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The Reverso celebrates 85 years of ongoing success
History & Masterpieces

The Reverso celebrates 85 years of ongoing success

Thursday, 07 January 2016
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Carol Besler

“Watches are functional art.”

Carol Besler covers watches and jewelry worldwide.

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4 min read

Prior to the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveil three new editions that pay tribute to its iconic Art Deco Reverso design.

The Reverso has been an ongoing success story for Jaeger-LeCoultre since it was introduced in 1931, a feat few brands can claim. Consult any list of the world’s most iconic watches, and the Reverso is always in the top five, along with the Rolex Submariner and the Cartier Tank. It even has an intriguing origin story: the flip-over case was created for polo players during India’s Raj, to protect their watch dials from the rigors of the game in the days before sapphire crystals. The Reverso’s design is pure Art Deco and the reversible case and carrier system are highly specific, yet the model has been surprisingly adaptable to variations over the years. It has been ultra-thin, highly decorated, quartz and complicated – with both tourbillon and minute repeater versions – and works for both men and women. The Reverso has housed more than 50 different mechanical calibers over the years, which makes perfect sense, given that Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the industry’s most prolific makers of mechanical calibers.

The aesthetic of the Reverso is so distinctive that it stands out from all other watches on the market.
Stéphane Belmont
Strong aesthetic

“The aesthetic of the Reverso is so strong and so distinctive that it stands out from all other watches on the market, making it an iconic design,” says Stephane Belmont, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s product and marketing director. Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates the Reverso legacy this year with new editions to celebrate its 85th anniversary. Prior to the SIHH in Geneva, it has released details the new Reverso Tribute Duoface, Reverso Tribute Calendar, Reverso Classic, the Classic Large Duoface and Classic Duetto. In addition, the brand is introducing automatic movements to a number of previously hand-wound models. At SIHH, it will launch another tribute model, the Reverso One.

The Tribute collection is rich with collectors’ pieces. The Reverso Classic Large Duoface is a contemporary classic, with steel case, and blue and white dual-time dials, with a matching blue strap. The subtle graining of the front dial with blue hour markers and the blue, clous-de-Paris dial of the second dial, both with dauphine hands, adds up to a watch that is elegant, iconic and on-trend all at the same time. The reverse, second-time-zone dial includes a day/night indicator. The movement is JLC manual-wound Caliber 854A/2. On the rose gold version of the Reverso Classic Large Duoface, the day/night indicator is on the front dial, with “Home Time” identified on the second dial. The center of the back dial is distinguished by a central rotor that oscillates round the periphery of the central axis where the hands are positioned. The movement is the automatic Caliber 969.

The Reverso Tribute Calendar front, a complete calendar with day, date, month and moon phase
Little change over the years

The classic gadroons on ladies Reverso models often give way to a row of diamonds, as they should. Rows at top and bottom are set into the back (night) dial of the day-and-night themed Reverso Classic Duetto. It contains the hand-would JLC caliber 844 in the small (15.3mm) size and the automatic Caliber 958A in the medium (20mm) size.

The Reverso Tribute Calendar is the complicated offering. One side displays a traditional complete calendar with a moon phase display. The other has an elegant graphic day/night indicator against an anthracite-colored finish rendered in a gorgeous hobnail pattern. The adjustment button, at six-o’clock on the case bottom, is visible only when the case is swivelled out of the carrier. It contains the manual-wound Caliber 853.

The winning formula has been left intact.

A Classic Reverso is also part of the new lineup, with the traditional guilloched center, gadroons, and second case that is left blank for the purpose of engraving it with a personal message or crest. One option to choose is the “Reverso 85th Anniversary” engraving. It is available in small, medium and large sizes. The subtly reworked lugs are slimmer, and a circular grained motif on the carrier adds refinement.

The design of the Reverso has changed little over the years. The case was redesigned to make the swiveling smoother in the ’90s, and the Squadra series offers the cases in a square version, but otherwise, the winning formula has been left intact. Milestone models have included the Reverso Grande GMT; Grande Reverso 986; Reverso Classique; Reverso grande complication a triptyque; Squadra World Chronograph Polo Fields; and a chronograph with perpetual calendar and minute repeater.

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