Iconic Watches: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

By Montredo in Lifestyle
March 31, 2021
Iconic Watches: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Born as a rugged sports watch that could withstand the game of polo but eventually evolving into a refined dress watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is one of the most recognizable watch designs ever made.

Brief History of the Reverso

In the late-1920s, Swiss businessman, César de Trey, was in Colonial India taking care of his watch distribution business for that market. Whilst there, de Trey witnessed British officers play polo. Known as the “Sport of Kings,” polo is a fast-paced game with high-speed horses, swinging mallets, and competitive players. As a result, it is particularly dangerous for dainty wristwatches, which would regularly get smashed up during a match.

As the legend goes, the British officers asked César de Trey to develop a durable yet elegant watch that could sustain knocks and remain intact. Subsequently, César de Trey turned to his friend and watchmaker, Jacques-David LeCoultre.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
From elegant to sturdy in a matter of seconds.

Together, the pair unveiled the Reverso watch in 1931, complete with a patented swivel case. The Reverso case was developed so that it could turn onto itself when necessary to tuck away the fragile dial-side and expose the tough metal caseback. That meant that polo players could rotate the Reverso to reveal either the caseback or the dial depending on if they were playing a game or not.

Evolution of the Reverso

Thanks to the Reverso’s sleek rectangular lines, Art Deco style, and clever reversible case, this Jaeger-LeCoultre watch quickly became a favorite amongst non-Polo players too. Today, it is considered as an elegant dress timepiece rather than a sports watch and the brand’s most iconic watch.

Over the decades, Jaeger-LeCoultre has made a vast assortment of Reverso watches ranging in sizes for men and women. Particularly popular iterations are the Reverso watches that have two dials—Reverso Duoface for men and Reverso Duetto for women.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface
Ref. 3988482: One and the same watch.

Whether in steel or gold, time-only or complications, the Reverso collection may be varied but the watch is always distinguishable.

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About the author

Celine Simon
Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland – the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls the beaches of Southern California home.

Previous comments (5)

  1. What’s not to love about a watch that has been designed with the golden “height-to-width” ratio in mind?
    A true icon.

    August 4, 2020
  2. Pure class, thanks for the write-up!
    Will always be one of my favs 🙂

    August 5, 2020
  3. Legends never die.
    Same is true for the Reverso.

    August 17, 2020
  4. Watches should be round – Change my mind.

    September 29, 2020
  5. I’d take the Tank over the Reverso any time of the day, more classic imo.

    October 12, 2020