The Reverso certainly is the most iconic watch of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Of course, most of us know its long and rich history, with its roots linked to British polo players asking for a protected watch and its subsequent creation in 1931. There’s one thing that this particular construction allowed: personalisation. Today, the back of this classical Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a field of expression to celebrate a double centenary: the birth 100 years ago of Dutch art school De Stijl (think Piet Mondrian) and of Dutch retailer Steltman. Here is the specifically-adorned Reverso Tribute to Piet Mondrian.
If alone the name “De Stijl” might not sound familiar to everyone, its main representative, Piet Mondrian, is certainly one of the most famous Dutch artists. And if this name still doesn’t do anything for you, a look at this selection of paintings should shine a light on the subject. Together with Theo van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld, Mondrian created one of the world’s most iconic art movements. “De Stijl”, Dutch for “The Style”, also known as neoplasticism, was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. It consisted of a group of designers, painters and architects who advocated pure abstraction by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; and they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colours. And if you think about it, it is a definition that also fits perfectly with the designs of a certain German watch brand, Nomos, whose creations are deeply inspired by Bauhaus, primary colours and graphic lines.
This year, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of this art movement… But it also marks the birth, 100 years ago, of major Dutch watch retailer and jeweller, Steltman. Founded in Den Haag (The Hague) in 1917, this store now represents some of the best-known Swiss manufactures in the “flat country” and offers a wide and qualitative selection of timepieces, coloured gemstones and diamonds. To mark this double centenary, entirely focused on the country of birth of our Editor-in-Chief Frank Geelen (hence a certain national pride…), Jaeger-LeCoultre has created a specifically commissioned version of the Reverso, Tribute to Piet Mondrian, De Stijl and the Netherlands in general.
You have to search and to interact with this object to find out why it is special. Indeed, at first, it is a standard Reverso Classic Large Small Second, so-to-say the brand’s signature and ultra-conservative model. Of course, it features the rectangular case, of course, it has a reversible central part, and of course, it is made with elegance and discretion in mind. The case of this version, in stainless steel, measures a comfortable 45.6mm X 27.4mm; enough to offer a certain masculine presence without being ostentatious either. As always, the case features integrated and short lugs, as well as the 3 horizontal grooves on both sides of the case.
The dial of this Reverso Tribute to Piet Mondrian doesn’t give away anything either as to what hides behind its conception. There’s no mention of a limited edition, no mention of De Stijl, Mondrian or Steltman, in fact, this dial is perfectly equal to the standard version. It means a silver dial, with Art-Deco style, Arabic numerals in black on a vertically brushed background, a central section with diamond pattern, and a clear distinction, with graphic lines, of all the indications (minutes, hours and small second). Time is indicated by the classical blued hands.
Inside is the hand-wound, thin calibre 822/2. This ovoid movement is well-known and has been used in the Reverso case for quite some time now. It does its job quietly and smoothly. Its 2.94mm profile allows the Reverso to remain thin, even with the reversible device. It ticks at 3Hz and boasts 45h of power reserve. Again, these are the same characteristics as the normal Reverso Classic Large Small Second. What is most important about this piece is located on the opposite side of the case…
Flip the case and you’ll see a nice tribute to the 1921 “Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue” painting by Piet Mondrian. Each of these Reverso Tribute to Piet Mondrian watches is unique, as the micro-painting is done by hand by the artisans of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Métiers Rares atelier, located in the Vallée de Joux. To make this special miniature painting, the atelier had to create a new technique that allowed to create clear straight lines and homogeneous areas of single colour, such as yellow, blue and red. Each miniature is the dried in a kiln and covered with a protective layer of colourless varnish.
This Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute to Piet Mondrian will be only available at Steltman in The Hague (www.steltman.nl) and limited to 25 pieces, priced at EUR 9,117. A perfect egoistic piece that reveals its beauty only when flipped, and an appropriate watch for Dutch (or not) art lovers.