Why I Bought It: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Reverso 1931
Over the twenty-odd years I’ve been buying “serious” watches, I’ve purchased more pieces bearing the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand name than any other, by far.
As far as I’m concerned, there are lots of good reasons for this, but perhaps what formed my early attraction was Jaeger-LeCoultre’s storied history as a developer of movements used by many other high-end brands.
The combination of clever movement design and good value for money has kept the brand relevant for me even as I’ve had the good fortune to include other premium brands and independent pieces in my collection.
Within the Jaeger-LeCoultre pantheon, one watch sub-group stands out for me: the Reverso. Between my wife and I, we’ve bought a total of seven Reverso models, and we still have five of those in our watch boxes.
Given that, why add another? In this instance, the Reverso Tribute to 1931?
Why I Bought It
As with many of these stories, it’s about the people. In this case, Philippe Bonay, who in 2011 was named president of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s operations in the North America. As part of my first SIHH, I participated in our collector group’s private visit to the brand’s booth, and Philippe was kind enough to join us for a portion of our visit.
One of the SIHH introductions that year was the Tribute to Reverso 1931, a very handsome, ultra-thin watch commemorating the 80th anniversary of the original Reverso’s introduction.
During our discussion of that watch, Philippe mentioned, with great excitement, a project that he had underway: a limited-production version of the “TTR” for the United States market with a special combination of dial and hands. He also described another special feature of this version: a cordovan strap made by Casa Fagliano, the Argentine producer of ultra-high-end polo boots.
While I found the standard TTR 1931 beautiful, I thought the concept of the limited-production U.S. watch sounded even better. Unfortunately for me (at the time), the run of 100 watches for 2011 with a black cordovan strap sold before I could get my hands on one.
Sometimes, however, life presents us with second chances, and in 2012, Jaeger-LeCoultre announced a second series of 100 pieces, each bearing a mouth-watering dark brown cordovan Fagliano strap.
Further good fortune struck: my favorite authorized Jaeger-LeCoultre dealer received an allocation of one of these watches, and after a brief discussion it was mine.
Why I Love It
For me, there are a bunch of reasons why this watch called my name in the first place and why it is a frequent wearer.
* First of all, it’s a Reverso through and through. Let’s face it: I love the Reverso! That well-proportioned rectangular shape; the three grooves at the top and bottom edges of the case; the cool flipping mechanism; even the lore about its invention to protect the fragile crystals of watches as they were worn during polo matches appeals to me.
* As an homage to the original 1931 Reverso, this piece is, if anything, even more closely linked to everything that makes a Reverso distinctive than other family models. The branding on the dial is “Reverso,” not the usual “Jaeger-LeCoultre.” And for this U.S. limited production version, even the font of the word “Reverso” is matched as closely as possible to the original 1931 watch, as is the shape of the “hypodermic” hands.
* I like the faux patina on the hands and markers. This is a point of some controversy among Reverso enthusiasts, as some argue that the yellowish-orange look should be earned over years of slow oxidation, not bought as part of the design of a brand new watch. Perhaps I am in the minority, but I think the color choice is great, especially with the brown strap.
* Speaking of straps: the Casa Fagliano brown cordovan both feels great and looks great, and the watch also comes with a sleek matte black crocodile strap if you’d prefer a change of pace. I also plan to pair this watch with the special strap containing teal highlights that Jaeger-LeCoultre offered to benefit ovarian cancer awareness and research (see Jaeger-LeCoultre Fights Ovarian Cancer With Collector Events).
* The stainless steel case is a winner. For me, there are some watches that just seem more natural in steel, and this is one of them. It provides a crisp look, contrasts well with the black dial, and makes the watch affordable enough that I might just convince myself to have the clean reverse side of the case adorned with some sort of personalized engraving, just like Jaeger-LeCoultre suggests!
* Limited production: this watch is not a numbered limited edition, as there are no markings on the case itself that indicate the number of watches with this specific design produced or the number of this watch within the series. The only indication is on the back of the cordovan strap, where one can see the “Reverso 2012” marking branded into the leather. While I might have preferred a formal limited edition, I do like knowing that only a limited number of this specific piece were produced.
* You can’t see through the case back, but if you could your eye would be greeted by Caliber 822, which is shaped to the dimensions of the watch. I am enough of a purist that I really don’t like “form watches” such as rectangular and tonneau-shaped cases that contain round movements. The use of true “form movements” by Jaeger-LeCoultre, including the one in this watch, is a significant plus for me.
* Having exercised our x-ray vision to visualize the movement that ticks away inside, let’s return to the exterior aspects of this watch, starting with its thin profile. The “ultra-thin” designation applied by Jaeger-LeCoultre to this watch is accurate, in my view, and I find the resulting proportions of this watch really pleasing to the eye.
* As a result of all of this, the watch wears really well: on my wrist, and on the wrists of the many owners who rave about this watch and post the huge volume of wristshots of it that appear online. If you’ve never had a Reverso on your wrist, or perhaps never even seriously considered a rectangular watch, I encourage you to try one of the variants of this “ultra-thin” line; you may well be surprised at how great it looks on you.
