Jaeger-LeCoultre CEO Catherine Rénier On The Legacy Of The Reverso Watch And Why It’s A Style Icon

Earlier in 2023, at Watches & Wonders, Jaeger-LeCoultre announced a slew of references of its iconic, rectangular, double-faced watch. Among these, one finds the classical, dressy Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, the bejewelled and enamelled Reverso One Precious Colours, and high complications courtesy of the Reverso Tribute Duoface Tourbillon and Reverso Hybris Artistica Calibre 179. The Reverso Tribute Chronograph (from RM110,000) will pique the interest of longtime fans, as the new calibre within it manages to add a second time indicator on the back face to accompany the chronograph function. 

It has been more than 90 years since the Reverso was launched in 1931, at a time when the world was at a high point of Art Deco art, fashion and architecture. Catherine Rénier, the CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, believes the Vallée de Joux manufacture was in a prime position to take advantage of the times. “In 1931, we had a manufacture full of artisans, craftsmen, and technical experts. We had just revealed Calibre 101 (one of the smallest movements ever made),” she says. “You had a manufacture in the Vallée de Joux, but was very much listening to what is happening in the world. It was a very artistic, creative period.” Furthermore, the manufacture’s role as a movement supplier— it was ‘the watchmaker of watchmakers’—meant it was exposed to a lot of different demands. “It gave us this openness. Interacting with many clients, getting many requests and being referred to as a technical expert enabled Jaeger-LeCoultre to be on the forefront of creativity,” Rénier says.

Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre

The famous story of the Reverso’s origin is that of British Army officers stationed in India looking for a timepiece that could withstand the rigours of their polo matches; a watch that could flip its dial around for protection would have done the trick. This makes it, by definition, a sports watch, but Rénier believes that the Reverso quickly shed that reputation and instead became known as a style icon on the strength of its dial colours and precise proportions that—accidentally or not—fall into the ideal of the Golden Ratio. “When you look at the Reverso, the play of the lines, the Golden Ratio, the shape, everything feels very in sync with that period, she says. “I think that’s why it has remained so relevant today, because it’s really a signature of a period and a style, and very identifiable.”

Reverso Hybris Artistica Calibre 179

Reiner admits that the Reverso has been a quiet collection in recent times, but today is more relevant than ever. “I can feel it myself that it’s becoming more and more of an extremely fashionable piece. It’s different, it’s an icon, and it’s 90 years old. It has coloured dials, and now it has a fabric strap, and complications,” she says. “There is this natural link between the appetite for watchmaking today and the style the Reverso has to offer.”


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