The JLC Grande Reverso Ultra Thin
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Grand Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931 is a paradox. At under 30mm wide and a mere 8mm thick (or is that thin?) this modern re-edition of the classic polo watch should be too small for modern tastes. Equally, the Art Deco looks of the guilloché dial and horizintal lines on the surrounding case do not immediately mark it as a sports watch – but this is one of the first, true sports watches, designed back in 1931 by LeCoultre in response to a request to make a watch that would be protected from shocks / knocks on the polo field. The simple solution – a reversible case – also had a secondary function, providing a large surface for personal engravings or other patterns.
The history of the Reverso is long and winding. Over the past eighty years, this watch has graced the wrists of men and women, growing and shrinking in size as the decades change. Recent models have (in my opinion) pushed the boundaries of taste somewhat, taking these Art Deco lines to a slightly bloated conclusion, but this “tribute” to the original 1931 version returns the Reverso to its near-original specs (the Ultra Thin can be seen at right, ref Q2788520).
|Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931|
Powered by the 3mm high JLC Calibre 822 (a manual wind, hand-decorated movement beating at a refined 21,600 bph) the ultra-thin Ultra Thin model has managed to reduce the case thickness of the original version by a couple of millimetres, allowing the watch to almost float above the wrist. It’s a fine achievement, which has culminated in the incredibly refined Tribute model (ref Q2788570). This version relegates the JLC logo to the caseback, instead proudly displaying its Reverso credentials against a black background (at left, top).
From a personal perspective, I think I’d find it very hard to choose between the two models shown. The Tribute to 1931 would be perfect for evening wear, while the Ultra Thin, with those beautifully blued steel hands probably goes better with a business / lounge suit. Either way, it’s remarkable how well the watch sits on the wrist, despite it’s almost feminine dimensions – at 27.5 x 46mm, it would probably be the slimmest watch I’ve worn. Reversed, JLC have left an admirable amount of space for personal engraving that really cries out for an inscription (or perhaps an enamelled painting?), although I cannot think what I would have inscribed. Suggestions on a postcard the the usual address please!