Coinciding with the opening this month of the immersive Reverso pop-up exhibition in New York entitled “Reverso Stories,” the Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre unveils two Métiers d’ Art masterpieces in its iconic Reverso collection. The stunning hand-enameled timepieces pay homage to the celebrated 19th-century Japanese artist, Hokusai, and his works. Both of the watches feature hand-painted waterfalls found in the Japanese countryside.
The works of art are reproductions of woodblock prints made by the artist: “The Waterfall at Ono on the Kisokaido Road” and “The Waterfall Where Yoshitsune Washed His Horse at Yoshino in Yamato Province.” They stem from a series of eight ukiyo-e-style paintings, titled “A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces” and made by Hokusai in the mid 1800s. On one side of the reversible timepiece, the watch dial—showcasing guilloche and Grand Feu enameling—is visible, while on the reverse side, the miniature paintings flaunt their beauty. “The Waterfall at Yoshino” watch emulates a Japanese story wherein a General stopped to rest his horse in the mid 1100s. The waterfall is curved in a way that is designed to express the force of the water coming through the valley. It is surrounded by trees in vivid colors. The dial side of this watch boasts a lozenge-shaped guilloche dial painted with a rich green translucent Grand Feu enamel. On one side of the reversible timepiece, the watch dial—showcasing guilloche and Grand Feu enameling—is visible, while on the reverse side, the miniature paintings flaunt their beauty. “The Waterfall at Yoshino” watch emulates a Japanese story wherein a General stopped to rest his horse in the mid 1100s. The waterfall is curved in a way that is designed to express the force of the water coming through the valley. It is surrounded by trees in vivid colors. The dial side of this watch boasts a lozenge-shaped guilloche dial painted with a rich green translucent Grand Feu enamel. Jaeger-LeCoultre specializes in what it calls Métiers Rares and has an entire department dedicated to the art in its Le Sentier, Switzerland, workshops. The artistic dedication and technique required to paint such miniatures on the case backs is substantial; it involves a minimum of 14 layers of enamel to be painted, and each must be fired before moving on to the next level. The firing in a kiln can result in bubbles or marks if not done under extreme care and precision. In total, it takes about 80 hours to complete one painting. The paintings are created to a scale of one-tenth of the original. For the dial side, the brand combines its intricate hand guilloché tradition with Grand Feu enamel painting that requires painstakingly accurate work. In fact, for the Waterfall at Yoshino lozenge-shaped barely corn pattern, more than eight hours of painstaking precision is required for the guilloche alone. The layering, firing and drying of the enamel requires another eight hours done over the course of a week. Both Reverso Tribute watches are crafted in 18-karat white gold and house the manually wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 822. Just 10 of each will be made.
Eastern art and cultural motifs have been frequently visited and incorporated into Jaeger-LeCoultre’s time-telling offerings ever since its early days. A more recent example is the special edition Reverso Tribute that was unveiled around the Lunar New Year time back in 2022. On the piece’s enamel caseback is a tiger motif, illustrated in a Chinese watercolor-art style. This time around, Jaeger-LeCoultre pays homage to the great ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai with two limited-edition Reverso Tribute wristwatches.
Similar to previous Reverso Tribute iterations, the new editions are built with dual faces. On one side, boasts a guilloché dial that is adorned with sleek hour markers and dauphine hands. On the other side, the watch showcases a miniature enamel painting. Two versions are created with each featuring a different iconic wood-block art from the legendary Japanese artist.
The Waterfall at Yoshino edition captures a snapshot from a famous Japanese tale about the heroic yet tragic life of General Minamoto no Yoshitsune. When it’s on its primary watch face, this edition can be differentiated from its sister reference with its Lozenge guilloché dial. The Waterfall at Ono edition is outfitted with Barleycorn guilloché, while the caseback depicts the renowned waterfall with a powerful sense of life.
Equipped with black alligator straps and are capable of running for 42 hours when fully wound via the 822 caliber. Both references are limited to 10 examples per design and are now available for inquiry via the Maison’s official website.