Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Masterful Throwback: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Grande Reverso Ultra-thin Wristwatch

Earlier this month, on December 7th, I posted a NYC holiday tribute to several of the watches that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering this season.  A day later, I opened the December 8th issue of The New Yorker and saw an advertisement for the opening of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Madison Avenue @ 63rd Street Boutique.  I was intrigued by both the ad image (a variation pictured below) and its headline, “Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931.”  So let’s explore historically what’s “in back” of this image and its words.  

Antoine LeCoultre, a Swiss watchmaker founded his first workshop in 1833 in the village of Le Sentier in the Joux Valley, Switzerland.  The business remained a family one marked by innovation and expansion. For example, by 1903 the company was producing the world’s thinnest watch movements.  In 1937, Jaeger became Jaeger-LeCoultre through a merger with the watch division of French marine-chronometer maker, Edward Jaeger.  

But returning to 1931—the year highlighted in The New Yorker advertisement, the firm. That year LeCoultre filed a patent in Paris for a Reverso design. Through a novel swivel system the rectangular watch case could be flipped over allowing its back to protect its movement.  The original impetus for the reverse design came from the British Officer world of polo In India!  There and elsewhere there was a need for players to wear a watch that could survive grueling matches without its crystal being broken.

 It didn’t take long for the Reverso to move off the polo fields and onto women’s wrists.  As Tessa Paul reminds us in her book Watches Eye on Time (Greene Media Ltd. ,2012), “It seems that , at this time, it was not ‘ladylike’ to consult the time in public but with a Reverso a gal did not need to leave her timepiece at home because she could hide the dial as she sipped her cocktail.” 

Throughout its history, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso model line has retained its iconic rectilinear Art Deco geometry reinterpreted and embellished over its eighty-three years.  So it’s an apt ad pairing depicting the watch’s back as the skyline of Manhattan with the Chrysler Building’s Art Deco silhouette. Another poignant coincidence between the Reverso and the Chrysler Building is that the structure was the world's tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.

Throwing it Forward, here is my favorite 2015 contemporary Reverso watch, the Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin. It has a quartz movement, stainless steel case, strap and bracelet, and  a silvered guillochè and Sunray-brushed dial with Bâton (straight stroke) hands.

Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin, Reference 3208120

VERSO: Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin, Reference 3208120


Happy New Year to all of my loyal readers.

May time give you all that you are seeking.

.gnikees era uoy taht lla uoy evig emit yaM

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yuletide Timings: Meet Me at the Met

It seems fitting as the holiday season engulfs us that we mark our meetings with friends by wearing some museum-memorable watches that the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is offering.  I’ve always found the Met as place and space amazing — it's collection expansive yet object-intimate.

However, if you are like me and live way outside of NYC you might want to bring the Met vicariously to your social gatherings.  So consider making an online selection of one of the Met's time pieces to mark your yule’s special moments. 

Here are some of my favorite “love at hand” Met selections that not surprisingly reflect my own Coco Chanel-based proclivity for accessorizing her timeless little black dress with a watch to remember. 

For dressing up for an after-hours holiday toast consider the Met’s  curvaceous French Deco Harlequin Watch. It playfully captures the repeating pattern of black diamonds standing on end against a white enameled background. The coin bracelet allows for an adjustable fit.


As the Met explains, its design derives from “an issue of the Gazette du bon ton: art, modes & frivolités within the Museum's collection, published in 1922. This issue features a page of whimsical Art Deco timepieces in graphic black and white. Our [the Met’s] coiled watch showcases the fashionable harlequin pattern from this original illustration.”  Although the Met doesn’t provide us with a direct reference to its Gazette du Bon Ton 1922 inspiration, it may have come this illustration.



If you like an exotic floral motif done predominantly in black to offset your petite robe noire,  consider the Met’s Japanese Peony Scrolls Watch.  The design derives from “an elaborately decorated maki-e lacquer box lid from the Japanese Edo period (1615–1868), with peony scrolls surrounding a design of hawk feathers." It has an 18K gold overlay case attached to a printed plastic band that adjusts from 5 7/8" to 7 7/8" in length.

Have a penchant for the black cord as a chic link to a bygone era? Prefer a delicate expression of your Parisian sensibility?  Take a look at the Met’s French Evening Watch.  It’s based on a “nineteenth-century French timepiece delicately inset with a diamond border, crown, and a decorative loop . Roman numerals are used to designate the hours.” The Met's watch is produced in cooperation with the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris.

Feel like you’d rather be part of a twentieth century Viennese sensibility? Then go bold and wear the Klimt Black Watch to the season's festivities. Its pattern comes from one of the Met’s printed textiles based on a pattern by Gustav Klimt from his Wiener Werkstätte output. As the Met reminds us, "For nearly thirty years, the workshops produced refined and graphically striking designs, distinctive in their use of flat shapes and bold colors and often incorporating folk art, geometric and architectural motifs, and floral patterns. This watch reflect that design history with its prima facie freshness and vitality that easily says time past can be simultaneously time present and future.

Let me know what your favorite yuletide timing is, be it from the Met or elsewhere.