What started life in 1931 as a pragmatic solution developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre for British officers in India who were constantly smashing the glass on their watches during polo matches is considered a genuine icon in the watch world today. Its patented case, which was “capable of sliding in its support and being completely turned over”, never ceases to fascinate and has offered its dual faces to house everything from complications to miniature works of art. The latest iterations of the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, a function that was incorporated on the Reverso in 1934, feature slimmer 18k pink gold cases and dials in sunray-brushed black, silver and burgundy.
Why only talking about the Gold Models…?
There were actually 4 new versions of the Reverso Tribute Small Seconds presented at Watches and Wonders 2023, including 3 new (and very attractive) pink gold editions, as well as a new steel model, under the reference Q713842J, with a silver dial and a Fagliano Collection calf-leather-and-canvas strap, priced at 9,750 Swiss francs. A lovely watch, you might say. Yes, expect that for an unknown reason, this steel model retains the older case that measures 8.5mm in height, and not the new case that has been slimmed down to 7.56mm in thickness. The latter is exclusive to the pink gold versions… Too bad!
The Slimmer Reverso Tribute Small Seconds (Gold only)
Shaped cases were all the rage in the 1930s, distinguishing themselves as trend-setting novelties by distancing themselves from the converted circular pocket and pendant watches. To create a functional swivelling case, JLC necessarily had to adopt a rectilinear shape. Adopting design codes of the Art Deco movement, the Reverso’s elegant, streamlined silhouette, underscored by the three straight gadroons at either end of the case, has survived the vicissitudes of time admirably. It’s worth remembering that the Reverso and the Empire State Building, two irrefutable 20th-century design masterpieces, were launched in the same year.
Although the Reverso sported a small seconds sub-dial early in its career (1934), a stainless steel Reverso Tribute Small Seconds with an eye-catching burgundy dial appeared in 2019. Housed in a large case measuring 45.6mm long x 27.4mm wide, the Reverso Tribute family revived the codes of the first Reversos with their sumptuous coloured dials. The reason for mentioning this model is that the three new pink gold models retain the length and width of the case, the same movement and even a sunray-brushed dial but are now almost 1mm thinner. Compared to the 8.5mm thickness of the 2019 Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, the new models flaunt a case height of just 7.56mm.
Reducing the thickness of a case with a swivelling mechanism is a challenge. With over 50 components – 40 dedicated to the swivelling mechanism – the cases are produced and hand-assembled by a specialised team at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufacture in the Vallée de Joux.
In line with other Reverso Tribute models, the dial features applied faceted hour markers, elegant Dauphine-style hands, and the signature rectangular railway minute track on the periphery. Depending on the dial colour, the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock and the minute track are picked out in contrasting print: the black dial uses a golden print, the burgundy dial uses white, and the silver uses black.
The silver-coloured dial is perhaps the most conventional of the three and recalls the dials of first-generation Reversos. However, the inky black tuxedo dial and the intense oxblood red are gorgeous. To create a sunray dial, the copper base is first galvanised to produce a metallic sheen and protect it from oxidation. Next, a fine metal brush traces lines into the surface in a sunray pattern, intersecting at the dial’s centre. These thin, almost imperceptible lines produce the characteristic variations of hue as light falls on the dial from different angles. The silver and black dials are then varnished and polished, while the burgundy dial goes one step further and is lacquered.
The intensity and depth of the burgundy dial result from the four layers of hand-applied coloured lacquer followed by 20 layers of translucent lacquer. Once the lacquer has dried, it is varnished with a brilliant finish and polished by hand.
While still speaking of colour, these Reverso Tribute Small Seconds reconnect to their polo origins with straps made by Argentinian Casa Fagliano, famous for its handmade polo boots. The black and burgundy models are kitted with two interchangeable Casa Fagliano straps to complement the dial colours; one with a combination of canvas and calfskin and a second strap in calfskin, fitted with pink gold pin buckles for quick strap changes. The silver dial also comes with a Casa Falgiano bi-material calf leather and canvas strap, but the second provided in the package is a dressier black alligator strap.
Swivelling the case reveals the solid caseback, which is designed to be personalised, and the base of the case is decorated with engraved sun rays to echo the finishing on the dial. Hidden from view, the small JLC manual-winding calibre 822 has a tonneau shape that follows the contours of the rectangular case. Made up of 108 parts and just 2.94mm thick, the in-house calibre runs at 21,600vph and delivers a power reserve of 45 hours.
Availability & Price
The new editions of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds in pink gold form part of the regular collection and share a retail price of CHF 22,200. For more information, please consult Jaeger-lecoultre.com.