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Jaeger-LeCoultre - “The Reverso made Jaeger-LeCoultre”

Jaeger-LeCoultre “The Reverso made Jaeger-LeCoultre”

The peerless Reverso. For 90 years, it has confounded every prediction about longevity, attractiveness and creativity. A few days ago in Paris, WorldTempus met Stéphane Belmont, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Heritage Director, at a special exhibition to celebrate the timepiece

“We were hoping for 10,000 people over two and a half months. We’ve already seen 9,000 in three weeks.” Marketing can be made to say almost anything – that’s often the point of it – but numbers don’t lie. On 17 November, anyone hoping to enjoy the Reverso exhibition mounted by Jaeger-LeCoultre in the heart of Paris would have had to put up with a certain amount of jostling. Heritage Director Stéphane Belmont couldn’t hide his pleasure at seeing the Reverso back in centre stage. “Let me be very clear: the Reverso helped to create Jaeger-LeCoultre. It enabled the manufacture to anchor its watchmaking vocation, perfect its techniques and its mastery of rare crafts. We grew from being a maker of complications to a genuine manufacture. The Reverso was the watch that created the brand.”

« La Reverso a créé Jaeger-LeCoultre »

Jaeger-LeCoultre Exhibition © Jaeger-LeCoultre

90 years young

That assertion might seem to be overstating the case, but it’s historically accurate, and that’s what the exhibition is designed to show. Laid out over five floors, with a total surface area of almost 900 square metres, the exhibition highlights the incredible modernity of a timepiece that was born perfect, and which has traversed the intervening decades with consistency and coherence, while making it all look ridiculously easy.

90 years ago, Jaeger LeCoultre laid the foundations of the sports watch genre. Coloured dials were already in evidence, 30 years before the fashions of the 60s and 70s (and their rediscovery in the 2020s). The personalisation that can still be a struggle today was the Reverso’s raison d’être. And all the artistic crafts on which the watch industry relies were being employed on the Reverso from the outset.

« La Reverso a créé Jaeger-LeCoultre »

Amelia Earhart's Reverso 1935 © Jaeger-LeCoultre

“We’ve done anniversary exhibitions before,” continues Stéphane Belmont. “In 1991 we celebrated the Grande Taille, thanks to which we were able to develop complications specifically for the Reverso. In 2001 we took a more virtual approach, and it was a complete flop! 20 years ago, the idea of a virtual exhibition was probably a little ahead of its time! In 2011 we opened the Reverso Virtual Museum, which worked very well. But we’re changing direction for this 2021 exhibition. We’re going deeper, combining heritage with fashion trends and new directions, marrying the technical and the aesthetic. The exhibition is the result of almost two years’ work. It will be on the road for more than a year.”

« La Reverso a créé Jaeger-LeCoultre »

Spacetimer © Jaeger-LeCoultre

Long-term outlook

Although the pandemic delayed the start of the Paris exhibition, circumstances eventually conspired to make it coincide with the holiday period – a happy outcome that chimes perfectly with the Reverso spirit. Nevertheless, the exhibition’s future itinerary remains dependent on the public health situation worldwide, beginning with New York, where the journey continues. 

In the immediate term, despite its rather unimaginative title (“Timeless since 1931”), the Parisian event has been a resounding success, amply rewarding the effort that went into this well thought-out, coherent and necessary endeavour. It places watch history in perspective (and the Reverso is an undisputed landmark of watch history), and helps to re-establish the physical link between the brand and its fans. That will no doubt be one of the exhibition’s finest legacies; last week in Paris the majority of visitors (with the exception of official guests) fell into the 25-35 age group. There could be no better proof that the Reverso remains enduringly attractive, endlessly fascinating and – its advancing years notwithstanding – genuinely sexy.

Admission is free, but visitors are advised to book using this link.

« La Reverso a créé Jaeger-LeCoultre »

Jaeger-LeCoultre Exhibition © Jaeger-LeCoultre

 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre: HOME OF FINE WATCHMAKING SINCE 1833. Located in the serene setting of the Vallée de Joux, our Maison radiates a unique sense of belonging. The soul of La Grande Maison is formed here, inspired by the exceptional landscapes of the Jura Mountains, guided by an unquenchable inner fire. With all crafts under one roof within the Manufacture, watchmakers, engineers, designers and artisans work together to give birth to fine...

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