Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced its first timepiece with a minute repeater 150 years ago, and its most iconic wristwatch, the Reverso, 90 years ago. This year, the Swiss manufacture pays homage to both milestones with a single horological chef d’oeuvre, the Reverso Tribute Minute Repeater, unveiled today at the New York opening of the brand’s Atelier d’Antoine workshop.
The watch comes as a sequel of sorts to the now-legendary Reverso Répétition Minutes — released in 1994 in the waning days of the Quartz Crisis and anticipating the subsequent renaissance of mechanical watchmaking — which contained the first rectangular minute repeater movement. That watch also represented the first time in its long history that Jaeger-LeCoultre had miniaturized a minute repeater caliber to fit a wristwatch, despite its historical expertise in making chiming timekeepers: today, its archive contains more than 200 chiming movements.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest minute repeater movement, actually a revised version of its existing Caliber 944, is housed in a rose-gold version of the classical swiveling Reverso case, measuring 51.1 mm x 31 mm in dimensions and 11.41 mm thick, with the Art Deco lines and flourishes that have distinguished the Reverso since its initial release in 1931. Also in traditional Reverso fashion, the front and back dial each embody a distinctive character that sets each apart from the another. The front face is skeletonized to reveal the complexity of the chiming mechanism when it’s activated by the ergonomically designed slider on the left side of the case. Its components appear to be floating in three dimensions, under a bow-shaped bridge spanning from 11 o’clock to 7 o’clock and behind a ring of faceted, golden hour indices that are cantilevered from the chemin-de-fer minutes track. The golden-finished bridge, indices, and gongs resonate with the tones of the case.
The back dial displays a more sober aesthetic that emphasizes the rectilinear design of the Reverso case while still offering a glimpse into the watch’s heart. The mainplate that makes up the base of the dial has a vertical côtes de Genève motif extending over its entire expanse and serves as a metallic, silver-toned base for the golden hands and hour markers. Blued screws provide an additional, subtle contrast.
The manually wound manufacture Caliber 944 incorporates several technical advances developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre at its atelier in Le Sentier, in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux, including the patented trebuchet hammers, a silent regulator, and next-generation gongs. It drives two simultaneous time displays, on the front and back dials, and stores a power reserve of 35 hours. As befitting such an exceptional timepiece, its availability will be highly limited: just 10 pieces, priced upon request.