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Celebrating the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso’s 90th birthday

Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Renier reflects on the making and meaning of an icon.

The Reverso by Jaeger Le-Coultre is an undisputed icon with its inimitable swivelling case that was designed to protect the watch glass during polo games. Ahead of its 90th anniversary this year, CEO Catherine Renier made it a point to share the anniversary model last December. Via Zoom, Renier spoke to The Peak from the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland.

 

  • Reverso Tribute Duo Face Fagliano Limited

    The Reverso Tribute Duo Face Fagliano Limited Edition.

 

What highlights can we expect from the Reverso’s 90th anniversary year?

Firstly, of course, there is the Tribute model. There will also be a Hybris high-complication model, which we will reveal in April, and there will also be a beautiful Metiers d’art piece. There is a new colour coming, but I can’t say more right now.

What do you think makes this model such an icon?

It has a certain simplicity yet is complex in its construction. Today, its design remains loyal to the original from the 1930s. We have kept its gadroons (the horizontal etched lines at the top and bottom of the case) and the clean lines and dials. The Reverso has also lent itself to creativity in terms of colours, complications and metiers d’art. In 1994, for example, we launched the Duoface, which saw the Reverso having two dials instead of one, through which the watch could show a second time zone.

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Many horological icons have been copied in some form, but the Reverso is an exception, with few imitators. Why do you think this is so?

I think it’s the complexity of the swivelling case that is only made in our manufacture. It has more than 50 components. To copy a typical case and dial is pretty simple, but to make one that can turn and click while being waterproof and made to high-watchmaking standards? The complexity is high. There are other watches with cases that can turn but they use different mechanisms – and none of them have the strength of the Reverso’s identity.

With a back that can be engraved, the Reverso has lent itself to meaningful personalisation through the decades. Do you have a personal story to share about this watch?

I own the burgundy Reverso Tribute we launched in 2019 that marked my beginning with Jaeger-LeCoultre (Renier became CEO in May 2018). I intend to have my Tribute engraved with the initials of my family and, in the future, I will give one engraved Reverso Tribute watch to each of my three children when they turn 16.

(Related: The Cartier Vintage collection brings back some of the house’s most unusual watch designs)