Jaeger-LeCoultre‘s Reverso, introduced in 1931, is a legitimate icon in the watchmaking world. Originally designed for polo players fed up with smashing the glass on their watches, the Reverso provided a clever solution in the form of a swivelling protective case. With its sleek Art Deco personality and two faces, the Reverso embraces its original vocation as a sports watch and reappears this year with a chronograph, retrograde minutes and a second time display. Powered by a new in-house movement – the calibre 860 – the Reverso Tribute Chronograph, in pink gold and steel cases, draws inspiration from the first Reverso chronograph of 1996.
Coinciding with the Reverso’s 60th anniversary in 1991, an ambitious plan was implemented to release six complicated Reverso models in ten years. The timing of these releases was a clear signal that the destructive avalanche of cheap quartz movements had not decimated the potential to start building classical watchmaking complications again. Four years in the making, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Chronographe Retrograde appeared in 1996. Not only was it the first shaped chronograph movement in a rectangular case for JLC, but it was the first manual-winding integrated chronograph to be developed from scratch in the post-quartz era – even beating A. Lange & Söhne to the finish line with its L951.1. If you are interested in the full story of calibre 829, we have a fascinating, in-depth article in our Collector’s Corner. Below, the 1996 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Chronographe Retrograde and its impressive calibre 829.
Among a handful of new Reverso releases for Watches and Wonders 2023, the good house of Jaeger-LeCoultre has announced a Reverso chronograph in the 1930s-themed aesthetic of their beloved “Tribute” models. Furthermore, it does exactly as it says on the tin and comes in a stainless steel version. The other option is rose gold. Both versions measure 49.4 (lug to lug), 29.9 wide, and 11.14mm thick and offer both a classic time-only dial or – in Reverso – a skeletonized dial with a large chronograph seconds measure and a 30-minute retrograde indication for the chronograph minutes. The steel model has grey-blue accents while the gold example has black and gold accents.
This functionality is offered by a brand new movement, the JLC 860, which is manually wound and supports a power reserve of 52 hours. And, though the first Reverso chronograph dates back to 1996, this new movement leans into the Tribute of it all by enabling a synchronized time display (hours and minutes) for both of the dials. Think about that. That means that one of the dials is essentially running backward (at least as far as the movement is concerned). Cool stuff. I know I say this with some frequency, and also that it is my job, but I am really pumped to see the Reverso Tribute Chronograph in person. Not only do I rather love a complicated Reverso, but I also have even more love for those that manage two very different looks between the two available dials. As such, the offer of a single steel Reverso with both an elegant time-only dial and a complicated skeletonized chronograph dial, offers a specific and strong appeal. As much as I’ve long loved the Reversos that tracks a different time zone for each of the dials, this specific pairing feels so versatile, fun, and nerdy – not to mention just how uncommon it is to see a Reverso with a chronograph. It’s like sport more for your watch. Or dress mode for your sporty watch. I can’t decide, but I dig it nonetheless. Especially thanks to the option of the steel version with its grey-blue accents and matching Fagliano leather strap.