It’s been a hot minute since the last review and I couldn’t be more excited to share my thoughts about a watch in my own collection, the Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso Tribute. For those of you who prefer the long form this one is for you, feel free to make a coffee or negroni and buckle up.
To avoid this becoming a history lesson or regurgitation of marketing material, I won’t be touching too much on the Reverso origin story, but I will say the watch has evolved quite a lot over the last 90 years while remaining true to its roots. This particular reference substitutes the typical silver dial and Arabic numerals of the classic Reverso with a gorgeous array of applied indices, logo, dagger hands, small seconds and a magical blue dial. It is undeniably art deco inspired, which I find so exciting and exotic in comparison to the more gentile expressions of the Classic Reverso.
What The Reverso Means To Me
The Reverso is an important watch in our family, with the Christmas of 2020 being the year my Father and I bought Mum her Classic Medium Reverso manual wind. When Mum worked at her day job in Thailand, she would be winding her tank cased watch (Mum came from very humble beginnings, so this piece would have been no more than something to tell time) on the ferry to work or at her desk first thing in the morning. Mum’s always explained how much she loves square watches and the resounding click it made when she wound it up every day. Even without her sneaky reminders about how tank cases are very much her style (wink wink, nudge nudge) I knew I wanted to buy her a Reverso and it was such a special day for us all to see it on her wrist. So now, we match watches whenever we can and the Reverso is always the watch I picture Mum wearing.
As for my Reverso, I opted for the Tribute Monoface. It comes in at 45.6mm x 27.4mm x 8mm, suiting my 6.5-inch wrist perfectly, bridging the gap between the classic medium size (which is wearable but does feel slight) and the Duoface (which was far too large for me). The footprint of the watch is akin to a 38mm round watch but when it comes to your wrist, I would strongly suggest trying on a Reverso to be sure what model suits you best. It’s not only circumference that comes into play, but the profile/flatness that can affect the way the certain sizes sit on your wrist.
Out of the box, the Reverso Tribute is delivered on a dark blue Casa Fagliano strap affixed with a folding deployant clasp. While the Casa Fagliano strap feels like a very premium product, the colour and heft of the strap with said deployant dominates the wearing experience. I felt like the matte blue of the strap undermined the sunburst dial of the Tribute, rather than celebrating it. After a quick trip to friendly neighbourhood strap maker Artisan Straps and a new JLC tang buckle, we were back in business with a range of colours and materials to boot. Instantly, the new straps made the dial sing and remedied the bulky feeling of the original arrangement. Once the strap situation was sorted, I finally felt the Reverso Tribute was my watch.
On The Wrist
I’ve long championed the dressy casual look to persuade enthusiasts to wear those formal pieces on the day to day grind, particularly with a shirt or jeans to show just how versatile these watches can be. I took my own advice and wore the Reverso for over a month straight and the visual impact of that blue dial never fades away. The dial and high polish applique will have you rolling your wrist back and forth, inside and out just to see how the colour shifts and shimmers throughout the day. The dial transforms from a deep midnight blue to the purple you can see in the gallery below (and before you ask, nope, no photoshop!) It is oh so maginificient and no matter how many times I’ve peered down to check out this watch, every now and then a new shade of colour seems reveal itself.
Can we also talk about the way the hour markers are faceted (as are the hands) but also cut at the tip closest to the centre to add yet another angle of reflection? The Tribute offers so much depth from a dial side due to all the applied Art Deco features, made even more impressive when you consider how JLC have managed to house it all in a case less than 8mm thick.
The crisp white print of the railroad minutes and small seconds track pop against the dial and rounds off what I think is one of the best looking Reverso’s money can buy. Okay, I might be bias but I have indeed put my money where my mouth is and bought one for myself. And I am so glad I did, whenever I put this watch on the wrist, it drips with cool. Whenever I catch a glimpse of it in the reflection of a mirror or on camera during a zoom meeting (we all do it), there is a certain wow factor that comes from the case being so far removed from a typical round shape. Distinct and proud without being loud or blingy, you may need to remind yourself that you are not actually as cool as the watch makes you feel whenever you’re wearing it… I know I did. That’s not to say you shouldn’t rock it proudly amongst a sea of steel sports watches, it never fails to be a hit with watch enthusiasts and even those who aren’t as crazy about watches as we are. It is a brilliantly designed object with an enchanting dial and you don’t need to be a connoisseur to appreciate that.
