There are few watchmaking designs extra tangibly fulfilling than the Reverso. Conceived by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1931, it’s immediately recognizable for its Artwork Deco flip face, created for British colonial officers stationed in India to safeguard the glass throughout leisure-hour polo matches. To have a good time the mannequin’s ninetieth anniversary this yr, watch professional and Robb Report contributor Nicholas Foulkes dived into the Reverso’s historical past to provide a sprawling tome, revealed by Assouline, devoted to its timeless attraction. Foulkes spent about 18 months researching the ebook, which explores not solely the mannequin’s important mechanical feats however its twin function as a canvas for private expression, one thing for which the Reverso continues to be identified immediately, properly into an period that considers it a gown watch. Robb Report’s dialog with the creator has been condensed and edited for readability.
Why do you assume the Reverso has had such lasting attraction—practically a century now?
One of many Reverso’s strongest fits is that what was initially meant to be a protecting maneuver has become this fashion of appreciating magnificence. And though they’ve completely reengineered it—which I am going into at some size within the ebook—it appears to be like the identical as the unique.
What do you contemplate the pivotal level within the mannequin’s historical past?
In the event you have a look at the primary half of its life, it might simply have been a watch that lived and died in that point, but it surely was revived through the ’70s by one among their Italian distributors. On the time, the Italians have been main the development for wristwatch amassing and have been vastly influential in altering tastes. They’d some previous circumstances left over, and that’s how they restarted manufacturing. With every little thing these days, there’s a advertising story. What’s fairly good is that the previous is normally quite a bit much less tidy and much more fascinating.
Do you assume the mannequin mirrored altering attitudes towards design on the time?
When the ’20s arrived, it was the primary time being younger and energetic was a factor. You had Chanel utilizing jersey for gown cloth, for instance, which had been used for males’s underwear earlier than then. You had René Lacoste’s invention of the tennis/polo shirt. All style is a response towards what went earlier than. And amongst these other ways of doing issues was the wristwatch. It was a way more energetic method of utilizing a watch. Each facet of design was touched by that spirit of modernity and this kind of angular, hard-edged sleekness.
Is there a selected mannequin within the ebook you would like you owned?
I believe that the simple chronograph they did was fairly stunning, and in addition the three-faced Reverso with the astrological indicators—I’ve an important affection for it as a result of it exhibits how excessive watchmaking was within the ’90s.
Have you ever ever had face time with one of many unique fashions from the ’30s?
Sure, and the trendy ones are a lot better. They’re simply a lot extra completed now, as objects. When it comes to flipping the dial, the older ones are like if you’re an previous automobile and also you shut the door and it’s a bit tinny, whereas the brand new ones really feel like a contemporary Bentley, the place shutting the door seems like shutting a vault.
The Reverso can also be identified for its versatility when it comes to customizations. Do you might have a favourite?
I had a say in commissioning one, which featured the Scuola Grande di San Rocco of Venice (see beneath). I needed to jot down about [JLC’s] miniature enameling. They created this watch in order that I might showcase that ability. So, clearly, I’ve a passion for that one. The miniature enamel portray is so disciplined, so beautiful and so consigned. It’s what you’re keen on in regards to the Swiss: They make these tiny mechanical worlds in these small objects which might be, by all requirements, redundant. And but we love them.
Three examples that present the vary of personalization potentialities with a Reverso—and a little bit of creativeness.
An engraved and lacquered depiction of Amelia Earhart’s route for her nonstop, record-setting 1935 flight from Mexico Metropolis to New York, created in honor of the legendary feminine pilot that very same yr.
For his birthday in 2018, South Korean collector Cho Hyunchul had his younger son’s charming, freehand illustration engraved on the again of his Reverso.
This enamel portray of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco was commissioned by creator Nicholas Foulkes in 2016 and created by Jaeger-LeCoultre to have a good time their patronage of the constructing in Venice.