Haute Time: Reverso of Fortune–The Jaeger LeCoultre Grand Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931

Classics are classics for a reason. The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso watch has been putting the haute in haute horlogerie (high watchmaking) for 80 years.  Ironically, though the Reverso is now known as a timepiece that sets the benchmark for elegance in luxury men’s dress watches, it started out as one of the first watches ever designed for a specific sport–polo. The Reverso came about as a result of a request to a wealthy French businessman, watch collector, and polo enthusiast named Cesar de Trey from the members of a polo club in colonial India–back then, watch crystals were made of glass (not the typcial scratch and shatter resistant plastics and synthetic sapphire used today), and a watch was needed that could stand up to rough treatment but still express the elegance of the noble sport of polo.

The result was the Reverso, with its signature reversible case. Since 1931, it’s been a canvas for everything from stunning miniature enamel paintings to exquisite engravings (many are the Reversos that have endearments to loved ones or commemorations of life’s milestones engraved on the back of the case) to a housing for super-exotic complications. And the Tribute to 1931, introduced officially this year, is a purist’s take on the Reverso. Its deliciously thin form evokes a world not of transitory fashion but rather of timeless elegance; the beautifully economical design of the hands and dial are taken straight from the original 1931 model, and the slight increase in size relative to the original model updates the classic proportions for modern tastes.

It’s the proportions that are part of the secret to the Reverso’s perennial appeal–the ratio of height to width of the case is the famous Golden Ratio, which has been studied by mathematicians and used by artists for thousands of years –and which has been an essential part of the Reverso’s design since 1931.

Very limited production in steel; limited edition in pink gold; and for the U.S. only, a limited edition with special hand-made strap by renowned polo bootmaker Eduardo Fagliano.

Jack Forster is the Editor in Chief of Revolution Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating the world of fine watchmaking, and he also manages Revolution Online www.revo-online.com, the foremost information and discussion site on the internet for watch enthusiasts.