The enduring allure of Jaeger-LeCoultre's Reverso

By Dimitri Tsilioris , February 22 2019

In an increasingly crowded world of watches – brash new brands, bold new skews, reinterpretations of classic models – Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso is the quintessential quality timepiece.

The Reverso began life in the early 1930s, created initially to meet the challenges of withstanding the brute force of a full-blown polo match played between the British Army officers in India.

With the innate ability to be “reversed” – the watch's face flipped over to avoid damage during the game – the Reverso’s appeal grew over the years from a functional perspective to one that is now based on affection, if not sheer adoration, and the unique story behind a watch borne out of necessity.

The purity of the Reverso shines through in every piece of the longstanding collection.

From the complicated Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon and the masterful Reverso Tribute Tourbillon to the minimalist Reverso Classic, the distinct rectangular case and art-deco style of the timepiece is one literally for the ages.

Not just a pretty face, or even two

One of my favourite versions of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most charismatic timepieces is the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds.

Presented in a very conservative stainless-steel case, the Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds has two very distinct and very functional dials. The front dial features a guilloché-patterned finish atop its silvered dial and Arabic numerals, whilst the back dial has a black, Clous de Paris guilloche dial and baton hour-markers.

Adding to its appeal, both dials of the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds has some pretty useful functionality.

The front side displays the passing hours and minutes in the centre stack of bâton hands, along with the passing seconds displayed in the sub-dial register at the bottom of the dial.

The back dial features a second timezone display, along with a 24-hour day/night indicator, displaying whether it is night or day in the home country.

There is an enormous amount of detail throughout the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds, evident on both dials as well as on the stainless-steel case.

The front dial features a bunch of textural differences with strong appeal to my micro-lust, while the black dial is a subtler affair, again featuring different textures and finishes, but on the whole presenting itself far more discreetly.

Aesthetically, the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds is divine, and from a mechanical standpoint  it's just as faultless. The single manually-wound movement comprises only 160-components ticking along, yet providing you with an enormous amount of useful information.

Watches are not made in the same vein as they may have been decades ago, but the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds continues to express its own pragmatic and purposeful values from what is arguably watchmaking’s finest atelier.

Dimitri

Dimitri Tsilioris is a Sydney-based watch writer enthralled by the intricate world of tiny mechanisms, who suspects he’ll never find the ‘perfect’ watch but will never give upon searching for it.

Bernoulli

Bernoulli

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 35

Thanks: a great review of a terrific watch! Am interested to know which is the model in the photo second from the top of the review (black dial)?

Ian_from_HKG

Ian_from_HKG

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 114

Dmitri, you are a man of taste!


I fell in love with Reversos many years ago, but wanted a Duoface where I really loved BOTH dials, and on most of them I loved only one. Interestingly, the one I eventually found (and bought, and which (unless I am boating, on the beach or by the pool - it isn't waterproof!) I wear every single day, is quite similar to the Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds, but IMHO just a little more special (quite apart from being a limited edition) - the Geographique.

The basic designs of both faces are the same as the Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds, but the "main" face also features a sun-and-moon indicator at the top, while the small seconds dial is round. The reverse face, rather than having baton hour-markers, has Arabic numerals in a more florid typeface, which (together with the hands) are luminous. It also has three additional indicators - a +/- GMT indicator and two other arc-shaped displays showing city timezones - which of these two you look at depends on what is shown on the +/- GMT indicator. It is in rose gold, supposedly, but looks like a rich yellow gold. Most impressively, though, it has a button on the side which makes the hour hand (and all the other indicators) on the reverse side jump - absolutely perfect for the frequent traveller! I love it. The most expensive thing I have ever bought apart from homes and boats, and worth every single penny. In fact it is the most expensive piece of jewellery we own, far outpacing anything the Memsahib has!! Albeit I only have one other piece of jewellery (a signet ring), so overall she is a bit better off than I am :-)

I should also add that they are catastrophically expensive when things go wrong, and because of the complications of the Duoface they generally only repair them at the Manufacture (that's what they call it) in Switzerland, which takes several months. That's a real pain, and worth bearing in mind for the potential owner. Having had to have it repaired several times (a couple of times under warranty, and a couple of other times besides, albeit one of those was after I dropped it) I can tell you it is a painful experience!

bobloblaw

bobloblaw

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 17

I've always admired JLC's Reverso line and consider it to be under the radar and great value for money (if there is such a thing for luxury watches). But I would recommend trying it on before buying. I so wanted to purchase one but the rectangular shape just did not fit my wrist and looked odd.

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