allowed for an increase in rotation speed: the outer cage still takes one-minute to make a full rotation, while the inner one – the one that rotates perpendicular to the plane of the dial – has been sped up to 12.65 seconds from 18 seconds in the previous version. This makes for a rather frantic-looking ballet: the little device appears to expose some weird sense of urgency, as though it is trying to make its way around its axis as quickly as possible.

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  • High-tech in a classy package. Not that I have the change in my pocket for one, but I can see where this piece costs what it does (as much as any quarter-mega-buck watch can justify its lofty price). Exquisitely answers a largely irrelevant question in the never ending quest for total wrist porn. So many very high end tourbillons come in bizarre looking watches so this is refreshing to see in such a classic case yet it retains so much presence. Guess you can tell I like this watch a lot. Thanks for the review.

  • Neo Veloci

    Great review. Would love to see your review of the new Reverso Tribute Duo as well, if it’s not too much to ask 😉

  • john coleman

    Great watch and review. Would have loved to have seen a video.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    They got this one absolutely right. Good size and wear, 2 beautiful sides: one for visibility and one for admiring the movement, and the gyro… Wow. Also it is not in an ugly yellow or pink gold, there is simply too much to like on this piece. After seeing this piece I could never buy an ordinary Reverso, so I guess I need to start saving up for a couple of hundreds of years.

    Thanks for the review David – Would be good to include a video just to see it in action if you made any?

    • iamcalledryan

      There is always a special place in my heart for this one

  • Roma KLM

    A very beautiful watch and I wish I could buy it some day.
    But give me another item please, this one is scratched.

    • iamcalledryan

      Considering that it is impossible to resist chewing on watches of this quality, I am not in the least bit surprised to see those bite marks.

    • For $270K I think the Ad might buff out the scratches for you. Or have JLC replace the just the case. Oh those press people who can wait to literally get the claws on these beauties.

  • iamcalledryan

    A wonderful watch from the guys (with the help of Coudray) that nailed the gyrotourb.

    I personally prefer a full, rather than skeletonized movement on a reverso of this sort. The large escapement and the skeletal cage are enough to admire without the motifs on the bridges.

    To power a gyro tourbillon is a massive undertaking so I am more disappointed to not see a reserve indicator than I am about the reserve itself.

    Anyway, love it.

    • egznyc

      Hey, sometimes more is more. I’m not going to complain about the skeletonization. At least not how it was done here. But you’re right – a power reserve indicator would have been nice and not such a heavy lift.

  • Shirley Furby

    The watch is simply a masterful achievement. If I could get near one I think it would mesmerize me for hours just watching the mechanical ballet of it’s time keeping. Now comes the “but” something about the design confuses me. It has and ,in my opinion, an industrial look to the finish. All the engraving is well done and the”rough” texture on some of the finishes is obviously intentional but I do not see the level of finishing to the edges that one would expect at this price point. Still beautiful and amazing and totally miles beyond anything I could ever hope to acomplish. Kudos to the craftsmen who built this beauty.

  • SuperStrapper

    I always want to like the reverse but have never found one that I truly love. The tech in this one is amazing and I love that it exists, but aside from the brief novelty of having seen it on my wrist I don’t know that I would want to wear it on any regular basis.

  • Marius

    I like the previous version, the Gyrotourbillon 2, better because it has a perfect movement-dial-case transition. It uses a modern movement, but the dial and case are avant garde as well.

    The new version, although slimmer and lighter, doesn’t achieve such a good balance. I mean, the tourbillon movement, especially the cylindrical balance and the new balance wheel, is very modern, whereas the skeletonized dial looks a bit old school. It’s a bit strange, it’s like seeing a vintage Jaguar E-Type equipped with a brand new V8 supercharged engine.

  • Michael Kinney

    I’d never thought about the running seconds running counterclockwise in the Recto side. Now, that’s cool.

  • egznyc

    Wow. Wow! It’s amazing what they’ve packed into this case. And to think: it’s really two watches in one, so you’re “only” spending what?, a little over $100K per watch (side). 😉

    Seriously, does watch porn get any better than this? The skeletonization is well done, providing a fantastic view of the inner workings. The gyrotourbillon is a great show in its own right, while the classic case with its great history is the icing on the cake.

  • Sevenmack

    Just talking to pals about this watch at a conference and all they could say while reading about it were oohs and aahs. This is watch porn at its most sumptuous and sexy. Especially the skeletonization.

  • DanW94

    Couldn’t own one of these, it would kill me. I’d walk in front of a bus or off a cliff or into a lion’s enclosure staring at that gyrotourbillon.

  • Antjay

    Forget grail watch , this is the Holy Grail , the One True Cross and the Spear of Destiny all rolled into one , and sadly for me at least , equally within reach !

    • hatster

      All that he says!

  • Coert Welman

    This is seriously impressive and amazing. One little gripe. If someone wants $270k for a watch, they should at least make the screws align. For that kind of money, one would expect something close to perfection.

    • iamcalledryan

      Until a method is invented for watchmakers, aligned screws on a movement are not perfection – they indicate that the plates have not been screwed down properly!

      • MEddie90

        I like the unaligned screws in most cases. It helps break the symmetry (I hate overly symmetrical designs) making a movement feel a little more organic and reassures me that the screws are doing what they are supposed to do. All in all I don’t really get all the fuss alot of people kick up about this “issue”.

  • hatster

    David, please don’t be offended. As wise and insightful as your words are, this one just needs pictures….OH OK, it was a good read too.

  • funNactive

    Wow, awesome design!