F you’re wealthy, but had absolutely no flavor, you might buy a Hummer to tootle down to Walmart in. If, however, you have taste and do not want to shout about it, you will drive a Bristol 410 (maybe not the brasher 411) and you will probably use a Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso. That is the type of brand JLC is. It’s sat there in Le Sentier because 1833, quietly doing bogglingly clever and elegant horological things, waiting for people to receive all the bling and bluster out of their systems. Spend some time with severe watchmakers and, more frequently than not, it is a JLC in their wrist. Where most watch companies could fill a couple of desk drawers because of their older calibres, JLC wants a warehouse to get the 1,242 they’ve racked up because Antoine LeCoultre setup shop. And not any old JLC, it turned out to be a diamond-encrusted cal. 101 — nevertheless the smallest mechanical motion on the planet. And this season, their most renowned model — the Reverso — is 85. So last week at London’s Bond Street, JLC and QP Magazine threw a bit of a celebration to celebrate and show off the newest developments.
Jacques-David LeCoultre undertook growth of the motion, and for the case design de Trey enjoyed the assistance of a French designer named René-Alfred Chauvot. His solution was simple: A wristwatch “which can slide on its base and turn over on itself,” in order to safeguard the front part of the case. But, Jaeger did not create rectangular cases at the time — and, even if it had, LeCoultre didn’t yet manufacture a motion which would fit. Therefore, after purchasing the rights to Chauvot’s patent, César De Trey launched Specialités Horlogères with Jacques-David LeCoultre. Their new venture would manufacture the revolutionary layout the old manner, using parts made by experts. The cases were made by A.E. Wenger and the movements by Tavannes. In 1933, LeCoultre would introduce in-house movements intended particularly for the Reverso. Caliber 410 (with small seconds at 6:00) grade 411 (center seconds) debuted along with caliber 404 (a smaller motion intended for women’ Reversos).
The 1990s are when things began getting seriously complex for the Reverso. The recovery in the Quartz Crisis was gaining real momentum and the industry’s leading manufactures were keen to show what they had been capable of. For Jaeger-LeCoultre, time was of the essence. A new manager had joined the business’s artistic department just three years before the Reverso’s 60th anniversary. Janek Deleskiewicz was an industry leader, but the French designer had gently observed and admired the manufacture’s collection when working on jobs for auto manufacturer Citroën, and the TGV — France’s high-speed train.
The 1990s are when things started getting seriously complex for the Reverso. The recovery from the Quartz Crisis was gaining real momentum and also the industry’s leading manufactures were keen to show what they had been capable of. For Jaeger-LeCoultre, time was of the essence. A new manager had joined the company’s artistic department just 3 years ahead of the Reverso’s 60th anniversary. Janek Deleskiewicz was an industry outsider, but the French designer had gently observed and admired the manufacture’s collection when working on projects for automobile manufacturer Citroën, along with the TGV — France’s high-speed train.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first triple calendar with moonphase was, in fact, a rectangular watch, thought not a Reverso. It was the mention 2726, which started in 1949 to commemorate the death of the Jacques-David LeCoultre, only one year before. The opinion had been powered by Caliber 486/AW, a tonneau-shaped movement that later found its way inside circular watches also, such as the one image below, which have been produced in smaller numbers through the 1950s and 1960s.
The Reverso was soon adopted by affluent collectors, not just polo players. Chauvot’s design perfectly permeates the era’s obsession with Art Deco design and combined practicality with personalization (since it was undecorated on the back, the Reverso could, and quite often would, be engraved by clients). However, because Art Deco slowly fell out of favor after World War II, the creation of Reverso watches started to wane until it came to a full stop, to the great chagrin of its fans, throughout the mid-1970s. Buried for nearly a decade, the Reverso had been resuscitated in 1982 when it received a quartz transplant. For the first time, the Maison’s Art Deco icon could be powered by something other than a mechanical motion, but at least it was back on the wrists of collectors. The Reverso Tribute Calendar is the latest opinion to continue this thought. When you turn its reversible case above, what you find isn’t the protection of a good metal back, but rather a second dial beneath an sapphire crystal. But additionally, it presents, for the first time in a Reverso Duo, a complete calendar on the main dial. In pink gold and on an alligator leather strap, it is among the more sophisticated Reversos from the present collection, and it is a far cry from the Reverso launched in 1931 as a sports opinion.