Ninety years old. Y’know what else turns the ripe old age of 90 in the year of our lord two thousand and twenty-one? Willie Mays. The Empire State Building. The Star-Spangled Banner (as the official anthem of the United States, that is). Also 90 is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso — an irrefutable classic in the lexicon of important watches from the last century. So much so, it’s been said by many a well-traveled watch fan that every collection needs a Reverso, right there in the box flanked by a Speedmaster and a Submariner. Now, I generally try my best to avoid the sort of “starter pack” mentality that tends to inform many new collectors who simply might not know better, but when it comes to this Art Deco dress watch legend, I’m happily inclined to side with the hive mind. Why? Because the Reverso — to borrow the parlance of the current generation — absolutely slaps.
Introduced in 1931, the Reverso is one of those rare watches that was born out of sporting necessity — you probably already know the story. If you’re new here, in a nutshell, the Reverso’s uniquely hinged dial could be flipped over as a means to protect the delicate crystal from a blow from an errant polo mallet swing. And because of this, even in all of its dressy, Art Deco panache, and even rendered in 18k rose gold, the heavily embellished modern Reverso still carries the weirdly sturdy sensation of a tool watch — as though it were still an object of specific purpose, rather than just another evening accessory, as most traditional dress watches tend to be. That means the Reverso looks even better after a few months of honest wear with a mark beneath its delicately pointed lugs or across its polished case flanks — neither of which will take long to scratch, quite frankly.
It seems like every five or 10 years, we get a fresh salvo of limited edition Reversos for whatever the most current anniversary is on tap. Sure, it’s not exactly the most original modus operandi on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s part, but at the same time, the anniversaries also tend to produce the most wearable or the most interesting and desirable renditions — and this Duoface Fagliano edition from the Tribute collection commemorating the Reverso’s ninetieth is certainly no slouch. Rendered in a gorgeous red sunburst dial that contrasts its rose gold case & hour markers, the package is finished with a textured burgundy leather strap handmade by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufacturing partner Casa Fagliano, the famed Argentinian bootmaker that has been in production for five generations since its own founding in 1832.
Generally speaking, suede is the perfect textural complement to help dress down an otherwise overly elegant design, and it works particularly well here with its added bits of canvas, helping balance out the overt “preciousness” of the Deco elements and contrasting all the gold framing the bright red dial with more rugged, masculine textures. And speaking of masculine, this particular execution is a touch larger than the most traditional of Reverso sizes, measuring 47mm tall by a hair over 28mm wide. Now, if you’re new to the Reverso world, it is traditionally a small, very skinny watch — and one that generally takes some getting used to. This slightly larger case (due in part to the complication it hides) helps bridge the gap between the overt dressiness of the original and brings it more in line with what a modern collector might prefer.
True to Reverso form though, the fun begins when you unlock the case hinge and give it a flip. The earliest Reversos — and the most faithful modern “Monoface” reproductions of the original now found in the Tribute collection, have only a solid metal back — again, that polo mallet countermeasure. But here, we have not just another beautifully textured eggshell-colored watch dial, but a time display in both 12 and 24-hour formats. Known as the Duoface, the calibre 854A/2 powering this dual-timing complication was developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre back in 1994 specifically for the Reverso, enabling the wearer to set either side independently (using the tiny hidden slider that sits flush in the top of the caseband above 12:00) to either display two separate time zones, or simply have the reverse side act as a glorified AM/PM indicator — not entirely unlike a modern GMT watch.
This isn’t the first time Jaeger-LeCoultre has lent a modern Tribute reference its Duoface treatment — it’s available in both stainless steel and rose gold with a blue dial, but this is the first time that we’ve seen it in red, using a more rugged strap configuration inspired by polo boots themselves. All told, it’s quite possibly the most functionally natural and useful way to execute a dual-faced watch and one that has breathed an entirely new modern utility into the Reverso that hasn’t exactly been seen since its days patrolling the polo pitch. I do genuinely love it in rose gold, which yields a particularly dashing canvas upon which to set both red and white dials. Though now on this type of strap, curiosity has me wondering what it would look like if JLC stripped the Reverso to its rugged sporting core even further, using brushed stainless steel or titanium and dial detailing that was more Polaris than Art Deco — perhaps only then could we finally get the dual-timing JLC of our dreams?
Model: Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano (ref. Q398256J)
Dimensions: 47 x 28.3mm x 10.3mm
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Case Material: 18k pink gold
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 854A/2 (hand-wound, dual time)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds. Reverse: Second time zone, 24-hour day/night indicator
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Bi-material cordovan leather and canvas, handmade by Casa Fagliano, pin buckle in 18k pink gold
Price & Availability: $24,300 USD, boutique-exclusive, limited to 190 pieces
This Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano is only available from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s boutique network, and it is limited to 190 pieces (because 90th anniversary, y’all). Once again, it has a price of $24,300 USD. Learn more about the Reverso and check in on the brand’s boutique network in your area at jaeger-lecoultre.com.