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The Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre's most distinctive watch, certainly has an impressive pedigree. Essentially one of the first sports watches, the Reverso combined utility with a sleek and elegant Art Deco exterior that has become an icon of horological design. But in the case of the Reverso, looks deceive--and no model of Reverso says that more than the Reverso Tribute to 1931 US Limited Edition.
Though the Reverso appears at first glance a dress watch, it owes its existence to the gentlemanly sport of polo. While touring India in the early 1930s, Swiss businessman César de Trey met a British polo player who'd just cracked the crystal of his watch on the field. De Trey returned to Switzerland with an idea already taken root in his head, which he then discussed with Jacques-David LeCoultre: what if a watch could be made with a case that could reverse?
The reversible case, masterminded by designer Alfed Chauvot, was Jaeger-LeCoultre's solution to the problems polo players faced on the field. Once reversed, the delicate components of the case were protected from the shocks sustained while on horseback. No more would polo players crack the crystals or damage the dials of their watches.
Chauvot placed a patent for the Reverso in March 1931. The first Reverso measured 38mm in length, 24 in width. Jaeger-LeCoultre also released the Reverso in gold, and decorated the case back with engravings or even miniatures.
But with changing tastes in the 1970s--for round watches as well as quartz movements--Jaeger-LeCoultre ceased production of the Reverso. The model lay dormant for twenty years, until its triumphant re-issue in 1982. While those watches contained quartz movements, their success represented a future for the Reverso.
2011 marked the Reverso's 80th Anniversary. The Reverso remains a subtle statement piece available in numerous variations, but none of them stirred the collector community the way the Tribute to 1931--released to commemorate the Reverso's anniversary--has. As lovers of vintage watches and all things curated and hand-crafted, our love of this watch should come as no surprise. When this watch was released in the United States, it was limited to 100 pieces and was only available through the Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique in Beverly Hills. If that doesn't make it special enough, the strap was hand-crafted by Argentine bootmaker Casa Fagliano, who makes polo boots at a similarly-limited quantity--only 90 or so a year.
The US Limited Edition of the Tribute to 1931 is set apart from the Tribute to 1931 by subtle variations in the dial. In the US Limited Edition, the markers and hands both bear a darker patina to give the watch that vintage touch, the hands are syringe rather than sword-shaped, and the lettering in which "Reverso" is printed matches that on that first Reverso of 1931. This particular piece has had one very careful owner since new, and comes complete with its full kit, inclusive of the elusive Casa Fagliano Strap. Coupling superior vintage looks, a high grade manual-winding movement, and a slim, elegant case, the Reverso Limited Edition Tribute to 1931 is a no-brainer for the lover of vintage-inspired modern pieces.
Stainless steel case is approximately 27mm wide (excluding the crown) x 47mm long (including the lugs). JLC Caliber 822 Manually-Wound Movement. Circa 2011.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is exceptional condition, showing minimal signs of wear from very careful use. Dial and hands are like new. JLC crown; JLC case back is in excellent condition.
Includes one 20mm genuine crocodile Jaeger-LeCoultre strap with JL buckle. Also includes chocolate-brown cordovan Casa Fagliano strap.
Includes full kit with box and papers.