The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Duetto Jewelry, a precious take on the iconic case
There are few watches in our industry that command the level of respect, admiration, and adoration that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso can. The model line is arguably as famous as the brand that brought it to market. And now, a jewelry-led design looks to broaden this icon’s appeal.
Although any brand development consultant would urge you to avoid building a mono-product marque, when you’ve got a nailed-on classic in your collection like the Reverso, things could be worse. The iconic polo-inspired watch with its reversible case (that was conceived as a way of protecting the fragile crystal from severe impacts during a polo match) has proven itself against all odds.
The watch is not round. Its most traditional references are not large. Its reputation grew despite it not being especially well-known for horological wizardry (although JLC has always produced excellent movements and has, in recent years, flexed its muscles in that department with a handful of highly complicated Reverso references). And yet, it is a cornerstone of not just the brand, but the industry as well.
While most people probably think of the Reverso whenever they think of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the brand is also well-known for its excellence in the field of par excellence jewelry. With the One Duetto model, a 20mm wide, 40mm long, and 9.09mm thick addition, Jaeger-LeCoultre is reminding us all that it knows a thing or two about diamond setting. To prove that point, the brand has set 335 stones (totaling 2.44 carats) into the elegant rose gold housing with the option of a stunning stone-set bracelet boasting a total carat weight of 8.15.
The stone setting on the bracelet is exquisite and the five-link design is both robust and graceful at the same time. The Jaeger-LeCoultre One Duetto would surely have been the pinnacle of even the most fashionable flapper’s wardrobe. Three-hundred-and-eighty-four additional diamonds make for a total of 719 when added to the case’s haul. Phenomenal.
The Low Down
For fans of the Reverso, these are exciting times. As we approach the model’s centenary (which will be celebrated in 2031), the Reverso family is in fine fettle. The brand has timed its experimentation with the piece almost perfectly so that whatever it chooses to do to mark 100 years of the Reverso, will seem believably genuine rather than a mad, off-the-wall exploitation of history. Whatever we see in eight years’ time, be in a completely faithful reissue of the original model, a “heritage-inspired” homage to it, a wacky complication that places watchmaking front and center of the piece, or a completely iced-out explosion of elegance, it will feel familiar.
This piece brings together the Duetto complication, which is so named for the two back-to-back dials, and a diamond set case, available with either a shiny black leather strap or a fully diamond-set bracelet, also in rose gold, which really sets the bar at an all-new level.
The two dials in question are either a silver sunray dial (when the crown is on the right), or a sparkling black display revealed when the watch is flipped over. The silver dial employs charming Deco-inspired Arabic numerals that have an unusually irreverent flourish at the tips, while the black dial relies on thin double indexes that meet a central circle, giving the impression of a shining sun (or perhaps, given the incredible darkness of the dial, a lunar eclipse).
While the silver dial is undoubtedly handsome and suitable for daily business, it is the provocative black dial that steals the show. When the case is flipped over to what can only imagine is the evening persona of the watch, the whole item comes alive. The black dial somehow transforms it from a watch primarily into an object of jewelry first and foremost.
I dearly wish I could pull off this high jewelry piece, but, alas, I’m quite convinced it would look out of place at the end of my hirsute forearms. However, from an objective perspective, I must say this is a truly magical watch from JLC, and, when the black dial is showing, perhaps the finest example of Art Deco-inspired watchmaking I have ever seen.
High praise? I intend it as such. While I do think the silver side drops the ball ever so slightly (there is something a touch too youthful about the ends of those numbers that seem to me to be something like serifs in the early phase of germination, nodding awkwardly at a more nouveau style, which is jarringly at odds with the rest of the proposition), it must be said that the watch is a triumph. The Duetto complication allows for one watch to have two distinct characters. Even though I love one character significantly more than the other, it should be said that JLC has fulfilled its task with aplomb.
The cleverest thing about Caliber 844 (entirely developed and produced in-house) is that both dials show the same time simultaneously, running off the same movement. While that might sound pretty standard at first, such a dual display actually requires the hands to be running in different directions (and therefore be able to be set in different directions. It is truly an impressive achievement of the watchmakers, who, in addition to figuring out this unusual mechanism (which first appeared in 1997), have ensured that the modern Caliber 844 has a very healthy power reserve of 50 hours. As a watchmaker, I really appreciate packing that functionality and ingenuity into such a small case and applaud JLC for continuing to champion the Reverso.
Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso One Duetto Jewellery
Functions: Hours and minutes
Case: 20mm wide, 40mm long, 9.09mm thick, made from 750/1000 Rose Gold (18-karat)
Dial: Silver sunray with Arabic numerals, or black glitter with double-line indices
Strap: Either shiny black leather (reference Q336247J) or a 384-diamond-studded five-link bracelet (reference Q3362370)
Price: Upon Request
MORE STORIES ABOUT JAEGER-LECOULTRE
FROM THE SHOP
|Movement||Self-winding caliber FBN 229.01 with natural escapement; 72-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes and small seconds|
|Case||40mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 30m|
|Dial||Verdant green, with sector track; applied, white rhodium treated gold Arabic numerals and hour markers|
|Strap||Brown calf leather with Alcantara lining, stainless steel pin buckle; additional Milanese bracelet in stainless steel|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 15 pieces|