Why do I love Reverso? It’s hard to tell. Maybe it has to do with the big impact that “The Thomas Crown Affair” had on me twenty years ago. Or the fact that it is one of the favourite timepieces of my better half. I particularly like the Reverso Duoface version, more precise, the older Ref. 270.8.54. Here are some of my thoughts about it.
The mighty Reverso
It makes no sense to narrate the story of the Reverso once again. There is a plenitude of articles regarding this topic. I will add some links at the end of this article. If you are not in the mood for a big reading session, here are a few facts:
Do you know its legendary story, the origin of its reversing case? At the beginning of the 1930s, the watch was born of a challenge, that of designing a model that could withstand the polo matches of the British Army officers in India. Its dial smoothly concealed by reversing the case, to reveal a back that fully protects the face from possible mallet strokes. It’s worth thinking about… Timeless in its face surrounded by its three emblematic gadroons, the Reverso has been enchanting both men and women with an eye for beauty since its creation. Often androgynous, it knows how to show off its femininity in jewelled models or affirm its masculinity by pronounced complexities and a marked Art Déco aesthetic. – Jaeger-LeCoultre Website
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface was released in 1994. Little I knew about watches back then. I was just a kid. I was wearing, most probably, the cheapest version of Casio available. Back then I was amazed by the light existent in those watches. The minute-repeater were words unavailable in dictionaries, let alone in my mind.
“You’re not boring, I’ll give you that.” – Catherine Banning in The Thomas Crown Affair movie
But later I began to be impressed by watches I saw in the movies. So is the case of the Reverso Duoface from the “The Thomas Crown Affair” movie. I was almost eighteen, the world started to open up, the internet was becoming available. It was a revelation, it was the first time when a watch left such a big impression. So the Duoface of those years remained in some corners of my mind and heart.
Later I discovered the legend of the Reverso. Almost 90 years of history, with ups and downs. It’s a design that entered the history of watches as one of the pieces worn by a large variety of prominent personalities. The watch is delicate enough to pass as a superb lady’s piece but bold enough to go as a classic man’s watch.
For me, the Reverso seemed to pop up in key moments of my life. To remind me of my dream. So, how to describe the Reverso? It is one of those masterpieces, that just like the Cartier Santos and Tank, or the Patek Philippe Calatrava remained as a symbol of elegance for decades. These watches form a constellation that, I consider, must be part of a traditional watch collection.
That time when Reverso was not Jaeger-LeCoultre
One of the most interesting facts in the history of the Reverso is the Ref. 106. Eight Reverso cases were sold to Patek Philippe. To have one of those pieces in my hands will be as ultimate as owning the fabulous Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon®. I have no idea if I will even get the chance to play with the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon®, not saying to own it. By the way, the Tribute is one of my grails.
The same, but different! Different, but the same!
The design of the Reverso was not unique in its launch era. In 1931, Cartier created its own version of “Reverso” – the lovely Cartier Tank Basculante. Based on a similar idea of a reversible case. Check this article of Geo Cramer for Revolution: 100 Years of the Cartier Tank. There is also a more modern version of the Basculante, which I find extremely cute and lovable. It’s on my list of future acquisitions. I guess, if Cartier will relaunch Basculante, it will be a major success between collectors. But for the masses, Reverso remains much more recognisable.
An interesting characteristic of the watch is the transformation, over the years, from a sporty, robust watch into a classic dress watch. Now, when a watch is not a tool anymore, but a piece of jewellery. The Ref 270.8.54 is powered by the manual wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 854. This movement proved its robustness for more than a decade. This calibre was replaced, in the later versions of Duoface, with an improved version, the 854/1 (rectangular button version).
Some final considerations
The Duoface is a two-in-one watches. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface Night&Day offers you two very different dials that can be available with a flip anytime. And I love that. I can “change” my watch without even remove it from my wrist.
Any collector has its preferences. Some say Rolex is a must, others say independents are a must. I say you must just follow your heart and enjoy your favourite piece, or pieces. I enjoy my Duo, it makes me feel complete.
The history of Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
Every article has its own pluses and minuses, but all are interesting and deserve the time:
- Govberg Watches Blog – Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso: A complete history
- Monochrome Watches – Watchtime Wednesday: The History of Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
- Time and Watches – History of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
- Jaeger-LeCoultre – The story of Reverso
For the news version of Reverso, please check the Jaeger-LeCoultre Website.