Given its refined and elegant design, the Reverso might not strike one as a sporty timepiece. Yet history would tell us otherwise, as it was born a little more than 90 years ago on the polo fields of India. Its iconic rectangular swivelling case was meant to hide the watch’s crystal on the underside, so that it remains protected from stomping hooves, swinging mallets, and errant balls.
And it did the job beautifully, pun fully intended. The Reverso’s Art Deco-inspired design transcends generations, seemingly immune to the passage of time. To this day, it remains singular in style and unique in identity within an industry that’s always partial to pastiche, homage, and creative cannibalisation.
Says Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Rénier, “We have had a lot of creativity, a lot of colourful interpretations of the face of Reverso, and this has been one of the ways to personalise and pay tribute to the very unique relationship one can build with his watch.
The Reverso is a perfect canvas, as the verso of the watch can be adorned with engraving, micro painting, enamelling… and really celebrate for the owner of the watch a moment in life, a memory… This is one of the very unique features of this collection.”
Indeed, unlike other icons of the modern watchmaking era, there isn’t anything remotely similar to the Reverso apart from what the maison has produced for other watch companies. As Nicholas Foulkes mentions in his coffee table tome, Reverso, eight Reverso cases had been sold to Patek Philippe between December 1931 and April 1932. During this period, Cartier, Hamilton, Favre Leuba, and Vacheron Constantin had also acquired and sold Reverso watches.
Rénier believes the reason why the Reverso remains incomparable today goes back to its one-of-a-kind architecture. She explains, “This swivelling case is only made in our manufacture. There isn’t anybody today who’s able to make such a complex case.”
The Reverso’s Art Deco-inspired design transcends generations, seemingly immune to the passage of time.
The Reverso case alone is made up of 50 individual components, all of which work together in perfect harmony. Anyone who owns a Reverso remembers the first time he or she turns the case around to reveal the back. That satisfying “click” when you secure the case in position makes for some of the best memories of owning this timepiece.
Through the years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has made countless Reverso references. Some are defined by simplicity (on the outside, at least) such as the Reverso One Casa Fagliano and others by incredible technical complexity such as the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon. With 2021 being the year it celebrates its 90th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre will be releasing more exciting variations in the months ahead.
Like the original watch, they promise to fuse practicality with creativity, offering time on the front, and anything from a second time zone to an artistic rendition of a secret message on the verso side, so there’s literally something good at every turn.