With over 92 years of history, the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre is at a point of its life where it almost needs no introduction. Its swivelling case protected the fragile glass from breakages, and allowed for a space for personalisation – often you will see these with the wearer’s initials engraved on the back, and for the ultra-luxe versions, you could see different techniques of enamelling. It could be argued, however, that it was the 1990s where the Reverso hit its stride, with the release of the first Reverso Duoface in 1994. This watch set the tone for the Reverso in the Golden Era of watchmaking, with numerous complications being incorporated into the reverse dial of the watch. It is these 90s watches that the new Reverso Chronographe takes its inspiration, honouring its history, and highlighting the importance of complications once again.
Available in both rose gold and its classic material, stainless steel, the Reverso Chronographe measures in at 49.4mm in length, and 29mm in width – a classic size for a Reverso. The rose gold version features a black dial with gilt hour markers and dauphine hands, and the stainless steel model sports a steel blue dial – a colour that is achieved with a technique called Atomic Layer Deposition, where ultra-thin layers of titanium oxide is deposited onto the dial, achieving the distinctive blue hue.
This side of the watch belies its complexity, with only hours and minutes being seen on this side of the dial. Flipping the watch over, we see a skeletonised dial also featuring the time through dauphine hands, but with the chronograph seconds indications on an inner 60 seconds dial, and at 6 o’clock is a 30 minute counter displaying this information in retrograde format.
This watch takes inspiration from the 1996 Reverso Chronograph, where it too, displayed the chronograph on the reverse side of the watch. The main difference between these two watches is the movement – where the 1996 Reverso Chronograph housed the calibre 829, the first manually wound integrated chronograph to be developed in the post-quartz era, the new 2023 Reverso Chronographe houses the calibre 860 – this movement removes the operation indicator of the original 1996 Reverso Chronograph, as well as a few other technical upgrades. The movement is a column wheel controlled chronograph, with a horizontal clutch – features that follow the traditions of Haute Horlogerie.
The movement also features modern upgrades, like a 28,800 vph beat rate, and a longer power reserve – 52 hours for this watch. With all things considered, it is a respectable set of stats, considering the fact the watch powers two dials as well as a chronograph. This is all incorporated into a movement that is not only rectangular shaped to match the rectangular shaped Reverso, but also enables the watch to be less than 12mm thick.
On the surface, the new Reverso Chronograph is a watch that encourages you to look closer into the details, and for those that love the classical aesthetics of the Reverso, this is another watch that will make you sit up and look at its golden ratio good looks, as well as the capabilities of its movement. For those looking for a dress watch, it is really hard to go past this watch that combines the history of the 1930s and the category defining movement design of the 90s – this is a watch that should get you to look past simple good looks, and to discover how watches work, giving you further education into this world that is equal parts mysterious and beautiful.