Created by Jacques-David LeCoultre in 1931, the Reverso was initially conceived to withstand the harsh beating a watch would endure during a game of polo. With the need for the watch to be more durable, the Reverso's genius reveals itself through its eponymous design – a reversible case. With its case able to be turned around on itself, the Reverso's dial can be protected while playing sports and returned to its natural position with a quick flick and slide. Thanks to its iconic heritage, the Reverso has evolved into one of Jaeger LeCoultre's most important design vehicles to date, with a healthy number of contemporary variations to suit the palate of modern enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
Presented today is a rare variant of the Reverso – the Reverso Soixantième 60th Anniversary Ref. 270.2.64 in 18-carat rose gold. Released in 1991 with a worldwide production limited to 500 units, this Reverso has an aesthetic that is quite unlike any Reversos I’ve seen and handled before.
Before we dive into what makes the Soixantième so special, I believe it is important for us to preface this: At the time when the Soixantième was released, Jaeger LeCoultre had just gone through a turbulent period known as the quartz crisis. The visionary Günter Blümlein, who oversaw Jaeger LeCoultre's operations at the time, recognized the Maison's exceptional technical potential stemming from its rich history as an in-house movement maker. This realization later became pivotal in the brand's resurgence during the post-quartz crisis era. The Soixantième was subsequently unveiled as part of a series of six limited edition Reverso models launched between 1991 and 2000 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the iconic Reverso. These milestones contributed significantly to solidifying Jaeger LeCoultre's esteemed position within the industry as we know it today.
Starting with the Soixantième’s 18-carat rose gold ‘Grande Taille’ style case, it measures a compact 42mm x 26mm in size and with a slim case profile of only 9.5mm. Like many Reverso models, the case is polished entirely and reveals a beautiful perlage and its hallmarks on the inner chassis. As for the front dial, it is crafted from galvanized silver and showcases a set of blued steel hands, a contrasting central date pointer just beneath it, as well as a guilloche pattern in the centre portion. An overlapping power reserve indicator can also be found between the 10 and 12 o’clock positions.
Upon flipping the dial onto its opposite side, you will quickly realize that the business end of the Soixantième is just as magnificent as the front. Here, you'll be treated to a stunning visual of the 23-jewelled, manual-winding, in-house Cal. 824, with its plates and bridges all crafted entirely out of 14-carat rose gold. What's intriguing about this movement is that with the Reverso Soixantième serving as the initial step towards a fresh chapter (in the 1990s) for the Reverso line – which regained its prominence as Jaeger LeCoultre's defining model – an entirely new calibre had to be devised. The outcome? The Cal. 824, purpose made to fit this specific Reverso as a perfectly fitting rectangular in-house movement. I have strong reservations that brands today would be willing to invest in such a venture due to its cost implications. While the time-telling side of this Reverso is the side that should obviously face you while on the wrist, I found myself frequently flipping to the other side to appreciate the full view of the stunning movement. Undoubtedly, it's the most captivating aspect of this timepiece.
Without a doubt, I must express that the Soixantième embodies the pinnacle of Jaeger LeCoultre’s watchmaking excellence and the resurgence of the Reverso lineage. For the true connoisseur, the Soixantième Ref. 270.2.64 is a Reverso you simply cannot overlook.