Of all of the world's many thousands of hotels, very few ever become an icon for the city or country in which they are based. Consider Haiti's Hotel Oloffson, Dubai's Burj Khalifa (as seen in MI4: Ghost Protocol) or the Bellagio Hotel of Las Vegas. These are hotels that have become international set pieces and back drops that make up part of the visual mindscape that many people have for locations that they may have never visited. Some hotels are so longstanding that they can become a pillar for global tourism in their area. Singapore's premiere example of this is the Raffles Hotel, which will soon be celebrating its 125th anniversary and will mark the occasion with a series of specially engraved Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watches.
The Reverso has been around for over 80 years and is an excellent choice as the symbol to commemorate the 125th year of the world famous Raffles Hotel. Established in 1887 and named after Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, the Raffles Hotel has weathered the winds of change and has done so quite admirably. Declared a national monument in 1987, the Raffles Hotel has been host to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, played set piece for Glen Close in 1997's "Paradise Road", and has won literally countless awards during its considerable lifespan.
Jaeger-LeCoultre needs little introduction as one of the world's leading luxury watch brands and it's not hard to see why one of the world's best hotels would want to draw connections between their legacies. In this case, the connection is actually fairly superficial with interested buyers being able to choose between two models of the Reverso which have had the back panel of their reversible case engraved to show “Raffles Hotel 1887-2012 Singapore”. The two models are the Reverso Grande Taille (ref 2708410), and the ladies’ Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin (ref 3208421). The gents' model is powered by the hand-wound caliber 822 movement while the ladies' model features the quartz caliber 657. The Reverso is an excellent example of the difference between fashion and style. A simple Reverso has no consideration of trends, instead it is a product of design and style which successfully operates outside much of the ebb and flow of fashion.
For their 117th anniversary, Raffles sourced 117 customized Longines watches and we think they have chosen well for their 125th, not only with JLC, but specifically with the Reverso. For a hotel to survive 125 years of recent human history, it has to be able to change and grow without loosing its soul and the joie de vivre which makes it unique. While the engraving is not the most novel nor creative of designs, it does make a simple connection between the life of the hotel and the legacy of the Reverso. While decades of human history would suggest that even good things often come to an end, we still have the Raffles Hotel and we still have watches like the Reverso.
By James Stacey