The name Jaeger-LeCoultre is well known in the watch-collecting world. This Swiss timepiece manufacturer was founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833, and is known for the elegance and interesting designs of their watches. In fact, this shop has created hundreds of inventions, with over one thousand different movements used over the years. They have created the smallest movement, most complicated wristwatch, and even a nearly-perpetually-moving piece.
Many Jaeger-LeCoultre watches are tributes to older pieces, or have been made in an old-style design. One such watch, released just a few years back, is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Tribute to 1931. It is a good example of the impeccable stylings and timeless design of a watch from this manufacturer – it is essentially a re-release of a watch that was initially released by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1931.
The original Reverso 1931 was developed for polo players in the British Army. Many of them were stationed in India, and they desired a durable, reliable watch that they could play polo while wearing without worrying about it. And JLC delivered. This watch was essentially a sports watch – something not seen before this time – as it boasted a steel construction, a reversible dial and crystal, and a tight strap. These features combined to create a popular timepiece style that remains widely worn to this day.
The tribute to the 1931 Reverso has no major aesthetic changes from the appearance of its predecessor – a testament to the artists at Jaeger-LeCoultre and their attention to detail. They have painstakingly crafted every part of this watch to be clearly reminiscent of the 1931 original. If you set an original and the new version side-by-side, they would be functionally identical. Only a trained eye would be able to tell them apart.
The classic rectangular, reversible case design is made out of stainless steel, much like the original. It gives the JLC Reverso 1931 Tribute a durable, solid look. Plus, the dial, markings, and hands contrast well with the stainless steel of the case, enabling easy readability. It is a rather large case, at 46.8mm by 27.4mm. On the other hand, it is pretty thin, leading to a low weight (and reflecting the intent of the original 1931 Reverso). However, the durability and style of the case more than make up for its size.
The Dial and Hands
The dial is black, with hour markers that have a faux patina applied. These are situated in a rectangle around the outside of the watch, with a double marker at the 12 o’clock position. The hands also have a faux patina treatment, making this watch look even more like a 1931 copy of the Reverso. Notably, there is no seconds hand on this watch – only a minute hand and an hour hand. Also, rather than the usual Jaeger-LeCoultre engraving, the watch is engraved with ‘Reverso’ like the originals.
The rectangular case of the Tribute to the Reverso 1931 necessitates a special kind of movement. Inside of the watch is an oval-shaped movement called the Caliber 822, one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s rarer mechanisms. It is hand-wound, and has 45 hours of reserve power. Though there is no sapphire caseback to examine this mechanism through – as that would ruin the re-issued watch effect they were going for with the Tribute – it will be reliable and accurate, if only because it is a Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Though the Tribute is quite close to the original watch, it does have some subtle changes that a professional collector would notice. For example, the reversing mechanism has been updated to ensure fluid reversals every time. In addition, the engravings in the piece are a bit cleaner and more modern, giving this watch a much classier look. Only one major aesthetic change has taken place. The JLC logo has been added – which really isn’t a downfall, as Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most widely-recognized watchmakers in the world. Few collectors would find reason to quarrel with such a beneficial change from the original Reverso.
One more draw to the Tribute is the handmade cordovan strap. It was created by Casa Fagliano – an Argentinian producer of high-end polo boots. This is a good callback to the original days of the Reverso 1931, and is a great color to ensure an aesthetically-pleasing timepiece.
These watches by Jaeger-LeCoultre come in at around $6 to $8 thousand dollars. This is a fair price for a reliable, rugged timepiece. It is understated enough to be worn daily, and will fit with most styles and levels of dress (casual, professional, etc.) The watch is a beautiful example of what JLC is capable of, and a wonderful tribute to their famous 1931 Reverso. Any Reverso collector would be glad to own this timepiece.