In 1931, one of the most iconic watches in history was created. And Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso, with its bold square face, simple ridged case and innovative protective function, was born out of necessity.
On the polo fields of India, a British army officer bemoaned how easily broken the dial of his wristwatch was during the hotly contested matches. To overcome this issue, he set a challenge: to develop a model that could withstand the sport — and the errant mallet strokes that came with it.
And so, a timepiece with a reversing case was created. Today, more than 50 Reverso models are offered by Jaeger-LeCoultre. And, earlier this week, we headed to the spiritual home of British Polo, Cowdray House, to take a look at the collection — and learn how, even today, the brand is still inextricably linked with this sport of kings.
The Reverso Tribute Duoface Fagliano in pink gold was on show; a limited edition of 100 pieces sporting two separate dials — a blue sunray-brushed on the front and a silvered guilloché on the back. Also brought to Cowdray was the Reverso One Duetto, a female watch recognisable for its thin case and silvered sunrayed guilloché dial.
But the watch that most caught our attention, and reinforces the model’s sporting links, was the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds. With a sumptuous burgundy-red dial and bâton hands, this aesthetically audacious timepiece is also adorned with a perfectly matched leather strap designed by Argentinian polo bootmaker Casa Fagliano.
Producing boots since 1892, Casa Fagliano are a family business, and first partnered with Jaeger Le-Coultre last year. Their soft, supple leather is hand-worked, and ensures that boots and straps alike reflect the same reliable, tough elegance that typifies the Reverso. We pulled on a pair of the boots, slipped on a watch — and took to the polo field at Great Trippetts Farm to put the products through their paces.
For almost nine decades, the Reverso has kept its simple, geometric lines and used the same exquisite Art Deco materials in its construction. And it’s easy to see why. The stainless steel case of the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds is refined in its utility. Just 8.5mm thick, reassuringly sturdy and water-resistant to 3 bar — not that this matters on the polo field, particularly — it is a small triumph of engineering.
In fact, the new care program offered by the watchmaker is a testament to the meticulous mechanics and reliable construction of the watch — offering impressive eight year warranties against the industry standard two.
Aside from the watch’s soundness, the duality of the Reverso is also not to be understated. This is a watch that has been designed to show two very different characters. One is glamorous, mysterious and eye-catching, using bold design strokes and dial colours to turn heads. The other is incredibly reserved; literally introverted and quietly reliable — allowing the wearer to simply forget about the watch when galloping around the polo field.
Indeed, as you slip off your horse and spin the Reverso’s dial back around, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s astonishing achievement makes all the more sense. The watchmaker managed to create a timepiece at once practical and beautiful, innovative and timeless.
Last week, we included the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds in our Editor’s Picks. Take a look at the full list…