Jaeger-LeCoultre Launches 'a Year of Reverso'
In 2021 Jaeger-LeCoultre will celebrate the 90th anniversary of its most famous watch, the Reverso. Distinguished by its rectangular-case-within-a-case and its Art Deco stylings, the Reverso’s key feature is, of course, its flip-over face.
Developed for fashion conscious ‘sporting gentleman’ – which in 1931 meant polo players – this quirk allowed the watch face to be reversed against the wrist, affording some protection as men on horseback whacked a ball about during the Raj.
What was born a sports watch has become a dress watch: today’s Reverso fans tend to be dapper actors (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Pierce Brosnan) rather than equestrian sportsmen.
For the first 60 years, the Reverso’s reverse side was plain steel, and sometimes engraved with a message or monogram. The 1991 “60eme” model was the first to feature a display case back, while the 1994 Reverso Duoface added a second dial to the reverse side – something that would become a signature complication. In 2006, Jaeger-LeCoultre added a third display on the inside of the base for the Reverso Grande Complication à Triptyque.
“It remains one of the few icons in watchmaking,” Jaeger-LeCoultre’s CEO Catherine Rénier said during a recent Zoom conversation. “It really symbolizes elegance and sophistication – a symbol of our inventiveness and expertise as a maison.”
To tee-up “a year-long celebration of Reverso” Jaeger-LeCoultre has announced a version of its Reverso Tribute Duoface with a burgundy-red dial and a pink gold case. The limited-edition watch comes on a leather and canvas strap by Casa Fagliano, the venerable Argentinian footwear brand known for its polo and riding boots – each one cut by hand.
The Reverso may owe its enduring appeal to maths. Developed at the end of the Art Deco movement, the visual design style that prioritized flat surfaces, simple lines, and geometric shapes, its rectangular case follows the principals of "the golden ratio" – a "universal formula for beauty" where the ratio of the longer side to the shorter side is at its most aesthetically pleasing. (The Parthenon, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and Bella Hadid’s face are said to be other examples.)
“We will celebrate all the aspects of Reverso [next year],” Rénier said. “It’s like a book, of which we will turn the page along the year. We start with the font cover and the look, style, and expression of design of the timepiece and we turn the page, going deeper with the complications and the movement. We will have a high complication revealed in a few months and we will continue with a lot of celebrations – we are really on a yearlong history of what has made the versatility and the creativity of this timepiece.
“What we loved with this first revelation was the celebration of style and how the case of Reverso, while looking extremely simple in terms of lines and shape, is in fact very complex in the making and the design. It has lasted through the years, with very subtle adjustments. We felt this was very nice as a start.”
The Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano Limited is limited to 190 watches. jaeger-lecoultre.com
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.