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A Watch of Wonders: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième

A Watch of Wonders: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième

7. October 2021

Some watches simply command respect. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième is one such watch. The horology house’s Reverso model is always sleek, suave, and attractive. This unconventional piece, however, takes high watchmaking to a whole new level.

Area of expertise: The Reverso and complications

Jaeger-LeCoultre is no stranger to creating complicated Reverso watches. The first one to appear, back in 1991, was the Reverso Soixantième. This name, of course, refers to 60 years since the introduction of the Reverso. Prior to its creation, the watch manufacture had steered clear of complications for the Reverso line. As the quartz crisis finally came to an end, however, the Reverso Soixantième served to prove the watchmaker’s haute horologe abilities, showcasing a date pointer, small seconds, an eight-day power reserve, plus a power reserve indicator to go with it.

Furthermore, the limited edition of 500 pieces opened a whole new world of horological possibilities. Coming in a new, larger “Grand Taille” case measuring 42 mm x 26 mm x 9 mm, it signalled another significant change from the then-typical Reverso dimensions of 38 mm x 23 mm. It also left the almost two-centuries old watchmaker with more space for future experimentation. Another change in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first complicated Reverso was the inclusion of an open caseback, revealing the manual-winding calibre 824 in all of its glory.

The Soixantième marked the start of a complicated watchmaking revolution for the Reverso. Following in its footsteps came the manufacture’s first ever tourbillon wristwatch, the Reverso Tourbillon (1993) and the Reverso Répétition Minutes (marking the first time Jaeger-LeCoultre had miniaturised a minute repeater for a wristwatch), which was powered by the world’s first rectangular minute repeater movement.

In 1996, Jaeger-LeCoultre brought out the Reverso Chronographe Rétrograde, with its chronograph counters masterfully arranged to fit within a rectangular frame. This was followed in 1998 by the dual timezone Reverso Géographique, as well as the Reverso Quantième Perpétuel in 2000.

Next in line: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième

Ten years after the Soixantième had catalysed the rise of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s complicated Reverso watches, the horology house introduced the Reverso Septantième (70th). Interestingly, there was no Quatre-vingtième (80th) complicated model, as Jaeger-LeCoultre instead opted for the release of the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931. However, the brand returned this year with not only several highly attractive new Reverso models, but also an anniversary complicated Reverso: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième (90th). This watch (Ref. Q711252J), which brings something entirely new to the complicated Reverso table, is a limited edition of only 190 pieces.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième – Ref. Q711252J

Ref. Q711252J: Facts and figures

Housed in a pink-gold case with the model’s signature Art Deco gadroons and measuring 49.4 x 29.9 x 11.72 mm, the Reverso Tribute Nonantième (Ref. Q711252J) comes on a smart black alligator leather strap. While the front dial displays hours, minutes, small seconds, Grande Date, and moonphase, the reverse features a digital semi-jumping hour, minutes on a disc, plus a night-day indication. Powering the creation is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manual winding calibre 826 with a power reserve of 42 hours.

The front dial

The beauty, however, lies in the details. The front dial of the Ref. Q711252J is by far more “typical” for the Reverso model. It features a silvered, sunray-brushed dial which already gives the watch its aethereal, cosmic vibe. The time is indicated with the help of applied golden indexes and elegant Dauphine hands. Meanwhile, on the lower half of the dial, things get slightly more complicated (in the horological sense at least). A moonphase display lies within the circle formed by the small seconds counter. Beneath 12 o’clock is a large date display, framed by an applied filet of pink gold that echoes the rectangular shape of the dial and case.

The reverse dial

It is the reverse dial, however that makes clear that this complicated Reverso is something entirely different to its predecessors. Traditionally, the Reverso caseback was kept blank in order to leave space for engravings (and, of course, to protect the front dial). While this has changed over the years, no reverse caseback nor dial has looked anything like the Reverso Tribute Nonantième. The caseback-dial hybrid features two round apertures, with gadroons encircling them.

The complication display within the two apertures recall Jaeger-LeCoultre’s digital wristwatch displays from the 1930s. The small upper window displays a semi-jumping digital hour indication. Meanwhile, the second, larger window displays minutes on a rotating disc, part of which hides under a lacquered, vivid blue three-quarter plate. A sprinkling of tiny golden stars decorates the plate, recreating a miniature night sky.

