Introduced in 1931, the Reverso was born out of functional necessity. Its purpose stemmed from a common complaint by British officers stationed in India, often disgruntled by the damaging of their wristwatch glass during polo matches. Swiss businessman and brand associate of the time, César de Trey, conveyed this message to his supplier Jacques-David LeCoultre, bringing about a solution in the form of a wristwatch that had a swiveling face, allowing the case to be ‘reversed’ over in order to protect the glass. It was actively promoted “Pour Les Heures D’Activites Physique”, and is unofficially classified as the ‘first sports watch’.
Fast forward to 2011, the Grande Reverso 1931 “Rouge” was inspired by a highly collectable, red enamel dial variation from the 1930s. The watch
was revealed at the new Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique in Milan when it opened. The red dial version had enjoyed universal acclaim amongst collectors and brand enthusiasts before manufacturing ceased in 2015. Since then, its value has only increased.
This Grande Reverso 1931 is sized at a contemporary 46.8mm x 27.4mm and has a distinctive, stepped, rectangular case. The iconic reversible housing features angular, straight lugs and is polished throughout. The case back is brushed and displays the manufacture's signature, along with ‘REVERSO’ and ‘Edition Spéciale Rouge’ and its unique reference numbers. On the reverse side, the case-back is highly polished, with a classically untouched surface.
The “Rouge” lacquer dial is a vibrant crimson red and has a fluid glossy finish. The applied, rhodium-plated, polished struck hour-markers compliment the dial tone, coordinating perfectly with the traditional baton handset. It also has its original signed crown, and comes equipped its original black alligator strap and JLC-stamped tang buckle.
This Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is powered by the 21-jewel Cal. 822 manual-winding movement, beating at a rate of 21,600 A/h, boasting a power reserve of up to 45 hours. It has a ‘KIF’ shock-protection system protecting the 2.94 mm form mechanism, equivalent to that of Incabloc. The reliability of the Cal. 822 is considered comparable with the Cal. 89, the tried and tested calibre manufactured between the 1940’s-70’s, famed for its horological contribution.
The Reverso was somewhat of a utilitarian solution to a practical problem, but has since reinvented itself into a contemporary dress watch, fully retaining its identity. Throughout its 86 year production run, the dial has often proved the canvas on which Jaeger-LeCoultre have experimented and redefined itself. The “Rouge” encapsulates this is the best possible way.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.