The Reverso is irrevocably a part of the story of Jaeger-LeCoultre, with its story being reignited in the 90s with beautiful complications and in the 2000s with faithful tributes to historical models. In 2021, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates 90 years of the Reverso with the most complex Reverso watch created to date – one that encompasses all of the watchmaking expertise of La Grande Maison. A watch with 4 faces and 11 complications, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 is the most complex Reverso ever made, and arguably the best way to celebrate a 90th anniversary.
Taking around 6 years to develop, the Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 (also known as the Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque) packs the 11 complications into a manually-wound movement in a case that is relatively wearable – with a size of 31mm width, by 51mm length and 15mm case height.
Its front face displays its flying tourbillon at the 7 o’clock position, making one revolution every minute. Subtle perpetual calendar information is displayed near 12 o’clock for the day and month, a leap year indicator at 1 o’clock position, and a Grande Date at the 5 o’clock position – to further highlight the precision involved in the manufacture of this timepiece, all of these indications change instantaneously at midnight. In addition, a day/night indicator is displayed at 11 o’clock. Much of this front face shows off guillochage of the movement plates and bridges themselves, with the signature Reverso Clous de Paris, as well as the blued sword shaped hands.
The rear face of the Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque houses the minute repeater mechanism, fully displaying the hammers, gongs and the silent governor of the minute repeater. This side also displays a jumping digital hour time display, with the hours displayed in an aperture, and the minutes indicated by a red hand. On this side, the sound making innovations of La Grande Maison can be seen – their trebuchet hammers that give extra power to the striking of the gongs, to the square gongs that present a greater surface area for the gongs to strike. In addition, like many of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s minute repeaters before it, the gongs are attached to the sapphire crystal glass, providing more opportunity for the sound to reverberate outwards from the watch. The last feature of this side can only be heard when the minute repeater is activated – on sections of the chiming sequence where there are no quarters to be heard, the watch eliminates the gaps between the quarters and the minutes strike, providing an uninterrupted listening experience to the minute repeater chime.
The face incorporated into the cradle of the Reverso case displays the celestial indications, including the synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycles of the moon. The synodic cycle is indicated by the indicator at the top, and is your traditional moonphase indication for the Northern Hemisphere – Full Moon, New Moon, Waxing Crescent, Waning Crescent, etcetera. To the bottom left of the case carriage is the draconic cycle indicator of the moon – this enables the prediction of solar or lunar eclipses by observing when the sun, moon and Earth’s orbits align and intersect, as well as using the synodic cycle indicator to predict a full moon or a new moon. To the right of the draconic cycle indicator is the anomalistic cycle indicator – this predicts the perigee (the closest distance the moon gets to the Earth) and the apogee (the furthest distance the moon goes from the Earth). When the synodic cycle indicator and the anomalistic indicator are used in conjunction with each other, this can predict an event called the Supermoon, when the moon appears much larger and brighter in the night sky. At the bottom of this face is the calendar’s year indicator in a full 4 digit display.
On the rear of the case carriage is the Southern hemisphere at the top of the face, a much appreciated touch for those living Down Under. All of the indications in the case cradle are adjusted by a mechanical pin that descends at midnight and actuates a corrector that advances all of the indications set into the cradle.
The case is crafted of white gold, mounted on a blue alligator strap with deployant clasp, and will be limited to 10 pieces worldwide.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, then, is a culmination of nearly two decades of exceptional watchmaking that has shaped modern haute horlogerie in the 21st Century. This line continues to push the boundaries of the watchmaking craft, and this is absolutely no exception – a true display of not only watchmaking prowess, but also the decorative arts displayed in the movement as well as the celestial displays through enamelwork and miniature painting. Through this watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre truly earn their name of La Grande Maison, and cement their position as a force in Fine Watchmaking.