Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

The Reverso is an emblematic watch of the Swiss watchmaking brand Jaeger-LeCoultre created in 1931.



The concept that gave birth to the Reverso was born in 1931 in a British polo club in colonial India. César de Trey, a Swiss citizen, luxury watch distributor and close friend of Jacques-David LeCoultre, then crossing the country for business 1 . At the end of a polo match, one of the players – a British army officer – shows Trey his timepiece with broken ice and challenges him to develop a model that is robust enough to withstand the shocks caused by the practice of polo without have incorrect 2 .

César de Trey entrusted Jacques-David LeCoultre’s conception of the watchmaking movement and the case to the engineer Alfred Chauvot, who deposited on 4 March 1931 a patent for a “watch capable of sliding in its support and capable of turning over itself, Itself . ” 2 . Thanks to this mechanism, the wearer of the timepiece can rotate the case to 180 degrees to protect its dial 2 . The idea revolutionary 3 is called the traditional way – from the Latin “I turn around” – and manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre 4 . The first models are shipped to India for testing by polo players.

Soon, the popularity of the model extends beyond the world of sport 5 . From the 1930s, customers can choose from dozens of models the dial that will adorn their Reverso. If black, silver and white are popular, other colors are also appreciated by some customers, such as brown, blue and red. These colorful designs are, at present, extremely popular collectibles for rare 6 . Today, the watch is recognized by all as a symbol of Art Deco design and an emblematic model of watchmaking history 7

Indeed, before becoming the symbol par excellence of Jaeger-LeCoultre , the Reverso was also marketed under other brands: Cartier , Hamilton , Favre-Leuba , or Patek Philippe 8 .


The commercial and worldly success was immediate Reverso 9 : The Maharaja of Karputala in order to back 50 pieces engraved with his picture once. The protective housing Tipping no longer really justified 10 , the back of the watch is fast becoming the location of all kinds of artistic decorations: enamel , engraving , etc. Yet despite problems of seal 11 due to its design, the manufacturer will recognize later, the Reverso is touted as ” the ideal watch the armies12 . As early as 1933, three new calibres were fitted to the Reverso: the 404 (female model), 410 (with small seconds to 6 hours) and 411 (second core) 13 . In 1937 , Jaeger and LeCoultre merged. The new company bought the premises of Vacheron Constantin 14 in Geneva, where it settled.

Until the war, eleven different calibres were designed for the Reverso 13 . However, the Second World War greatly reduced the luxury trade and after 1945, the model became completely disaffected. The fashion was to the round watches: Wenger finally destroyed the industrial tooling of manufacture of the boxes. The few requests were made with the remaining stock. Until the late 1960s , the Reverso was no more than an outdated symbol of a bygone era and seemed promised to a near disappearance. The era needed more modern symbols. In watchmaking , she had found it in a new Swiss star: the ” Moon Watch

The Renaissance

In the early 1970s , the fate of the entire Swiss watch industry seemed to be sealed: the invasion of Japanese watches and quartz had relegated mechanical watches to the rank of antiques. Jaeger-LeCoultre was not in better position than its competitors and the Reverso seemed the least promising of all its products. In 1972, however, Georgio Corvo, the distributor of Jaeger-LeCoultre in Italy 15 , ordered all the Reverso in stock (200 pieces). Manfred Fritz reports that the manufacture of the trail was so surprised that she asked three times confirmation of the order 16 . Despite the skepticism of the factory, Corvo persisted in relaunching the product. The biggest difficulty came from the disappearance of the former casing manufacturer and the loss of some construction plans. Several manufacturers were approached, only one raised the challenge. It took three years, however, before providing the first buyers of the new Reverso 17 . In 1975, the Reverso became a popular product of the jet-set Italian 18 . From then on, the Reverso knew a success that grew. In 1975, the Reverso became a popular product of the jet-set Italian 18 . From then on, the Reverso knew a success that grew. In 1975, the Reverso became a popular product of the jet-set Italian 18 . From then on, the Reverso knew a success that grew.

Time for Success

After its Italian renaissance, the Reverso knew a growing international craze. In 1991 , Jaeger-LeCoultre launched a “special 60th” model (+13%) on the market while maintaining the proportions of the original model. This event marks the beginning of a systematic exploration of the concept: automatic version, clock operation of the rear face of the case, various complications , new design , etc. Since 2003 , Jaeger-LeCoultre is part of the Richemont group , but the strategic development of the company continues to be heavily focused on Reverso.


