May 30, 2019
by Rob Nudds
We’re very used to seeing classic models being reborn, time and time again in watchmaking, but few are quite so unchanging as the Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso. Invented in 1931, the Reverso (as it is commonly known) came to life to solve a persistent problem. A British officer stationed in India had noticed his watch was sustaining frequent damage during rambunctious polo matches and so a reversing case, enabling the face to be hidden from damage, was developed. The center of the watch head slides out to the side and can be flipped over to reveal the caseback. Originally the casebacks of early Reversos were solid and either blank or engraved, but nowadays they can be decorated in myriad ways. More recently still, some Reversos feature a separate watch face showing further complications or simply offering the option of a second time zone.
At SIHH this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre released three new models that will add a further dimension to the core collection. These models, in addition to the truly limitless customizations possible, strengthen one of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and the Richemont Group’s, strongest offerings.
All three new models — the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto — have been heavily influenced by the 1930s classics.
At a positively gargantuan 27.4 mm-wide × 45.6mm-long × 8.5mm-thick the caliber 822/2-powered Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds comes in stainless steel only. The lush burgundy red dial is sun-ray brushed and paired with a color-matched leather strap. With the classic time/closed caseback setup, this is a simple watch that shows only the hours, minutes, and seconds by way of a sub-dial at 6 o’clock that gives the watch its name. It is a simple and classic addition to the collection in a very appealing colorway.
The second of the new trio offers a mid-size proposition, measuring a very wearable 28.3 mm wide × 47mm × 10.3mm. Narrower and thicker than the Tribute Small Seconds, this piece stands up on the wrist with a more similar profile to the original models from the ’30s. To ensure its practicality for the odd polo game in which you may find yourself embroiled, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute Duoface is also only available in stainless steel. Inside, the manual caliber 854A/2 will tick away for 42 hours between winds. The front side dial shows just the hours, minutes, and seconds, while the back side is home to a second time zone as well as an accompanying day/night indicator. The first dial is a blue sun-ray base with applied silver markers, while the second is a slightly more complex design, boasting a silvered background decorated with a Clous de Paris guilloché and finished off with applied hour-markers.
Finally, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto is available in both pink gold and stainless steel. This model shows just the hours and minutes on both the front and the back, but with two starkly different dials. Both the pink gold and the stainless steel options have the same front side — a silvered, sun-ray guilloché, with Arabic numerals and heat-blued hands. The back side, however, is colored differently for both. The pink gold displays a rich burgundy, while the stainless steel — which is available with either a blue leather strap or a five-link bracelet — has a navy blue reverse. The cases both measure 20mm wide × 40.1mm × 9.09 mm and are decorated with 56 diamonds, which amounts to a carat weight of 0.63. All three references are powered by the manually wound caliber 844, which has a power reserve of 38 hours.
While none of these pieces reinvents the wheel, all three (especially the Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute Duoface, in my opinion) do add an extra layer of appeal to a collection that shows no signs of losing its place in the market. As the preeminent rectangular watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso enjoys almost protected status. But that’s the reward for creating a product that never goes out of style, even if you’re not one for saddling up for a chukka or two. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds retails for $7,900, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface has a price tag of $10,400, while the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto is priced at $9,550 in steel on the strap, $10,500 in steel on the bracelet, and $20,300 in pink gold on the burgundy strap. Learn more at jaeger-lecoultre.com.