Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso - An irreversible and fascinating timekeeper
Every watch legend has an equally fascinating story that accompanies it. A hook grabs your attention and pulls you into the tale. In the case of the Reverso, it’s an account of a British officer in India, whose watch glass was scratched during a round of Polo. A mix of commissioned work, inspiration, and the ambition of a watchmaker led to the conception of a timepiece on a swiveling case which could protect its face from damage. Thus the Reverso was invented. Today, it is the non plus ultra Art Deco classic and definitely can proudly takes its rightful place, as the worldwide most famous of all non-round watches. With its square shaped cases, it’s an ideal timekeeper for all those searching for a very elegant and unique timepiece. Especially when it shouldn’t be small, too flashy, or feel out of place when strapped on the wrist.
It also never manages to be too small, nor win the upper hand when worn. It’s classic, fashionable, and definitely never boring. Particularly noteworthy is that there’s hardly any models that function as both watches for both gentlemen and ladies. The Reverso’s rotating cases makes it practically pre-destined as a watch for engraved endearments. However, there’s only a handful of early Reverso models that have no engraving upon them. This in turn, has only increased their popularity. Reverso models come in varying sizes and with additional mechanical functionality. To be honest: entire books could probably be written about the Reverso. Actually, come to think of it, they already have been, penned by the author Jaeger-LeCoultre itself. Just like IWC and its nearly 200 page e-book on the Portugieser, the Reverso has an entire tome dedicated too it.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso broken down into numbers - Top 5 Facts
38: 38 x 24 exclusive crown including lugs
Its design has remained over the years largely unchanged. Even the size of the Reverso Classique with its 38 x 24 millimetres is the same today as it was in the past. It should be noted, that the Reverso isn’t deceptive with its size stats. In reality the watches appear to be somewhat smaller than they actually are as the lugs aren’t disruptive and usually conform well to the case size dimensions.
4: Ball sports on four legs
The Reverso has a rotating case, which was originally developed for British officers in India who often shattered or scratched their watches during a round of Polo. The watch’s case was simply turned, whenever the glass of the timekeeper needed to be protected during the game. The Reverso quickly became an icon of Art Deco as well as a very popular watch among the upper crust of society. It defines itself with very clear, geometric forms. It’s also one of the first concepts of what are nowadays known as Art Deco watches: classic, elegant timepieces with square or tonneau-shaped cases that originate from this period in time. The Reverso’s design is more prominent from other approaches to this visual art style not just because of its rotating case, but also the three thin lines above and below the dial, which are also one of its particularly unique features.
150: A rich variety of 150 characteristics
Even though the Reverso is visually very distinct, at the same time, it also offers up a lot of variety. If the quadratic Reverso line of watches, known as Reverso Squardra, is also counted among its numbers, than the collection clocks in with a total of 150 different models. There are versions which offer varying sizes, watch materials, and a broad spectrum of functionality. For example, the Standard-Reverso (Classique) as well as the larger sized Reverso versions (Grande Taille, Grande Reverso, and the Grande Revers Ultra Thin). There are also timepieces with a substantial amount of diverse complications e.g. minute repeater and perpetual calendar.
The Reverso’s variety is truly remarkable, especially when it’s kept in mind that the diversity of its program also requires an equally large volume of diverse movements that have been solely designed for the Reverso collection. As the epitome of a high end timekeeper, it’s a prime example of a watch which incorporate precious metals. The Reverso is a classic hand wound timepiece, due in large part to its upright, square shaped design and its rotating case. It also requires a relatively thin calibre construction and due to its thin case dimensions, it only has room for smaller sized winding rotors. Today, the Reverso comes, alongside quartz and hand winding models, in versions with automatic movements.
2: A duet of two watch faces
The gentlemen’s (Duoface) and the ladies (Duetto) versions both have double the amount of dials of most other wristwatches. Both faces display the time, compared to more complicated watches, where additional functionality is displayed on the second dial. The best example of this is the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon which has a star studded night sky on its back side. Both of the Reverso dials really only differ in their styles, usually because one is light and the other dark toned. It’s a watch that can easily conform to the entire wardrobe of its wearer.
3: Three dimensional tourbillon hommage
On the 175th anniversary of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s founding, a limited edition of the Reverso Gyrotourbillon II (75 pieces) was released. Just like the model presented four years before, the Gyrotourbillon I, the watch has a tourbillon and two cages that rotate three dimensionally on two axles and which smooth out the impact of gravity. The watch has a case made of platinum and it won numerous awards e.g. at the Grand Prix d'Horlogérie for the best complication. Another anniversary Reverso is the Reverso Tribute to 1931, launched on the 80th anniversary of the collection. It’s a Reverso without the iconic curved Jaeger-LeCoultre lettering on the watch’s dial. At the same time, the chocolate brown tribute to 1931 was a homage on the counterpart that was actually produced a few years later in 1935. Since then, limited editions with the year of birth have come out on the market.
A Chronology of the Reverso
1931: The Jaeger-LeCoultre turns the watch world upside down with its rotating case.
1933: The Reverso officially becomes a part of the brand’s portfolio.
1934: The Reverso receives a small second and even today, it’s still a part of the offerings.
1972: An Italian wholesaler asks Jaeger-LeCoultre to produce a Reverso series and it uses old cases it had in storage. The official relaunch of the Reverso, whose production was occasionally halted, followed 10 years later in 1982.
1982: The Reverso is officially absorbed back into the Jaeger-LeCoultre program with a square shaped version in 1982.
1985: The Reverso receives a face lift as well as a new water resistant case.
1994: The Reverso receives a trademark version with two different dials, known as the Duoface. The Reverso can now, according to preference, be worn with either a light or dark toned face.
1997: The ladies version (Duetto) follows closely in the footsteps of the gentlemen’s version (Duoface) with two distinct dials.
2008: The Reverso Gyrotourbillon II is launched and wins awards at the Grand Prix d'Horlogérie.
2011: The Reverso Tribute 1931 is launched on the 80th anniversary of the Reverso. This timepiece doesn’t have any Jaeger-LeCoultre lettering and comes equipped with a brown cordovan leather watch strap in a limited edition of 100 pieces. The 1931 line followed up with a sequel in the next year.
2014: At SIHH, the Richemont corporation watch fair and to which Jaeger-LeCoultre belongs, an additional Reverso Tribute to 1931 is presented, along with a smooth, cordovan leather watch strap.