Tributes to a Classic: Two Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Reverso Boutique Editions

If you surveyed a group of watch enthusiasts and asked them to list the top ten most iconic watches ever made, I bet a vast majority of those lists would include the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Initially introduced in 1931, it was—like all significant innovations—born out of necessity. Jaeger-LeCoultre set out to create a watch durable enough to withstand the rigors of Polo matches. British Officers in India were continually breaking the crystal or outright destroying their watches while playing. With that, one of the world’s first “sports” watches was born. 


The Reverso allowed the wearer, as its name implies, to reverse the watch’s dial so that it was faced towards the wrist covering it safely, leaving a durable steel caseback exposed. The steel caseback protected the watch during the Polo match and then could be flipped back to resume its regular timekeeping duties afterward. The sporting timepiece caught on and slowly but surely planted its roots in horological history. While there have been numerous variations as the watch eventually turned into an entire line of watches, the original design is a classic. Here we have two rare examples that tribute those early Reverso’s in a modern form.


The  Grande Reverso 1931 Rouge Boutique Edition

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso 1931 Rouge was released in 2012 as a boutique only edition. The watch displays hours and minutes with applied white gold indices and a printed chrome railroad track. The only text on the dial is “Reverso” below twelve o’clock and “SWISS” below six o’clock. No frills, just the time. This simple design contrasts the vibrant blood red lacquer dial, not a common color choice, and the standout Art Deco rectangular case. Simple, yet bold it’s a watch that draws attention for all the right reasons.  


The design is very true to the form of the original Reverso’s—with larger dimensions— and while the Reverso’s origin is in sport, its contemporary use case is decidedly formal. Measuring at 46mm x 27.5mm, with a thickness of 7.23mm, this is a very elegantly sized watch. The ultra-thin measurements and rounded case flanks ensure this timepiece slides easily under a tight dress cuff. The protective caseback is clean and unmolested, begging for an engraving. The ample space for personalization is one of my favorite features of the classic Reverso. This example comes with a beautiful clean canvas with plenty of room for initials or personal motto. 


Because the red dialed variant is a boutique exclusive, it has limited production numbers rumored to be only a couple hundred. Powered by the manual winding Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 822 movement, it has a 45-hour power reserve complete with a shock absorber mechanism. Jaeger-LeCoultre also tested the watch for 1000 days before it left the factory. This means—though I don’t recommend it—one could strap it on for a polo match, and it would likely live to tell the tale. This buttoned-up sportsman is the perfect tribute to an icon. 


The Grande Reverso Duoface Bleu Boutique Edition

The Jaeger Le-Coultre Grande Reverso Duoface Bleu Boutique Edition at first looks very similar to the Rouge Grande Reverso. The basic design is identical, but the blood-red lacquer has been swapped for a vibrant blue that resembles a 1933 Reverso model. This variant is, like the Rogue, a boutique exclusive and was introduced in 2013 as part of the brand’s 180th-anniversary celebration. While initially, one may view this as the Yin to the red Rogue’s Yang, the difference between them goes much further than the dial color. 


The Duoface, as its name implies, allows you to enjoy the simple art deco hours and minutes time display with the addition of a second time display on the reverse side of the case. On the backside lies a gorgeous opaline white dial that has been expertly finished in clous de Paris guilloché. The dual time system is powered by the in house caliber 854/1 manual-winding movement with a 45-hour power reserve. The white dial side displays the hours and minutes with a 24-hour sub-dial as well as “Day” and “Night” indicators. This acts as the wearer’s reference time and is set using the rounded rectangular pusher on the right side of the case. It should also be noted that this side of the watch is lumed, elevating this simple dress watch to a functional travel companion. This ability to switch from the dual time display to a simple dress watch dial makes this timepiece exceptionally versatile.  


With this added functionality comes an increase in size, but it’s minimal. This watch is still very petite and measures in at 46.5mm x 27.5mm with a thickness of 9mm. When you think about how much is crammed into that small of a space, the proportions are awe-inspiring. Remember, this is effectively two watches in one with a case mechanism that allows the watch to securely flip back and forth. All while maintaining the same elegant proportions as many simple time-only watches. 


 Final Thoughts 

These two watches share a lot of the same DNA but offer unique benefits and ownership experiences. The main thing they have in common, though, is that they’re fitting tributes to a marquee watch from a storied watch manufacturer. Built around a proven formula of timeless design and quality that will last generations, these Reverso’s are undoubtedly future classics. The decision then isn’t as much about getting a Reverso, as it is about which one.