It was in India where the most classic of all sports watches was born more than 90 years ago. Colonial British India was polo crazy with 175 polo clubs operating around the country by the end of the nineteenth century. The wristwatch which had become a necessity and a fashion in the twentieth century was not something that well-to-do polo players could take off just to play their favourite sport.
Therefore, many timepieces suffered broken crystals. A mineral crystal cannot stand up to the travails and tough conditions of a polo match, during which polo ponies can obtain speeds of more than 50 kilometres per hour and the balls and sticks can fly even faster and harder.
During the winter of 1930, a wealthy Swiss businessman and watch trader César de Trey was attending a thrilling polo match of British army officers at Lucknow Cantonment Polo ground. After the game was over, a British army officer complained about his watch glass being broken during the match and jokingly asked César de Trey to conceive a classic and yet elegant timepiece that would be suitable for formal events and strong enough to withstand shocks in polo matches.
By that time there were military trench watches already available as a solution to protect the watch from shocks. In fact, some models came with grills over the glass but none were there to meet the style and performance together, for an English gentleman.
César de Trey, when he came back to Switzerland, discussed the idea with Jacques-David LeCoultre, the then owner of the LeCoultre manufacture. After deliberations, they decided to work on the sports watch suitable for polo and elegant enough for the evening dinner. LeCoultre appointed the firm Jaeger S.A. for the creation of the reversible case, which in turn contracted the French designer René-Alfred Chauvot, the actual inventor of the unique slide and flip mechanism that was recently patented by him.
The final result was a stylish watch with a dial that could flip, protecting it from shocks and hits and also offered a case back with a steel surface that could be used for personalisation. On March 4, 1931, at the National Industrial Property Institute in Paris, René-Alfred Chauvot officially patents his invention of a “wristwatch which can slide on its base and flip over on itself”. It was composed by three elements; the case structure, the case, the pivots for its rotation and the spheres necessary to lock the case to the structure once rotated. Later that year Cesar De Trey bought the rights from Alfred Chauvot and named the watch “Reverso”. And a distinguished Reverso watch was born.
Jaeger LeCoultre, the Swiss watch brand behind Reverso, today makes it with every style, colour and metal. It is timeless in its face and surrounded by its three emblematic gadroons, the Reverso has been fascinating connoisseurs, both men and women, for the last 90 years with an eye for beauty and elegance. With and without complications and jewels, the Reverso has been enchanting both men and women since its creation. An androgynous style with Art Deco design, that is equally comfortable with its femininity in jewelled models as it is with its masculinity by pronounced complexities and aesthetics, Reverso is an unrivalled iconic watch.
It is a revelation in itself by turning its case the watch reveals, on single-sided models, another face which, like a blank page, invites your personal touch and imagination. An engraving, a setting, enamelling, and it becomes your personal statement. It can be so personal, so intimate and private that you can let your imagination run wild and celebrate a part of yourself for posterity.
If we discuss the movements of Reverso, the original Reverso was hand-wound. Most of the models of the Reverso watches are still hand-wound. That means you have to twist the crown to activate the movement, and while it may seem odd at first, it means you don’t need batteries. It’s the strangely very satisfying thing for the owner to set watch and hand-wind it. There are automatic movement Reverso also, which is wound by the movement of your hands and quartz movement watches that are sleek and lightweight and need a battery to function. These are normally more often used in ladies models.
Other popular features for the Reverso include the Duetto or the duo-face. Since most people don’t need to protect the watch dial from sports-related activities, they don’t need to protect their watch crystal. You can have a Reverso with a different face on each side, which is as good as having two watches because you can have the same watch you can travel with, and have a black face and a white face or blue or other different colours and just switch it around. It’s an interesting feature. Again, they come in various sizes and colours, and complications. You can get a Reverso with a calendar date, moon phase, perpetual calendar or even a Tourbillion. There is always a Reverso made for everyone that suits his or her requirements.