Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds
In a world dominated by round wristwatches, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso stands out as among the most recognisable non-round timepieces in the market. Deemed by many connoisseurs as a must-have watch in any collection, the success of this reversible, rectangular watch is not just down to its timeless design, but also interesting origin (everyone loves a good story). Born of a challenge from the 1930s, the Reverso was originally designed to withstand the polo matches of the British Army officers in India. The idea of the reversible case was to conceal the dial and protecting it from mallet strokes.
Today, the Reverso is no longer manufactured strictly for the purpose of sport. Rather, it is worn by those captivated by its unique history, charming Art Deco design, and reversible versatility. This year happens to be the 90th anniversary of the Reverso. And in that span of 90 years, numerous iterations have been conjured out of the original Reverso. One of these iterations is the Duoface, named after the fact that it has two faces – one at the front, one at the back. Having been introduced in 1994, the Duoface is considered a contemporary Reverso. But even after almost 30 years, the model continues to be desirable, as evidenced by its longevity, making it a modern classic. In conjunction with the 90th birthday of the Reverso, and while waiting for the anniversary model to be revealed, we take a trip down memory lane to revisit the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
Measuring in at 42.9 mm lug-to-lug and 25.5 mm from side-to-side, the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds is perfectly sized for the average wrist. With a case rendered in stainless steel, the watch is versatile and will look the part at any social setting, be it casual or formal. Of course, any talk of the Reverso isn’t legitimate until the iconic design of the case is mentioned. The main selling point of the Reverso has always been its reversible case. In single-sided models, turning the case reveals a blank slate that can be further customised, at the request of the client, usually by means of enameling or engraving. But with models like the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds, there is a second dial at the back of the case, typically with different displays and design. Apart from being rectangular, the case of the Duoface (and other Reverso models) also distinguishes itself with the three emblematic gadroons that surround the dial.
For the Reverso Duoface, being “two-faced” is a feature, not a bug. On the front end is a classic dial. Delicately guilloched, the centre of the dial features sword-style hands in flame-blued steel. The Arabic numerals that mark the hours are affixed atop the satin-finished portion of the dial. The 6 o’clock position is occupied by the small seconds with a rectangular track. Turning the case reveals a second dial, dressed entirely in black, that can be used for a second time zone. Contrastingly, it is the periphery of this dial that is adorned with a Clous de Paris-patterned guilloche finish, not the centre like the front. And instead of a small seconds display at the 6 o’clock position, here it is occupied by a 24-hour cum day/night indicator. Switching between the classical dial and the more contemporary black dial is as straightforward as flipping the case; going from boardroom to bar has never been easier.
Driving the Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds is the 160-part, 19-jewel Calibre 854A/2. The manually wound movement has a power reserve of 42 hours off of one barrel and operates at a stately 3 Hz frequency. Apart from telling the time in hours, minutes and seconds, it also has a second time zone function, as well as a 24-hour function that doubles as a day/night indicator.
While there isn’t any means by which the owner could visually admire the movement (save for opening the watch up), we can trust that the movement has been finished to an extent beyond functional requirements. This is the least you can expect from all current Jaeger-LeCoultre movements.
The Competitive Landscape
There is so much to like about the Reverso Duoface. It is versatile, iconic, gorgeous, and value for money – think of it as buying two watches for the price of one. And the price for the lovely Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds? SGD13,100. A more-than-fair price for a luxury watch of this calibre and heritage. But how does the Reverso Duoface compare to other rectangular watches in the market?
Another non-round wristwatch that is arguably as historical as the Reverso is the Cartier Tank. The Cartier Tank made its debut in the late 1910s and since then, many iterations have arisen. The one featured in the photograph below is the latest reinterpretation of the Tank Cintree variation, first designed by Louis Cartier, the brand’s founder, in 1921. The Cintree was the first variation on the original Tank and it has a curvier, elongated design relative to its predecessor. Priced north of SGD20,000, the Cintree, which has no complications, costs more than double the price of the Reverso Duoface. This price discrepancy is due in part to its precious metal case and much more subjectively, branding and heritage. Whether or not it offers better bang for buck than the Reverso depends on what one values in watch collecting and is thus up to the connoisseur to decide.
For something a little less well known but palpably more decadent, look no further than the Lang & Heyne Georg. The Georg was Lang & Heyne’s first and only rectangular watch back in 2017. Today, it remains one of the most opulent and beautiful watch of its kind. Between the enamel dial and absurdly well-finished movement, the Georg is nearly peerless. Of course, such excellence comes at a price. For this Saxon masterpiece, that price approximates EUR30,000 (depending on the variant).
The Reverso Classic Medium Duoface Small Seconds is a timepiece that you simply can’t hate. It is thoughtfully designed, versatile, iconic, and for a luxury watch, great value for money. The Reverso Classic range, including the Duoface, is the perfect place for anyone to start their first foray into fine watches. And even for the veterans, a watch as timeless as it will always have a place in a collection of any calibre.