Winding the watch every day by the big crown and exceptionally smooth 822 calibre is a treat. The clicks are concise and satisfying, reaffirming confidence in what we know is a tried-and-true movement. With the Reverso being JLC’s flagship model in many ways, I would expect nothing less from the watchmaker’s watchmaker. On the rare occassion I decided to fidget with the case and flip it over to reveal a blank stainless steel caseback begging to be engraved, the action is lovely and locks into place with an affirming click.
This is the first dress watch I have owned and the way it captures my attention and affection every time I wear it, or even look at it, has solidified just how imporant beautiful finishing is to me as a collector. Yes, we are living in a sports watch dominated era, but who cares when you can be taken by a watch that is as mesmerising as this one. Admittedly, I’ll remove the Tribute before I do anything demanding in an effort to protect the notoriously soft JLC steel alloy from being scratched, exacerbated by its entirely high polish case. However, 99% of the time it was up to the challenge of day to day wear, not bad for a dress watch I’d say!
Out of all my pieces, the Reverso is the piece I find myself staring at the most just to observe the various finishes. Nothing better than being out and about during the day and being met with a beaming blue dial only for the polished surfaces to steal the show as the sun goes down.
From its breathtaking looks, ergonomic case and brilliant movement, it made we wonder why something like this is not thought to be an alternative to widely accepted icons of the time only, manually wound dress watches category.
It has all the attributes as the Calatrava, Saxonia and Traditionelle… but is half the price, what gives?
I would say the Reverso Tribute is just shy of the 10/10 perfection that VC, Lange and Patek can achieve with their Traditionelle, Saxonia and Calatrava. When I have the Reverso under intense macro, that is the only time I understand why this particular piece retails at $12,200 AUD new, rather than $30k+ AUD in respect to the brands mentioned before. It has the feintest (like really really really feint) hint of surface blemish on the hands and indices, but otherwise, I can’t fault it. The rest of the package is near on perfect. Ask me if the Calatrava, Saxonia and Traditionelle are twice the watch the Reverso is, I would hesitate to say yes. It offers just as much personality, sex appeal and x factor, if not more. It’s only the impeccable casebacks and perfection under macro that proves to be the difference.
Having handled some of JLC’s Gyrotourbillions and grand complications, they definitely have it in their locker to achieve finishing as great as PP, VC and ALS, but it just wasn’t applied here. And in all honesty, I’m okay with that. I do not want to see the day that an entry level Reverso begins at $30k AUD, putting it out of reach for collectors like myself. I will never complain about the finishing of my Tribute, it never leaves me wanting and for less than half price of Switzerland’s and Germany’s best, the choice is obvious for me. It almost seems unfair and irrelevant to compare the Tribute against the big boys, but these are the minuscule differences and slim margins we analyse within this hobby. I believe a fairer comparison would be a Cartier Tank due to the price point and emphasis on design, but I am yet to spend much time with the Tank and won’t be able to form a concrete opinion until then!
To close it out, this watch is spectacular and I adore it. To get into a brand that is one of the most storied watchmakers in the world, an icon in its own right, as beautiful as it is cool, I don’t think there a lot of new watches out there as exciting and adoring as this one. It’s hard to describe just how wonderful the blue sunburst dial is, how sexy the watch feels on the wrist and how it makes me feel classier than I really am. Don’t be fooled into thinking its a one trick pony that relies on its dial or for a suited and booted event to justify its place in your watch collection. It’s a piece that has delivered so much more than I expected and one I truly enjoy wearing any time or any place I can.