The year was 1931, and French designer René-Alfred Chauvot had just submitted a patent for his invention of a timepiece that could slide on its base and be flipped over to protect the watch dial. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch, as it would later be known, was a product of a bet. British army officers had challenged Swiss businessman and watch collector César de Trey to create a watch that could withstand the crudity of a polo match.
After discussing the idea with Jacques-David LeCoultre, the then-owner of the LeCoultre manufacture, the job was later commissioned to Chauvot. Just like that, an iconic timepiece was born.
While modern wearers of the Reverso are not as rough-handed, the design is still thriving in the watch industry. Rather than it being used to protect the dial, the back of the Reverso is now a vital aspect of personalisation. Thanks to its ample surface space, customers can customise it with a short message engraved on the flip side of the case.
More recently, Jaeger-LeCoultre announced a new collection for this particular timepiece: The Reverso Tribute Enamel. Paying homage to both the artisanal craft of watch movements and enamelling, the Reverso Tribute Enamel will feature an enamelled miniature of a famous Art Deco painting.
Three have been chosen: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, an ink wash painting by Xu Beihong, and The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai.
Each chosen painting is distinct in its style and originality. Seurat’s explored pointillism, Xu’s was an ink wash painting, and Hokusai’s was a Japanese woodblock printing. What’s worth noting is that each of these Reverso Tribute Enamel timepieces have been painstakingly crafted by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Métier Rares artisans.
Each of the miniaturised paintings came with its own share of challenges during the production process. For example, recreating Seurat’s painting required the artisan enameller to create his own pointillism technique and tools to achieve the desired effect. It was also difficult to recreate Xu’s fluid ink wash features thanks to the multiple layers of enamel. Every miniature painting took no less than 70 hours to finish, adding to its exquisite quality.
With the versatility of space on the Reverso, it made perfect sense to adorn it with two works of art — the dial itself, and the enamel art on the flip side. The Reverso Tribute Enamel is definitely a fine collector’s edition and the perfect conversation-starter at any event. Each model is limited to only eight pieces and available exclusively in Jaeger-LeCoultre Boutiques.
Find out more about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel here.