Possibly the most iconic design created by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Reverso was first created in 1931. It was birthed from a practical need by British officers, to have a wristwatch that could survive the harrowing effects of a game of polo. The latest iteration in 2021, the 90th anniversary of the Reverso, comes in a green dial, set to the simple sub-seconds time only wrist watch.
Review: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Small Seconds Green
Retail is SGD 12,600 inclusive of GST.
The Case and Dial
With its rectangular and reversible dial, simple and refined lines, and iconic gadroons, this Art Deco-style watch is instantly recognizable as a Reverso. The watch is a simple time-only, with a classic sub-seconds layout. Polished applied hour markers accent the lacquer painted minutes railroad, accompanied by a simple duo facet pair of dauphine hands.
The dial is otherwise simple in its layout, with little to distract its wearer. It keeps to the original styling and adds a dash of color to its dial. The olive green dial has a sunburst finish, instead of the polished lacquer dial as used on the previous wine-dial iteration.
The stainless steel case measures 45.6 X 27.4mm and 8.5mm thick. As compared to the previous case iteration in the tribute to Reverso 1931, the lugs are shorter and more angled. This gives it a much better fit on slimmer wrists, while the former tends to have its lugs stick out, or have a strange fit with the old plastic insert style straps. Probably not mentioned much by reviewers, smaller wrist owners of the previous thin Reversos tend to have issues with the long lugs extending beyond strap gap. The new case definitely reduces this problem.
The rest of the case is fully polished, mirror finish on most flat surfaces with slight distortion on curved surfaces. One downside of the fully polished case is its ‘scratch magnetism’. Light daily wear easily turns up a case with plenty of hairline scratches and fingerprint marks.
The case consists of several parts, the main housing, and the base. The lugs are attached to the base using screws, and the main housing consists of two pieces screw fastened. The caseback is fully covered, which was the original intent of the watch to protect the crystal side when playing polo. Today, the caseback can be used as a blank canvas for personalization, from text to enamel micro art.
While earlier models had Casa Fagliano straps made from shell cordovan, last with the earlier production batch of wine-colored dials, the current models come with the Casa Fagliano ‘styled’ calf leather straps. While the design is similar, it is not as romantic as the shell cordovan straps made by a maison in Argentina that has been making Polo boots since 1892.
The watch uses the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 822/2, a slim 2.94mm manual winding movement with approximately 45 hours power reserve on a single barrel and beats at 21,600 vph. This is an entry level movement used by the brand, which has historic roots but could be more competitive with some enhancements. A longer power reserve, or anti-magnetic hairspring/movement would make for a more robust daily wearer.
Nonetheless, the movement is tested with JLC’s “1000 Hours Control” recognized by the seal engraved on the back of the watch certifies that each of the models has successfully undergone all of the qualification tests, and production tests. These ensure regularity of rate, resistance to variations in temperature and atmospheric pressure, ability to withstand shocks and magnetic fields, as well as water resistance.
The watch fits well on the wrist, is light and thin, has a sporty color and classic styling for versatility. As an owner of the older 1931 tribute to Reverso and the wine dial small-seconds, I find that this case is possibly the best across all Reverso models in current production; from the viewpoint of wearability and proportions. The shorter lugs lessens the rectangularity of the watch, and keeps it more centered on the wrist.
Overall, the watch is very attractive and a fun addition to any collection. Owning a Reverso makes a lot of sense considering that it is an icon of the brand and watchmaking at large. Some concerns of course is the possible endless color charts that can come from this model – we now have RGB; Red, Green and Blue in production. Not intrinsically a bad thing, but it may deplete the scarcity factor of the model. Otherwise, the green dial is a matter of preference, although, only the wine dial comes with polished lacquer while the blue and green are sunburst. Polished lacquer is much harder to work with especially during assembly.
Other concerns are with the competitiveness of the movement for the price – SGD$12,600. Most brands are starting their base model movements with 3-day power reserve, and anti-magnetic hairsprings. While it benefits from thinness, if there’s a way to upgrade the movement without affecting its size, the offering will be much more competitive than what it is today.
The JLC Reverso Tribute was photographed in the JLC Boutique in Shoppes at MBS. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 and HC2.8/80 with H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes.