It’s happened to all of us, right? We discover a watch — either online or on the wrist of one of our watch-savvy friends — and are eager to try one on for ourselves, only to find that the brand has either discontinued the watch, changed it to a style that doesn’t sing to us quite as much, or has simply has de-emphasized it, making room on retailers’ shelves for the newer models that the brand needs to move this year. There are places you can look, of course, especially online, but it can often be like walking through a minefield figuring out which of these sources to trust.
In my very first issue as an editor of WatchTime, we covered the introduction of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra, a square-cased version of the rectangular-cased classic Reverso. I took an instant liking to the Squadra’s masculine proportions and angular aesthetics, but I was apparently in the relative minority, as the collection is, eleven years later, no longer a cornerstone of the still-rich JLC portfolio, and thus not immediately available from the company for a review.
Fortunately, as I’ve discovered, there are resources outside the traditional retailers and auctioneers, such as the so-called “luxury consignment sites” — in the case of this review watch, one called Shopworn.com. The website claims to be “the only ecommerce website exclusively selling designer display-model watches, jewelry, and accessories sourced from authorized retailers around the world.” This means the watches on the site are not pre-owned per se, as in they are gently used, like-new models that have only been on display at an authorized boutique (and priced, of course, at a significant discount).
A scroll through Shopworn’s list of watch models for sale yielded a wealth of models, many current, but others falling into that “what ever happened to…?” category, including discontinued and/or recently redesigned models from Girard-Perregaux, Hublot, Omega, Oris, Tudor, and Ulysse Nardin — even examples of the circa-2013 IWC Ingenieur, just this year displaced by a redesigned version. Among these I found the most interesting and complicated of the Squadra models, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra World Chronograph, originally released in 2006. After an inquiry, the team at Shopworn — eager to tout the quality of its constantly updated “luxury trunk show” products — agreed to send me one for a few days to review. Here are some impressions.
The case is rather large (41 x 35 mm, not quite a perfect square), fairly thick (13 mm), and made of Grade 5 titanium. The classical Reverso case elements are all there, including the gadroons framing the top and bottom of the dial and wrapping around the case’s sleek edges. The exquisitely formed and angled surfaces boast a combination of polished and brushed finishes. It’s a very angular look rather than the smoothly flowing look of the classical Reverso’s soft rectangular cases — which of course, was the point, a conscious aesthetic effort to play off of the square theme. The chronograph pushers are long and rectangular, with a subtly curved surface at the top for tactile pleasure. Even the winding crown is octagonal rather than round, engraved with a relief JLC logo. Of course, the case is the classic swiveling Reverso type, sliding out to reveal a perlage pattern on the base underneath, then flipping over and sliding back with the reverse side at the top and clicking back into place with a firm, satisfying snap to display the opposite-side dial.
The square theme is most evident on the impressively symmetrical black dial, and its clever arrangement of the numerous functions on display. (Interesting side note: the term “Squadra,” which one might assume means “square” is actually the Italian word for “team” or “squadron,” perhaps a reference to the Reverso’s sporty origins as a watch for polo players.)
The hour numerals are in a somewhat blocky sans-serif Arabic font; each hour is denoted by a numeral except at the 12 , 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, where subdials are placed to indicate at least one additional function. Going around the horn: a big date in a double-window aperture at 12 o’clock; a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock; a GMT function with day-night indicator at 6 o’clock; and 12-hour chronograph counter at 9 o’clock. All the subdials are squared and surrounded by white tick marks on their edges, playing off of the large central square in the center of the dial (for the minutes) and the one that occupies the dial’s flange, upon which the red central hand tallies the chronograph seconds. Red appears as a highlight color throughout, on both subdials (the “12” and the “30”) and, most practically, representing the nighttime hours on the GMT subdial. The linear, horizontal guilloché motif on the dial’s center echoes the gadroons and enhances the watch’s streamlined overall look.
On the flip side of this dial is an eye-catching world time display, with the names of 24 world cities radiating outward from the center and surrounded by a black-and-white 24-hour scale. Turning the crown to its second position rotates the disk and allows the wearer to see the time (on a 24-hour scale) simultaneously in all the major time zones. The red highlight color comes into play here as well, dividing daylight from nighttime and denoting London as GMT 0.
The watch is driven by a manufacture movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Caliber 753, which is composed of 366 parts, including 44 jewels; beats at a frequency if 28,800 vph; and stores a power reserve of around 65 hours. Of course, like most Reverso models, the movement is hidden behind the solid caseback rather than on display through a sapphire window; some purists may find this a detriment, while others will agree with me that the world-time display, aside from being an attractive and utilitarian alternative, will impress the watch-connoisseur crowd just as much as an exhibition back would.
The matte-finish black link hard rubber bracelet integrates seamlessly into the faceted lugs, and offer a rather loose wrist feel as opposed to one that’s more snug; the looser feel is not really my thing but it’s certainly perfect for some. The bracelet nevertheless does offer a sense of security, with the two push-button-released ends of its double-folding clasp clicking neatly into position around a rectangular center piece with a JLC logo. The clasp’s attention to detail is impressive and pure Jaeger-LeCoultre: brushed finish on top, polished finish on the inside extensions; the interior edge of the clasp extension also features a Jaeger-LeCoultre logo.
If you, like me, are on the side of those who appreciated the Reverso Squadra World Chronograph’s somewhat polarizing design, I can recommend this watch without reservation, and can speak for the high quality, top-notch packaging, and prompt service provided by the gang at Shopworn. What does everyone think? Would you be interested in seeing more “throwback” reviews of models from past years as well as newer ones? I’m personally itching to compare the 2017 version of the IWC Ingenieur to the “new/old” 2013 version…