Classic Fancy-Man’s Watch Learns a Clever New Trick
Jaeger-LeCoultre made its first Reverso in 1931. Aimed at British army officers stationed in India, the watch was meant to stand up to the punishing conditions of…their frequent polo matches. Not kidding. It was very common in those days for a manufacturer or boutique to receive a watch from India with its crystal smashed: casualty of a stray polo ball. (Or a gin-and-tonic-induced fall?)
Jaeger saw a market opportunity: a timepiece that could take a punch. Their solution was the now-iconic Reverso. It allowed wearers to flip its hinged body 180 degrees and greet those watch-pummeling projectiles with a strong steel back. Maha-right-back-atcha, ball. Jaeger has been making that watch—and dozens of variations on the original—ever since.
The Reverso turns 85 this year, and this model, the Tribute Calendar, is one of its birthday presents. It retains the classic Art Deco shape, but instead of a solid metal back, this Reverso can display a different time zone on each side. That’s super convenient, but actually not very new. What’s new is how you set the two different sides.
Even though the Reverso can show two time zones, it uses only one mechanical movement. The hour hands ride on the same posts, just aimed at different numbers. In order to set one without altering the other, you have to decouple the two. In previous models, that meant fiddling with the crown until it’s in just the right position. The Tribute Calendar, though, has a clever switch, hidden on the top of its acrobatic body. Its two positions allow you to select which face you want to adjust. Even better: Unless you’re flipping the watch over, you can’t see it—so it doesn’t junk up the classic shape with unnecessary complexity.
With its two watch faces and $20,500 price tag, the Reverso Tribute Calendar is, unfortunately, no longer suitable for colonial polo matches. Fortunately, the Raj has been over for nearly 70 years.
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