When considering some of the most recognizable watches on the market, the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre undoubtedly stands among the top. The Reverso’s defining features include its reversible case, capable of being flipped to shield the watch face, and its captivating Art Deco aesthetics. Since 1931, this design has not only enhanced the watch’s durability but has also empowered wearers to personalize the reverse side, often adorned with engravings or decorative designs.
To delve into the rich history of the Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre is currently hosting a pop-up in New York City’s Flatiron District at IRON23, 29 W 23rd Street, New York, titled “The Reverso Stories,” running until November 22nd. The exhibition also offers a watchmaking experience, allowing participants to assemble their own Reverso case with watchmakers. Additionally, within the exhibition, lies the 1931 Café, where world-renowned French Chef Nina Métayer explores her interpretation of Art Deco aesthetics through cakes and pastries, creating a perfect accompaniment to your iced coffee or espresso-based drinks.
As you stroll through the exhibition, you gain a genuine feel for JLC’s innovation. The first Reverso was conceived in response to a request from British officers stationed in India who sought a watch capable of withstanding the rigors of polo matches. To prevent crystals from breaking and damaging watch dials, businessman César de Trey conceived the idea of a watch case that could flip upside down while being worn. Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced its first manufacture movement for the Reverso, calibre 410, in 1933. Over the years, the Reverso has evolved in terms of design, functionality, and movements, with signature gadroons and triangular lugs defining JLC’s aesthetic.
In 1991, after the quartz crisis, Jaeger-LeCoultre reimagined the Reverso. With harder sapphire crystals becoming an industry standard, the protective caseback underwent a transformation. Alongside JLC’s new movement innovations, the Reverso’s caseback became a new canvas with the addition of an entirely different watch. This innovation allowed for the independent setting of two different time zones. As you explore deeper into the exhibition halls, the transformation takes center stage with an enclosed wall showcasing the various movements JLC has designed. On the outer perimeter are some of the Reversos that house these movements. Approaching the back wall of the movement hall, you witness the latest Reverso innovation, featuring not only double watches but also complications like a perpetual calendar on both the front and rear of the watch, and also complications adorning the cradle housing the flipping mechanism. This means all four flat surfaces of the Reverso house a movement. While this is an ultra-limited timepiece, it exemplifies what Jaeger-LeCoultre can accomplish.
At the rear of the exhibition, you can explore the art of enameling and the artwork that has graced Reversos over time. Different works of art from JLC’s enamellers, gem-setters, engravers, and guillochage masters are on display. It is impressive to see how the entire watch is used as a canvas for their artwork, with some of the enamel work on the casebacks being particularly noteworthy.
The watchmaking experience inside the exhibition is both educational and enjoyable. Watchmakers guide you through a deeper history of JLC and the Reverso. Gathered around a table adorned with a watchmaker’s lab coat, a loupe, and armed with watchmaker tools, each participant assembles a Reverso case. One watchmaker explained the process, while another elaborated on the design and purpose of each part. Observing the watch case dissembled puts into perspective the innovation of the Reverso, consisting of about 50 parts compared to a traditional circular watch.
After assembling the Reverso case, Café 1931 awaits. Designed to resemble a 1930s ocean liner, the café’s black and white palette, filled with Art Deco elements, complements the Reverso’s aesthetic. World-renowned Chef Nina Métayer has crafted a purposeful menu of cakes and pastries to match the aesthetics, incorporating ingredients from Vallee de Joux, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home. The Spirale De Noisette stood out as my personal favorite, enjoyed alongside iced coffees, espressos, and honey lattes. The prices are extremely reasonable for the caliber of food and experience. This year, Chef Nina Métayer was elected the best World Confectioner by Union Internationale des Boulangers et Pâtissiers. The staff is also prompt and courteous, making it a place worth revisiting, especially after work.
“The Reverso Stories” provides a truly remarkable experience. Whether wandering the halls independently or with a guided tour, participating in the watchmaking experience or not, you gain insight into how JLC has solidified the Reverso’s status as an iconic and enduring timepiece. “Reverso Stories,” the watchmaking experience, and Café 1931 are open through November 22nd. The exhibition is free, while the watchmaking experience is priced at $120 USD. For more information and to register, please visit Jaeger-LeCoultre’s website.
For true fans of what Jaeger-LeCoultre is doing with the Reverso, the $120 experience is well worth the investment, and six aBlogtoWatch readers will get an opportunity to attend this event free of charge. If you live in New York City, its surrounding areas, or plan to find yourself in the Big Apple before the closing of the Reverso Stories Exhibit on November 22nd, simply comment with a valid email address on this article or tag a friend on its corresponding social media post to be entered into a drawing for a free entry into the Reverso Workshop. The tickets and event are available for a limited time so act quickly. Due to the limited nature of this event winners will be selected within 48 hours. All comments made after the end of the giveaway period will not be considered. If you are chosen as a winner, you then have 24 hours to accept or an alternative winner will be chosen. For the full terms and conditions, please click here.