March 26, 2023
by Matt Reudink
If there’s one watch that embodies an era like no other, it has to be the Art Deco styling of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Introduced nearly a century ago in 1931, the Reverso forged in the crucible of the 1920s Art Deco scene. Though many are familiar with the Reverso’s origins on the Polo pitch, with its signature reversible design protecting the crystal during play, what is often overlooked is how quickly Jaeger-LeCoultre embraced the versatility of the Reverso’s design for both men and women. Within a year of the initial release, Jaeger-LeCoultre began producing models with feminine styling, doing so with style and panache. For Watches and Wonders 2023, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduces the Reverso One Precious Colors, two new models that harness the brand’s in-house Métiers Rares atelier to create two colorfully enameled and gem-set creations.
The Art Deco movement was spawned from the exuberance of post-World War I optimism and was characterized by streamlined shapes, strong lines, and repetitive use of parallel lines and rectilinear motifs. Just as it did in 1920s Paris, Art Deco styling represents luxury, glamour, and exuberance. And luxurious the new Reverso One Precious Colors most certainly are.
The 40x20mm case of the Reverso One Precious Colors is crafted from gold (white gold for the green colorway and pink gold for the blue colorway), yet it’s the enameling work and gem-setting that steal the show. Having an in-house atelier at your disposal certainly helps, especially when you’re creating something as labor-intensive as the Reverso One Precious Colors.
To create the intricate lines and sumptuous hues of the case, Jaeger-LeCoultre uses a grand feu enameling process set with diamonds. First, the case is sealed with fondant (transparent enamel), then layered and fired repeatedly with opaque enamel before the fine lines of the geometric design are hand-drawn on the case and sides. Using a fine-tipped brush, each block is then individually painted and fired layer by layer before being layered again with fondant. The process is incredibly time-consuming, taking 80 hours of enameling work for a single watch. And that’s before gem-setting.
Once the gem-setter receives the watch, they use a grain-setting technique to hold each diamond in place—all while ensuring they don’t disturb the enamel or disrupt the perfectly straight lines of the color fields. The gem-setting process alone takes another 45 hours. One mistake and it’s back to square one.
Since its inception, the Reverso has embraced both masculine and feminine styling and the Reverso One Precious Colors is an embodiment of elegantly feminine design with pure Art Deco styling. Jaeger-LeCoultre describes the Reverso One Precious Colors as “a jewel to be worn, as well as a watch to tell the time.” It’s hard to argue with that description.
Prices for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Precious Colors have yet to be released, but both will be available with limited production and prices are certain to be commensurate with the time and skill required for each step in the watch’s creation. For more information on Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Reverso One Precious Colors, please visit the brand’s website.