INTRODUCING: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater Limited EditionZach Blass
If you were to ask me what my favorite complication in watchmaking is, my answer would undoubtedly be the minute repeater. For me, fine watchmaking is about looking into the past and, while a completely unnecessary functionality in the modern world, there is an everlasting charm about a watch that can chime the time. Born from a need to relay the time in darkness before the age of luminous material, the solution back in the day was to make the time audible when visibility failed. Maybe it is my German heritage and my memory of the glockenspiel clocks in my grandmother’s household. Or the fact that, while I am not particularly religious, there is also something undeniably special about church clocks ringing on the hour – a magical musical moment. The fact this emotion can be captured on the wrist via a complex series of gears can effectively put on a show on demand. Ninety years after the birth of the Reverso, and 150 years after their first completed minute repeater, JLC has introduced a new limited edition of 10 pieces worldwide: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater.
Coming in at a lovely size of 31mm x 11.4mm x 51.1mm, the pink gold case takes a modern yet classic stance on the wrist – appealing to both vintage and present day sensibilities. Also take into account how complicated the watch is, and the fact that JLC managed to pack it all into very reasonable dimensions. The art-deco rectangular case is entirely mirror polished, with three line engravings framing the top and bottom of the dial. As a Reverso, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater continues the tradition of having a carriage middle case that can be flipped over at the wearer’s discretion. Originally the idea was to have a solid caseback, a fitting space for engravings as well as a means of protecting the crystal while engaging in activities such as polo.
People forget this was an early entry into the sports watch category, even if it is considered a dress piece by today’s standards. As you flips the middle case over from one side to the next, you will notice the fixed caseback decorated with a sunray motif – an added touch of elegance not always seen, but you know is there. And of course, at the 10′ position on the left side of the case is the slider mechanism that will activate the chimes of the repeater, designed to be as slim as possible as to not interfere with the ergonomics of the case.
Openworked, or skeleton dials, can have the drawback of legibility. Especially with such a complicated caliber visible beneath, the feast for the eyes can be a bit distracting when trying to discern the time. I mean, there is a lot to enjoy on dial one. You can see the chiming hammers between the 12′ and 2′ hour indices, the regulating governor between 4′ and 5′ hour indices, as well as the mainspring adjacent to the 6′ hour index (along with much more). Strategically, however, JLC have made the apt choice of having white metal dauphine hands against the backdrop of the pink gold bridges and framing hour indices. While at first glance the mis-matched tones may seem like a visual mistake, the contrasting tone increases the visibility of the hands and therefore makes it easier to read the time. Bordering the dial is a pink on black chemin de fer (railroad) minutes track, the pink on black reminiscent of uses made in Ancient Greece.
Ever heard a collector say they wish they could wear their watch on the movement side? Well JLC has made that possible on both fronts, with the second dial displaying the more conventional side of the movement – its balance wheel and gear train all in view. Because the bridges remain in their rhodium plated finish, the hours and minutes hands of the second dial are rendered in pink gold. This maintains the legibility of the dial for the wearer. On this side of the dial, the outer minutes track is black on white, overall making the second dial the more sober of the pair. Stunning nonetheless.
Fittingly for such an elegant watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater is outfitted on a brown alligator strap, secured by a case matching pink gold clasp. The brown tone pairs well with the colour of rose gold, and while it would work on a variety of coloured straps it is perhaps at its best with this factory pairing.
Inside of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater ticks the manually wound in-house caliber 944. It has a power reserve of 35 hours, and while it does not break any records in that regard, the caliber does really stand out with its exquisite decorations. You have a visual masterclass of perlage, vertical Côtes de Genève, blued screws, rich satin brushing, and chamfers to the edges of the bridges. In terms of the main event, its minute repeater complication, the acoustics and tones are beautiful to the ear – conveying the hours, quarters, and then minutes via three distinct sounds.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater pricing and availability:
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater, a limited edition of 10 pieces, is available for inquiry now. Price: €250,000