|Year of production (circa)||
36 x 26 mm
Original steel folding clasp
Original box, papers & service papers
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille Ref. 278.862
So back in the day…
Art Deco is a melting pot of different styles, sometimes even contradictory styles. People had a longing to be modern. It had a big influence on the Interior, jewellery, architecture, etc. That is how it started. It became a little bit different early 1930s, the time of the great depression, and it became more subdued. Curving forms and smooth, polished surfaces.
Polo was a big sport in those days, but no watch could withstand the rough circumstances that came with it. So there was a challenge to complete. Cesar de Trey, watch collector and businessman, took on the task together with Jacques-David LeCoultre. And the Reverso was soon born.
The Reverso we show you are the slightly larger variation, the Grande Taille. From the year 2009 with original box, papers, and service papers. Beautiful design for a stylish watch lover!
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To understand the odd design of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, we have to travel to India, 1930. Watch collector and business man Oscar de Trey was watching British army officers play a game of polo. One of them broke his watch’s crystal during the match and challenged Oscar to come up with a design that would survive the rough sport.
De Trey dreamed up a watch that would be reversible and met up with Jacques-David LeCoultre to get it done. He would supply the movements for these watches. Edmond Jaeger (who would later merge with LeCoultre in 1937) was contracted to build the cases. A designer by the name of René-Alfred Chauvot was hired to develop the basic idea into a working design. His unique reversible watch case was patented in 1931. The case could slide out of its cradle and be turned over, exposing a metal backplate, rather than the delicate crystal and dial. The Reverso was born.
If you have a look at this 1931 art deco design, you will instantly recognize the modern Reverso. The case shape has hardly changed and the original was already rather substantial; the same size as the modern Reverso classique. Of course many variations were introduced, among which a 1935 update with a square sub-dial for the seconds.
The backplate of the Reverso was often used for personal engravings or enamel decorations. It took until 1994 before JLC would house two dials and sets of hands within a single Reverso, creating the duo-face. A technical challenge, since both faces are powered by the same movement in between. Most would feature a light and a dark dial, to match different outfits, moods or times of the day (Reverso Day & Night).
Several versions with different complications were produced from 1991 onwards. Multiple sizes, materials and movement types are also available. Most are fitted with manually wound or quartz calibers, although automatic versions do exist.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is arguably the world’s first specially designed sports watch. By today’s standards its looks are classically formal, but its roots are clearly in equestrian sports. Much like the Cartier Tank, its rectangular design has survived the test of time with flying colors. If it is a true design classic you are after, no need to look any further.
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