The Collector’s Series has already hosted our dear Editor-in-Chief Frank in the past. However until now, you probably had in mind that this Dutch guy mainly has a passion for independent watchmakers and superb but bold designs, knowing he owns a Sarpaneva Korona K1 and a Hautlence HL Ti 01. Two watches that are not from a classical and old manufacture and that are not the type of timepieces that can be called classic. Besides talking about watches in his job, Frank is also a total-crazy-nerd about horology (well, he’s also a father, a husband and a hard worker…) and as every good collector, his collection is versatile. Thus, Frank also has a more traditional, classical side. Don’t be surprised cause clearly, the watch he owns can easily bear the “icon” title. Here is the story of Frank and his understated, dressy and so desirable Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute to 1931.
Frank, what is it about JLC that stole your heart?
“Many things” would be the short answer. Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most incredible watch manufactures of the entire business. We all know names like Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, which are together often named the “three grand dames of Haute Horlogerie” or the “Holy Trinity“. Well, Jaeger-LeCoultre used to manufacture many movements, not only simple movements but also complicated movements, for these brands, and for many other brands. That’s why Jaeger-LeCoultre manufactured more than 150 calibres, whether it be extremely thin, extremely small, or extremely complicated.
For example, the smallest ever mechanical movement, calibre 101, is made by Jaeger-LeCoultre, and it’s still in the collection. The thinnest automatic movement with full rotor was created by Jaeger-LeCoultre, and was used in the Patek Nautilus 3700, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref. 5402 and even in today’s RO Ultra-Thin ref. 15202, and in the Vacheron Constantin 222. Just saying.
This being said, the “ high-end” properties of what Jaeger-LeCoultre does is not in question, however for years they also had the most affordable tourbillon wrist watch, and the most affordable perpetual calendar (the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Perpetual Calendar).
My admiration for Jaeger-LeCoultre started when I just started to learn about watches. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Perpetual Calendar (the older 37mm size model) was my grail watch for a long time (and it’s still very high on my wish list.) Besides the many appealing wrist watches, their famous clock, the Atmos, also made a huge impression on me, when I learned how it works. It could almost be considered a perpetuum immobile. As you see, there’s quite a bit to like.
When did you come to own the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso 1931 Tribute?
I bought it in 2012, a year after it was introduced. A few year before, I bought the Reverso Grand Date, because of it’s impressive 8-days movement that is entirely exposed through the see-through case back, and the lovely guilloche dial.
When I finally got it, I wore it for some days only to realise that “it wasn’t me”. Not sure why, because I certainly tried it at the retailer and I loved it. I still loved it, but it wasn’t me and I only found out after wearing it for some hours/days. For a Reverso I found it too thick, and the guilloche dial, no matter how stunning, was too classical for me.
When JLC introduced the Grande Reverso Tribute to 1931 at the SIHH 2010, I immediately knew that this was the one. Being extra careful this time, I tried it at the SIHH and afterwards several times at an official retailer. So 2 years after the introduction I bought, and enjoyed wearing it ever since.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a watch with immense history, can you tell us a bit more?
The Reverso was invented for the British troops who were stationed in India, back in the early 1900’s. In their free time they loved to play polo. Since the game of polo is kind of a rough game, they didn’t want the crystals of their precious timepieces to be broken and thus they requested a solution to Jaeger-LeCoultre. (more about the history of the Reverso here)
Well, that’s history, and today the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a magnificent classic among wrist watches. However, don’t be surprised when you see a Reverso in the Patek museum in Geneva, and yes, it bears the Patek Philippe name on the dial as well. In the early days, Cartier also made a Reverso, as the reversible case was created by a famous case manufacturer. Jaeger-LeCoultre bought the exclusive rights to use this case and name. So, while the company actually didn’t “invent” the Reverso, they did something that is probably even more impressive: they managed to make it into the iconic classic watch that we know today.
Did this history play a significant role in your decision to buy?
No. The history about the relation to polo is a nice extra, however I find it really impressive that Jaeger-LeCoultre has manufactured the Reverso in more or less unaltered design, for more then eighty years. That’s what makes the Reverso a classic that easily holds up next to the Rolex Submariner. And when you think of it, the Reverso is actually one of the “oldest” classics that is still available today.
Aesthetically, what stood out for you?
I’ve liked the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso case since the first time I saw it. OK, it took me a second try to find out which model really befitted my wrist and taste, however the overall design just works sublime I think. One of the things with the Reverso, no matter which model, is that it offers so much more that you could expect, based on a first glance.
Now I’ve owned my Reverso 1931 for some years and I still enjoy looking at it in yet another angle, seeing other details. For instance look at the lugs, which are strong, thick, long, masculine and just a bit downward sloping and thus making the Reverso comfortable on the wrist.
Is the 1931 Tribute an icon that will endure the test of time do you think?
Certainly! As I already said, the Reverso has an impressive history, and is one of the most iconic watches ever created. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute to 1931 features all the classic properties that make it a classic on its own.
How does the 1931 Tribute fit into your lifestyle?
I wear all my watches on a daily basis, so the Reverso adorns my wrist from time to time. Whenever I have a formal event, there’s a good chance I’ll be wearing the Reverso.
What’s inside the 1931 Tribute Frank?
Inside ticks the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 822 that is also used in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille, however the off-center small seconds hand has been removed. Calibre 822 (with 21 jewels) beats at 21,600 vph and offers 45 hours of power reserve.
I know your a big fan of the brand, what do you anticipate from them in the coming months/years?
Recently we’ve seen the introduction of two new Geophysic models, both featuring a lovely dead beat second complication, or True Second as they call it. However I don’t know what they have in store for next year precisely. Of course as collector and watch nut myself, I do have some hopes for more ultra-thin, classic models in the same vein as the Master Moon for instance, or the Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar. Jaeger-LeCoultre is an admirable and reputable manufacture, with a very impressive history. I’m very much looking forward to January when they will introduce their novelties. However, now that you ask me, I just remember that next year is the 85th anniversary of the Reverso, so we might have some interesting things to see during the SIHH, at the JLC booth.
When it comes to value for money, how does the 1931 Tribute fair in your opinion?
That’s just superb! This watch has 80 years of heritage packed inside, an superb ultra-thin movement, build by non-other than Jaeger LeCoultre (the movement makers!) and the bold style of no name, nothing on the dial. You get a lot of watch for the money!
What type of person would you advise should look to buy a Reverso?
Anyone who wants a classic timepiece that can be worn in most occasions. OK, don’t take it to the beach or pool.
What do you think the 1931 Tribute says about you when people see it on the wrist?
I don’t know, or maybe I don’t want to know. Every watch works differently with every other person. It will look differently on my wrist then on your wrist. It is always a match of personality, age, style, etc. with the watch. It’s difficult for me to know how others will look at the Reverso on my wrist and what that says about me.
Does it get much wrist time?
Well, as always, it competes for wrist time with the review watches, however it still gets a fair amount of wrist time, and I enjoy every minute of that!
What is your favourite feature of the watch?
It’s style, which is determined by the design, by the choice to create it with a clean dial with hardly no marking, and it’s very slim profile. Oh, I beg your pardon, did you ask for one favourite feature?
What three words would you use to describe your 1931 Tribute?
Stylish, elegant, classic