Horological heaven

It’s been a rather painful couple of weeks for me, if truth be told. I’d been a bit extravagant with regard to cameras and god knows what accessories of late, and then had my head turned by a car that I hadn’t planned on buying. A couple of watch sales that were intended to raise funds became trades instead, and the upshot is that I’ve gone down from 16 to 11 watches in quite a short space of time. Indeed, some of those that have gone have been quite delectable vintage pieces, but in truth I’ve been a little bored with Rolex – and with sports watches – for a while now. However, a constant craving – to quote Ms Laing – for months now has been a Reverso, and I’ve tried many on, met a few WIS to either window shop or consider buying a specific model and have mulled over the various sizes that JLC offer before finally making a decision. And it wasn’t even a decision that I’d have predicted, but more on that in a second…

I’ve written about the history of the Reverso before, but for those that aren’t familiar with it the story goes all the way back to the winter of 1930/31. Cesar de Trey – a swiss businessman – attended a British Army polo match where one of the officers had broken the crystal of his watch whilst playing. Trey was challenged to find a solution to this problem and having come up with an idea in terms of case design then came to an agreement with Jaques-David LeCoultre, who would provide the movement. LeCoultre commissioned Jaeger SA to build the case, and the Reverso was born officially in 1931.

Some digging around reveals the original patent drawings…

And, of course, the first Reverso to be made available (which has even now taken on the guise of the Tribute to 1931, which I’ve tried on and is gorgeous)… 38mm long, 24mm wide and just 6mm high, the same size as today’s Reverso Classique.

The watch became an immediate success, heralded not only for its quality but for the innovation in its design…

So, fast forward a mere 82 years, and the postman’s ring of the doorbell this morning bought something of a long chase to a rather wonderful end. I now have a Reverso Grande Sun Moon on my wrist as I type this post; it’s far more beautiful than I can adequately articulate, but hopefully the photos below do it just the slightest bit of justice in this respect. Guilloche dial, blued hands and a power reserve indicator in the top left corner – but the really breathtaking elements are the day/night indicator at top right and the moonphase with sub-seconds at bottom right. Somehow, with all that going on, the dial still seems beautifully balanced – a work of art, really.

The real wonder, though, is revealed when the watch is flipped over to show what can only be described as one of the most magnificent movements through the display back. The JLC calibre 873 is a handwound movement providing an incredible 8-day power reserve in what is a quite miraculous twin barrelled design. It consists of 213 parts and contains 25 jewels, all combining to beat at 28,800 vph. As if that’s not enough, the hand decoration is quite sublime, from the Cotes de Geneve stripes to the constellation of stars formed by the rubies and blued screws. In other words, a mirroring of the themes on the dial on the movement itself.

It’s probably obvious that I’m thrilled with this watch, and as I reduce the numbers even more over coming months I’m quite sure that it will see more wrist time than most. For now, though, all I can do is try in some way to demonstrate what I’ve been rambling on about. Hope you like the photos!

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