Furthermore, a small circle in the centre features an exquisite applied golden sun and moon. The sun and moon pass above a horizon in order to indicate night and day to the wearer. Finally, below this horizon, the brand’s logo is set in a semi-circle with a sunray-pattern background. The exquisite plate was crafted in the manufacture’s special Atelier des Métiers Rares. This workshop is an exclusive space, which Jaeger-LeCoultre dedicated to special ornamental crafts back in 2016.

An all-new movement

Over its 90-year run, the Reverso has housed over 90 different calibres. This new watch, the Reverso Tribute Nonantième, comes with its own brand new movement. This is no surprise; every complicated Reverso receives its very own novel calibre. The new movement is the manual winding calibre 826. It comprises of 230 components, has a power reserve of 42 hours, and beats at a frequency of 3 Hz (21,600 vph). Unlike the Reverso Soixantième, the Ref. Q711252J is of course without an open caseback and therefore the new movement is not visible. This is, however, a small price to pay given what lies in its place.

The manual winding Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 826

Ref. Q711252J: On the wrist

On the wrist, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième not only looks, but also feels elegant on the wrist. Thanks to the flat case, its otherwise more weighty case (by Reverso standards) still feels light and wearable. While the front dial exudes a distinguished and dignified feel fit for a historic model like the Reverso, the unusual reverse dial takes your thoughts to another place.

While this might sounds grandiose, it is the reverse dial that demonstrates to any Jaeger-LeCoultre fan just how distinguished and sensitive to its own DNA the brand really is. Additionally, despite the complications and intricate, unexpected design, this very special Reverso still ultimately feels practical, multifunctional, and highly functional.

The Verdict

With the Nonantième, the aim of Jaeger-LeCoultre was to create a “completely new visual expression to an alliance of several classical complications”. It has undoubtedly achieved this goal. Moreover, I think most horology enthusiasts would come to the same conclusion in evaluating the Reverso Tribute Nonantième: it is exquisite. As stated earlier, some watches simply command respect and this mesmerising cosmological creation is one of them. Jaeger-LeCoultre has flawlessly created something novel, yet it fits seamlessly into the Reverso collection. The long-established Reverso is undoubtedly an icon of early 20th century design. With this 90th anniversary edition, the horology house embraces its status as such. The Reverso Tribute Nonantième is not aiming to be a contemporary interpretation, but rather keeps things beautifully classic. This serves only to highlight the incredible feats of traditional watchmaking evident in this timepiece– making it anything but conventional.

An Artistic Interpretation

Horological enthusiasts aren’t the only ones to be interested in the watch. Brooklyn-based artist Michael Murphy is known for his so-called “Perpetual art” style. His “Perpetual art” emphasises the viewer’s perception, as “illusions of images rendered in three dimensional space”. Essentially, the viewer must move around the art and view it from every single angle in order to appreciate it. He is currently displaying his work Spacetime, following a commission by Jaeger-LeCoultre.

SpaceTime by Michael Murphy | Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Nonantième

Murphy’s response to the time-honoured Reverso Tribute Nonantième explores “the relationship between the three physical dimensions of space, and the fourth dimension of time”. He explains: “My Reverso design explodes into an array of parts that tell a story about the watch and how it works. I dissected it into all of its working components and composed them in a way that creates two different photographic illusions, one renders the front of the watch and one the reverse.” First on display in Shanghai, the art installation is now to make its way around the world.


BRAND Jaeger-LeCoultre
MODEL Reverso Tribute Nonantième
DIMENSIONS Length: 49.4
Width:  29.9 mm
Height: 11.72 mm
DIAL Front dial: silvered, sunray-brushed
Reverse dial: pink-gold caseback with two round apertures in figure of eight
STRAP/BRACELET Black alligator leather
MOVEMENT Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 826
MOVEMENT TYPE Manual winding
FREQUENCY 3 Hz (21,600 vph)
FUNCTIONS Front display: Hours, minutes, small seconds, Grande Date, moonphase
Back display: Digital semi-jumping hour, minutes on a disc, night-day indication
PRICE EUR 38,700 – limited to 190 pieces