With China continuing to grow as one of the world’s largest and most lucrative luxury markets, the annual Lunar New Year celebration has become an important part of the watch industry calendar. Each year brings with it a slew of animal-themed releases meant to commemorate the holiday, and as the Year of the Tiger begins in 2022, tiger-inspired designs have popped up across the watchmaking spectrum. One of the most striking of these feline creations comes from Jaeger-LeCoultre, which brings the striking and powerful form of the tiger to its signature Reverso collection. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” combines classical Eastern motifs with exquisitely executed Swiss techniques and finishing, delivering a genuinely elegant take on this relatively young annual watchmaking tradition.
When viewed from the dial side, the 27.4mm by 45.5mm pink gold case of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” follows the traditional Reverso pattern. The sloping lugs, rounded rotating central case, and Streamline Moderne-esque triple grooves are all present and accounted for, but once the central case is flipped over it reveals this model’s true centerpiece. The culmination of over 75 hours of hand-craftsmanship from the brand’s in-house master engravers and enamellers, this classically stylized rendition of a tiger is a dramatic showcase for several complex finishing techniques. The first step in creating this design is a clean, uninterrupted layer of Grand Feu enamel in onyx black, creating a stark backdrop for the engraving work in images. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engraver then cuts through this pristine layer of enamel to expose the gold beneath and begin the carving process, with a painstakingly precise technique to avoid damaging surrounding areas of enamel. From there, the tiger’s body and the surrounding billowing clouds are built step by step in a process known as modelled engraving, using a progressive series of smaller chisels to form each stage from the rough outline to the fine details of the teeth and fur. Jaeger-LeCoultre finishes the design with polishing across the tiger’s body, contrasted with rhodium brushing for its stripes and claws to create an intricate and dynamic feel in initial photos. The brand frames this remarkable engraving and enamel work with an engraved line texture across the inner surface of the lower case frame. Water resistance for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” stands at a miniscule 30 meters, but this is a far cry from a truly sporting design in its current guise.
In contrast to the intricacy of the enameled case, the dial of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” is an exercise in tasteful simplicity. The main dial surface is coated in an identical layer of pure black Grand Feu enamel, and the Reverso’s signature dauphine hands and dagger-like applied indices are rendered in case-matching polished pink gold. A chemin de fer outer minutes track and 12 o’clock Jaeger-LeCoultre emblem in printed gilt complete the dial, adding a touch of luxurious sparkle in initial images.
Jaeger-LeCoultre equips the Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” with its in-house Calibre 822A/2 handwound movement. The Calibre 822A/2 is one of the brand’s simplest, most elemental movement designs, and this 19-jewel, 108-piece powerplant offers a decent 45 hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. In keeping with the classical ethos of the overall design, Jaeger-LeCoultre pairs the watch with a traditional alligator leather strap in glossy piano black.
With entrancing enamel and engraving work coupled to a classical rendition of the brand’s cornerstone design, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” is a markedly refined and handsome take on the emerging genre of Lunar New Year-themed watches. Although not strictly limited in production, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” is exclusively made to order, and offers buyers an opportunity to customize the standard caseback motif with enamel color options. Ordering is open now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model stands at €90,000 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.