Jaeger-LeCoultre-Q2176440-Reverso-Tourbillon-Number-Two-Platinum-18521-3

Rare Hardware: The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Tourbillon Number Two

Jaeger-LeCoultre holds the unique title of the watchmaker’s watchmaker, and no, they didn’t pull a Napoleon Bonaparte and bestow upon themselves that title. The Platinum Tourbillon Two (reference; Q2176440) is in essence a revisiting of how JLC earned the title of being a watchmaker’s watchmaker. Released in 2003 and limited to 500 pieces, it is a wonderful nod to the 1993 Reverso that first featured a tourbillon in its iconic case.

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Housed in the ‘Grand Taille’ case, first introduced in 1991, this was the case that helped bring JLC into the world of haute horology. Measuring in with dimensions of 26mm wide by 42mm long and 9.4mm thick, this watch is deceptively large, however remains very well balanced on the wrist. This is due mainly to the wonderful proportions of the Reverso, and how close they are able to achieve the golden ratio of 1:1618.

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There’s not much on the face of the watch that would lead you to believe that this watch is as complex as it is, however upon closer inspection, you’ll at least notice a few minor hints. The bicolor dial features the JL anchor at 12 o’clock, as well as silver painted Arabic numerals, surrounding the minute counter with the subsidiary seconds at the six. Within the sub-seconds register, proudly printed within the register is the word tourbillon in capital letters with Jaeger-LeCoultre found between the 20 and the 40 seconds indicator. The only real complication on the otherwise sober side is the power reserve under the 12 o’clock position.

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Hiding under the otherwise tame dial is the JLC 848 movement, made of 18k Gold and hand finished in a ‘Côtes Soleillées’ pattern radiating out from the center and the tourbillon. The movement employs a variety of finishes including the black polish and beveled edges, and the blued screws within the movement do a fantastic job of setting a visual boundary between the movement and the case. This all allows for the eye to focus into the highlight of the show, the tourbillon. Not all tourbillons are created equal, and the one found in the Q2176440 features a free-sprung tourbillon with Breguet Overcoil Hairspring and is adjusted to six positions for very accurate time keeping. A defining feature on some JLC tourbillons is the bridge, an ode to the famous observatory chronometer—the caliber 170. It was the first tourbillon produced by JLC, and it won the observatory chronometry trial four times (1948, 1952, 1953, and 1954). 

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The seconds hand follows the tourbillon cage, which demonstrates the beautiful duality that this watch has. Behind the simple sweeping of the seconds hand on the face of the dial is the enigmatic tourbillon, a complication that overcomes the forces of nature that goes against the core function of a watch. Balancing against the pull of gravity in 360 degrees, hitting all the positions and thus keeping time with better accuracy.

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JLC have had their movements in watches that one wouldn’t have expected, i.e. Audemars Piguet, Ralph Laruen, Cartier, and even Patek Philippe. It would come as to no surprise that they would want to showcase to the world why it is that other major manufatures trust JLC with their movements. The devil is always in the details, and JLC always demonstrates a level of refinement with their ‘less is more’ methodology.

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With the Reverso originally serving to protect polo players, it remains very true to the original ethos some 70 years later. However instead of the hazards of polo, it now protects their title of being the watchmaker’s watchmaker. Dependant on one’s mood, the functionality of the flipping mechanism on the Reverso is a watch lover’s ideal fidget mechanism. Flip to one side if you need to care about the time, or flip it the other way before rolling up to the next watch collector’s gathering (when we’re allowed to gather in groups again).

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