An elegant solution – BusinessWorld Online

LUXURY watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre already had a very costly problem in their hands in 1931: Difficult games were breaking the expensive watches of polo players. The brand – founded in 1833 – then released one of its most popular watches, the Reverso, and arguably one of the most elegant (in any sense) solutions to a problem ever. They designed the Reversos to be able to flip over, protecting the dial during a polo match.

The elegantly practical solution now becomes a benchmark of skills, an evolution since the 90 years of its first creation. At a press conference last week, the brand showed off the many more stylish apps that can be hidden and protected by the watch – it also serves as a very tiny hiding place. King Edward VIII had one, still bearing his name and royal emblem even after abdicating the throne the very year he took it. Aviator Amelia Earhart had hers, and hers was engraved with the route of her record-breaking flight from Mexico City to New York.

A Reverso with only 10 pieces in the world, called the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Caliber 185, is the most complicated timepiece in the collection. It is the world’s first wristwatch with four working dials. “The Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque can predict the next global incidence of astronomical events such as super moons and eclipses – the world’s first wristwatch to provide such an in-depth reading of the cosmos,” a company statement said. The watch has a total of 11 complications, including a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater, indications of synodic, draconic and anomalous lunar cycles (never presented together in a wristwatch), requiring 12 patents.

A laser-engraved moon is gradually covered and revealed by a movable blue lacquer disc decorated with gold spangles, corresponding to the age of the moon in the synodic cycle. While conventional moon phase displays accumulate one day of error after 32.5 months, the Quadriptych’s moon phase display requires only one adjustment after 1,111 years.

Just below the moon phase display, to the left, is a counter with a three-dimensional micro-sculpted rose gold sun orbiting a tiny hemispherical moon. This counter shows the dragon cycle, indicating when the Moon’s path crosses the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (known as the ecliptic). Such an intersection takes place twice in each cycle, indicated by the horizontal alignment on the moon and sun counter. To the right of the dragon cycle counter is a dome-shaped representation of the Earth, micro-painted in enamel, with a hemispherical moon in eccentric orbit around it. This counter represents the anomalistic cycle, showing the varying distance between the Earth and the Moon.

At the same time, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents the Reverso Tribute Nonantième, a watch celebrating its 90e birthday. The rose gold case with signature gadroons frames a sunray silvered dial with gold applied indexes and Dauphine hands. In the lower half of the dial, a moon phase display is placed in the circle formed by the small seconds counter. Below 12 o’clock is a large date display, framed by a rose gold appliqué thread that echoes the rectangular shape of the dial and case.

The solid rose gold caseback is dominated by two round apertures of different sizes, arranged in eight and surrounded by gadroons which echo the rectilinear gadroons on the upper and lower edges of the case. The small top aperture displays a semi-jumping digital time indication. Presented for the first time in a Reverso, this complication recalls the digital displays developed by the Manufacture for wristwatches in the 1930s.

In the large window below the hour, the minutes are displayed on a rotating disc partially hidden by a three-quarter plate lacquered in bright blue and dotted with tiny golden stars representing the night sky. In a small circle in the center, an applied golden sun and moon pass over a horizon, to indicate night and day. In the semicircle below the horizon, a JL logo is placed on a sunbeam patterned background.

As with all complicated Reverso models, the engineers at Jaeger-LeCoultre have developed an entirely new manual-winding movement for the Nonantième, the Caliber 826. Composed of 230 components and displaying the same time on both sides of the watch, it offers a 42-hour power reserve. The Reverso Tribute Nonantième is offered in a limited edition of 190 pieces, only available in the brand’s boutiques.

Yet in many ways, it’s the little moments celebrated by the Reverso that often give it meaning. Iñigo Ohlsson, Managing Director South-East Asia & Oceania spoke of the engravings he encountered behind the dials of the Reverso. “Anyone can customize a Reverso however they want. What’s quite unique is that because the case rotates, you can hide the message.

“Every time I have spoken with someone who has had their Reverso engraved, they have engraved something close to their hearts,” he said.

In the Philippines, Jaeger-LeCoultre is distributed by Lucerne. – Joseph L. Garcia

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