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

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