* Back to the start: it’s all about the people! While there are a lot of watches one could wear that elicit interest or even admiration, what I’ve found is that this is a watch that inspires friendship. Whether in virtual online communities or in-person enthusiast get-togethers, people seem to like this watch in a fundamental way, and that leads to more of the connections and conversations that make watch enthusiasm such a great hobby.
Is It for you?
I bought it, but is this one right for you? You might want to consider it if:
* You are a collector of Reverso models; then again, I can easily imagine this or any of the Tribute watches being a first Reverso, a first rectangular watch, or even a first Jaeger-LeCoultre for many people.
* In the case of the U.S. limited production series, if the idea of owning something a little different and limited in numbers appeals to you.
* You love the look and the clear references to the heritage of the Reverso line.
* You’ve always been tempted to have the case back of a Reverso engraved and are looking for a good candidate.
For once, I am struggling a bit to come up with reasons not to buy! Unless the entire Reverso concept leaves you cold, or you have confirmed for yourself that the rectangular Reverso case just doesn’t fit your wrist, the only thing that might give you pause would be that faux patina on the U.S. version. If that’s the case, you can always select the standard TTR 1931 or any of the other Reverso Tribute watches, of course.
There are lots of hyper-expensive watches out there, many of them true objects of desire. But not all great watches need to break the bank! For me, the Tribute to Reverso 1931 is one of those happy examples of a watch that is accessible to many potential buyers and is also a splendid piece in its own right.
For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/CH/en/collections/reverso.
Case: stainless steel; 27.4 x 46.8 mm including lugs (38 mm not including lugs), height 7.3 mm
Movement: manual winding Caliber 822; 45-hour power reserve; frequency 21,600 vibrations per hour
Functions: hours and minutes
Price: $8,400 U.S. retail (2015 non-limited version); recent pre-owned resale prices $6,500 to $7,500
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[…] Why I Bought It: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Reverso 1931 […]
[…] article was first published on January 14, 2014 at Why I Bought It: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Reverso 1931. You may find some of the comments under that article […]
[…] It’s no exaggeration to say that here at Quill & Pad we are big fans of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso (see Why I Bought My Wife An Engraved Reverso Classique . . . And Why You Shouldn’t (Even Though I’m Happy) and Why I Bought It: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Reverso 1931). […]
[…] example of a watch that I also own, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute to Reverso 1931 U.S. Edition (see Why I Bought It: Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute To Reverso 1931), cleared the books at just over 6,000 […]
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I am a big fan of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin. Both have great history and in my eyes both are completely underrated in comparison to some of these usual suspects. Great article, Gary, to start 2015 and yes, the photos are awesome!
All the best,
Thanks for your comments, Christian! I started with JLC and I haven’t tired of them at all over the past 20 years.
I’m very pleased that you liked the photos as well — as you know, black-dialed watches are not that easy to photograph!
That Reverso is a beautiful example, Gary. I really appreciate the faux patina on the dial. It has a very authentic look to it. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. Looking forward to it.
I’m absolutely with you on the faux patina — to me they got it just right.
I’m pleased that you’re going to stay tuned for the rest of the year — I’ll do my best to keep up the pace of photos and articles on “Why I Bought It” and other topics of interest!
Great piece! It is an absolute classic and I am glad to also have one. As I have mentioned previously, it would be fascinating to take a census of the 200 US Edition pieces. It seems that all are in the collections of passionate and astute collectors like yourself.
Dear Gary, some years ago I was invited to a track day by Aston Martin in the UK. After a terrific day driving the cars & discussing the special sports watch JLC produced to go with the car (you could open the car & start it up via the watch) I spotted in a small showcase in the hospitality suite a straightforward Reverso in steel but the face had numerical figures and the number 7 was in red. I asked what was this & was told it was a special edition watch to commemorate JLC’s association with Aston Martin and the red 7 mirrored the red line on the rev counter of the cars! Does anyone know of where these are now as they must be collectors items? I also agree about the brand having done a factory visit as they are a true manufacture. My other favourite brand is Vacheron Constantin
Fantastic piece! I was looking at their website and the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931. But I’m more drawn to your dial’s REVERSO type font. Not to mention that strap and the lovely peach hour markers. Sweet choice
I have the standard reverso TT 1931 and love this watch. It whispers elegance and is to be appreciated by the wearer and all those who know what it is and the history. I had mine engraved ‘play time’ for when I’m playing with the kids. So personal. It really is an understated piece and for the money it’s spot on.
An interesting and informative article, Gary. Thanks for overwhelming your readers with such time piece.
My question is; would you choose the ultra thin over a the duo time?
I have what I believe to be one of the limited edition Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso it is No. 212/500. I would like for someone to contact me if interested. The watch was inherited from my grandfather to my uncle who gave it to me. I can send pictures.
Interested in your Reverso, please feel free to contact me with pics 🙂
is there any way to get one of theese without beeng part of the high-end community. I am just a “small” watch collector from Germany and don’t have a network to find one of theese. It would also be my most expensive purchase by far. But hey, I’m in love… so.. can anybody help me out?