Reflections on watchmaking through the lens of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
There’s a unique duality in the field of watchmaking. On one hand, the creation of any timepiece demands technical expertise, from how its case is machined to how the movement is regulated. The other side of the coin concerns aesthetics; no watch is complete without a functional, cohesive design that’s also pleasing to the eyes.
In these areas, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso has succeeded admirably. The model celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and has grown to become an icon that sets the gold standard in balancing – and mastering – the technical and aesthetic demands of watchmaking.
A study in the Reverso’s status as an icon is perhaps best done with the new Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano. This timepiece bears all the hallmarks of the archetypal Reverso, beginning with the rectangular reversible case that’s defined by smooth, polished flanks and matching gadroons on its top and bottom.
Unlike the original Reverso, which was rendered in steel with a plain case back to allow the main “face” of the watch to be protected during spirited polo games, the model here comes updated with several luxurious touches. The pink gold case is an obvious giveaway, of course, and so is the second time zone display on the case back’s dial. The latter is dominated by greys and silvers, with Clous de Paris guillochage providing visual interest, and offers a striking contrast to the front dial’s lacquered burgundy. Such an execution doesn’t just offer an update to the original’s design, but also perfectly captures the spirit of the Reverso.
A two-tone strap in cordovan leather and canvas, designed and hand-crafted by Casa Fagliano, completes the package in this watch. It is available exclusively at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques, and has a limited production run of just 190 pieces worldwide.
The Reverso One Duetto High Jewelry takes the Reverso’s concept in an entirely new direction by reimagining the model as a high jewellery piece – with two very different sides, naturally. For a start, this watch’s case and cradle has been set with baguette-cut diamonds that nonetheless retains hallmarks such as the gadroons. The result is a highly feminine timepiece that, curiously, still retains the technical nature of the Reverso by demonstrating Jaeger-LeCoultre’s gem-setting expertise.
The theme of a high jewellery watch continues on the timepiece’s front face, where a simple mother-of-pearl dial with black Arabic numeral indices offers at-a-glance legibility. Note the Art Deco-esque motif that delineate the corners on the dial – it’s a subtle touch, but an elegantly decorative one nonetheless. The back face of the watch offers dramatic contrast in the form of an aventurine dial adorned with a radiating pattern of brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds. The difference is almost night and day, and gives this timepiece unparalleled versatility for different occasions.
The Reverso’s story cannot be told with just two watches, of course. For a look into how it’s served as a platform for Jaeger-LeCoultre to showcase its innovative side, one need only to look at the Reverso Tribute Nonantième. The front face of this watch offers the time alongside a large date display (an especially tricky complication for a shaped watch), as well as a moon phase indicator embedded with the small seconds sub-dial. The back face is altogether different with a digital semi-jumping hour and minutes tracked on a rotating disc, and a day/night indicator to boot. It’s a playful yet complex exploration of how the time can be presented in different ways – even within the same watch.
The Reverso Classic Duetto, on the other hand, is an exercise in style and design given its various touches. The two rows of diamonds set on the case frames the front dial, which has a sunray guilloché pattern in its centre framed by a railway track chapter ring, all set within a larger grained dial. The same “two-tone” execution appears on the back, where a sunray-brushed texture sits in the middle against an outer portion with a sunray guilloché pattern, which echoes the design of the front dial.
These watches, and more, are each a chapter of the Reverso’s story, which continues to be written today. To keep pace with its prolific output of timepieces, Jaeger-LeCoultre has likewise developed its retail channels to better serve its clients. Singapore’s boutiques, for instance, now offer telephone shopping to supplement their existing e-commerce services. With this, clients can speak with sales advisors over the phone for assistance and guidance in making their online purchases, thus bringing the online shopping experience even closer to that of being physically at a store.
Artwork and additional stylised images by Curatedition.