Introducing Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Minute RepeaterBy Neha S Bajpai
For six decades after its birth, Jaeger Le-Coultre’s Reverso had been a time-only watch displaying hours, minutes and occasionally seconds as well. Born on the polo fields of India in 1931, this revolutionary idea of a luxury sports watch with a swiveling case got a huge boost of mechanical creativity and innovation on its 60th anniversary. Together with Henry-John Belmont, the then CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre and French designer Janek Deleskiewicz, Günter Blümlein steered Reverso’s story into a new direction with a slew of complications launched in the 1990s. Crafted out of pink gold, the Reverso 60ème with a power reserve and date hand was introduced in 1991. The anniversary special was soon followed by the brand’s first tourbillon wristwatch in 1993, first minute repeater in 1994, first retrograde chronograph in 1996, and the first perpetual calendar in 2000 — all in a Reverso.
Despite the added challenge that rectangular movements dictate an entirely different architecture from that of the round movements traditionally used for complications, Jaeger-LeCoultre has continued to enrich the Reverso with a variety of complications. The Maison introduced the world’s first rectangular minute repeater movement, Caliber 943, in the Reverso Répétition Minutes unveiled in 1994.
For the Reverso’s 80th anniversary in 2011, Jaeger-LeCoultre rolled out six commemorative models, including the Répétition Minutes à Rideau, a minute repeater limited to 75 pieces that was not just mechanically complex but visually captivating as well. Powered by Calibre 944, the watch presented a ‘Venetian blind’ casing to cover the dial. Once the wearer disengaged the minute repeater, the curtain would slide to reveal a series of gears, hammers and gongs to chime the hours, quarter hours and minutes.
This year, as the brand celebrates nine glorious decades of the Reverso, we get to see another striking timepiece in the collection – the Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater. Equipped with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s patented trebuchet hammers, silent regulator and a new generation of gongs, this watch is powered by a revised version of Calibre 944 – a movement entirely conceived, designed and produced within the Manufacture. Crafted out of pink gold, the 51.1 x 31 mm minute repeater presents two distinct dials that offer a glimpse of the intricately decorated mechanism on both sides. While the front face is entirely skeletonised to reveal the workings of the minute repeater mechanism, the reverse dial is more subdued, exposing a captivating mainplate, which has been decorated with vertical Côtes de Genève stripes. Both dials showcase the timekeeping mechanism against an attractive backdrop of subtle colour accents provided by the blued screws and warm rose gold of the case.
Set into the side of the watch case, the slider that activates the chimes has been specially designed for the new Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater to be as slim as possible, without sacrificing ergonomics.
Back in the day, Le Coultre was famous for its minute repeaters and if one digs deep into the Maison’s archives, there will be a mention of an exquisite pocket watch in yellow gold with blue enamel and an openwork dial featuring a minute repeater made in 1928. 150 years after creating its first minute repeater, Jaeger-LeCoultre is now presenting the Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater that echoes the Maison’s expertise in striking timepieces that are elegant and intriguing at the same time.
With an archive of more than 200 chiming calibres made over the last two centuries, Jaeger-LeCoultre has mastered the art of miniaturisation and construction of the minute repeater mechanism since it created the first minute repeater for a wristwatch in 1994.
The Reverso Répétition Minutes was equipped with the world’s first rectangular minute repeater movement. Originally conceived for a round watch, the movement for this watch was modified half way during its construction to fit into a rectangular case. The shape of the non-round gongs and the subsequent attachment to the case was challenging but the watchmakers ultimately realized this vision and charted a new story for the company’s chiming watches.
Besides being a technically complex piece, the new Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater gets my vote for its finesse. Despite the skeleton dial that can make most watch faces look terribly busy, this watch presents a clearly defined architecture – a large bow-shaped bridge sweeping from 11 o’clock to 7 o’clock, faceted indexes that are cantilevered from the chemin de fer minutes track, contrasting finishes and more.
Limited to 10 pieces, the Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater is the perfect example of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s exceptional expertise in presenting a classic complication in an unusual yet timeless case.
Tech Specs: Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 944, manually wound
Case & Dial: Pink Gold; 51.1 x 31 mm; thickness: 11.41 mm; Power reserve of 35 hours; Water resistance up to 30 m
Functions: Hours and Minutes on two dials, minute repeater
Strap: Brown alligator
Price & Availability: Limited edition of 10 pieces; 250,000 Euros