Reverso by Jaeger Le-Coultre is an undisputed icon with its inimitable swivelling case that was designed to protect the watch glass during polo games.
Ahead of its 90th anniversary this year, CEO Catherine Renier made it a point to share the anniversary model last December. Via Zoom, Renier spoke to The Peak from the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland.
Jaeger-LeCoultre chief executive Catherine Renier
What highlights can we expect from the Reverso’s 90th anniversary year?
“Firstly, of course, there is the Tribute model. There will also be a Hybris high-complication model, which we will reveal in April, and there will also be a beautiful Metiers d’art piece. There is a new colour coming, but I can’t say more right now.”
Issued in a limited edition run of 190 pieces, the Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano features a burgundy-red dial (left) and pink gold case and a reverse dial (right) with the stippled texture of Clous de Paris guillochage that displays a day-night indication.
What do you think makes this model such an icon?
“It has a certain simplicity yet is complex in its construction. Today, its design remains loyal to the original from the 1930s. We have kept its gadroons (the horizontal etched lines at the top and bottom of the case) and the clean lines and dials.
The Reverso has also lent itself to creativity in terms of colours, complications and metiers d’art. In 1994, for example, we launched the Duoface, which saw the Reverso having two dials instead of one, through which the watch could show a second time zone.”
Almost immediately after its debut the Reverso became a fashion statement, and various models were created to offer women alternative ways of wearing it. This steel model from 1931 comes with a small leather cord to be attached to a handbag.
Many horological icons have been copied in some form, but the Reverso is an exception, with few imitators. Why do you think this is so?
“I think it’s the complexity of the swivelling case that is only made in our manufacture. It has more than 50 components. To copy a typical case and dial is pretty simple, but to make one that can turn and click while being waterproof and made to high-watchmaking standards?
The complexity is high. There are other watches with cases that can turn but they use different mechanisms – and none of them have the strength of the Reverso’s identity.”
In February this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the 200-page tome Reverso with luxury publisher Assouline to trace the story of one of the wristwatches and explore the social milieu and cultural changes that provided the backdrop to its creation and continued reinvention.
“I own the burgundy Reverso Tribute we launched in 2019 that marked my beginning with Jaeger-LeCoultre (Renier became CEO in May 2018). I intend to have my Tribute engraved with the initials of my family and, in the future, I will give one engraved Reverso Tribute watch to each of my three children when they turn 16.”
Ahead we chart the key moments of this horology icon.
This article first appeared in The Peak