Today, thanks to the success of its flagship model, Jaeger-LeCoultre has undertaken to decline it in many variants, some of very fine watchmaking. Most belong to luxury watchmaking 19 . Historically, the Reverso is a hand-wound mechanical watch, but there are now self-winding models , as well as quartz versions (especially in very small female models).

Jaeger-LeCoultre claims to be a Manufacture 20 , it has to equip the different models of Reverso with shapes, elaborated and manufactured by him.

The current range

In 2008, the Reverso range is now 21 :

Models Men

  • Classical: caliber 846 (93 pieces 22 ), the only model that practically resumes the dimensions of the original model;
  • Large Size: 822 gauge (134 pieces);
  • Duoface: caliber 854 (180 pieces);
  • Large Automatic : caliber 970 (233 pieces);
  • Large Date: caliber 875 (218 pieces);
  • Great Sun Moon: caliber 873 (213 pieces);
  • Large GMT : caliber 878 (276 pieces);
  • Squadra 23 Home Time: caliber 977 (234 pieces);
  • Squadra Chonograph GMT : caliber 754 (296 pieces);
  • Squadra World Chonograph : caliber 753 (366 pieces);
  • Great Complication with triptych 24 : caliber 175 (642 pieces);
  • Eclipses: caliber 849 (123 pieces);

Models Woman

  • Dame: caliber 822;
  • Duetto Duo: caliber 854;
  • Duetto classic: caliber 865;
  • Duetto: caliber 844;
  • Squadra Lady 25 ;
  • Various jewelry models ;

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Anne-Sophie Mallard, ” Jaeger-LeCoultre – 180 years of watchmaking creations [ archive ] ,
  2. a , b and c Reverso Jaeger LeCoultre: 75 years and still as young and beautiful [ archive ] ,
  3. ↑ JESSICA MICHAULT, ” The Only Way to Put Time in Reverse [ archive ] ,
  4. ↑ Kristian Haagen, ” Jaeger-LeCoultre – A European Favorite [ archive ] ,
  5. ↑ ” Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso [ archive ] ,
  6. ↑ « Results of the Jaeger-LeCoultre auction organized by Artcurial in Paris »  [ archive ] ,
  7. ↑ ” History of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso [ archive ] , 2012-2013
  8. ↑ Jaeger-LeCoultre has produced many watches under the name of these brands. Reverso. The Living Legend , p.  96-97 . A “Reverso Patek Philippe” is also exhibited at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva .
  9. ↑ A gold Reverso cost 500 francs in Switzerland at the time.
  10. ↑ The first glasses sapphire appear in 1932
  11. ↑ Even today the waterproofing of most models is limited to 3 atm .
  12. ↑ Advertising poster of the 1930s reproduced in The Book of Manufacture , JLC, 1998 edition, p.  45
  13. a and b Franco Cologni, Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Great House , p. 115
  14. ↑ For many years, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin belonged to the same owner, Georges Ketterer.
  15. ↑ The Italian market has always been at the forefront of luxury. Another mythical piece of Swiss watchmaking, the El Primero caliber produced by the firm [[Zenith (company) |]] was also saved under similar circumstances
  16. Reverso. The Living Legend , p.  40
  17. ↑ It was not until 1985, however, that a new case was more reliable than the old one. This new case is produced entirely by Jaeger-LeCoultre
  18. ↑ One of the Milan dealers made an album of all the personalities who bought him a Reverso: Enzo Ferrari , Giovanni Agnelli , Gianni Versace , etc.
  19. ↑ Since 1996, Jaeger-LeCoultre has passed under the control of the group Richemont , a holding Swiss luxury industry, which also owns Vacheron Constantin , IWC , Cartier , Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Panerai, etc.
  20. ↑ In watchmaking , the term “manufacture” is reserved for a company that centralizes and controls the 100% of the manufacture of its watches in its workshops. Today, nobody pretends to be a manufacturer in the strict sense of the term. In the commercial sense, on the other hand, manufacturing qualification is very “bearer”.
  21. ↑ List based on the 2008 catalog of the brand
  22. ↑ The number of pieces per caliber (not the entire watch) is provided in the 2008 catalog of the brand
  23. ↑ Square design, as its Italian name indicates. Until 2006 , the Reverso was always rectangular and the appearance of a square model, which is more respectable size, provoked contrasting reactions. However, according to JLC, the first sketches of the project are illustrated by a square box.
  24. ↑ Its catalog price in platinum version 950 amounts to 464,000 Swiss francs ( sic ).
  25. ↑ Announced beginning of April 2008

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