Of all the watches I own, in terms of simple elegance, my Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Grand Taille takes the grand prize. It was a Christmas gift from my wife.
I had lusted over the Jaeger Reverso for a number of years, but was on the fence for my next watch purchase between a Reverso or a PaneraiLuminor 1950 GMT.
I had finally decided on the Reverso, and was actively pondering which Reverso model I was going to purchase when my wife surprised me with it. Its presence under the Christmas Tree was completely unexpected.
My wife’s choice was a stainless steel GT with only one complication, a small inside dial for seconds. The strap is light brown color alligator leather with a stainless steel metal clasp assembly. I also have a second alligator strap in black, should I want to wear it with formal eveningwear. It’s tastefully understated, and an inconspicuously branded luxury good that is probably only recognized by other watch aficionados.
For a watch enthusiast, the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso requires no introduction. The art deco design still shines as brightly today as when it first made its worldwide splash with the café society (the café society was the precursor to what later became known as the jet set).
The watch came to be in 1931, and was supposedly designed for British military officers who played polo in British Colonial India. The polo players kept breaking their watch crystals during play, and the Reverso solved the problem by enabling them to “swivel” the crystal face into a reverse position- exposing only the metal back. Hence the name, "Reverso."
Originally the back was a plain metal surface, but with time, Jaeger LeCoultre began decorating the backs of Reverso with everything from the watch owner’s initials to elaborate designs infused with diamonds, enamel, and other creative resources. One model, the Reverso Duo, has a second watch on the back that can be used like a GMT for a second time zone.
Today, the Reverso is still considered Jaeger LeCoultre signature watch and is available in multiple models with a large variety of complications, ranging in size from the small classic size measuring only (L x W) 38.5 x 23.1mm, to the new large Squadra models measuring 50.5 x 34.9mm.
One Caveat- Size Matters
Having sang its praises; the caveat with the Reverso is its size. For many men the original classic size feels too small, at only 38.5mm by 23.1mm. Aware of this, and because most men today are used to larger watches, Jaeger LeCoultre introduced the much larger “Squadra” Reverso that measures 50.5mm length and 34.9mm width.
Size then, not the complications, was my main concern when choosing my Reverso. A couple of online bulleting board comments from dissatisfied purchasers had stuck with me.
One dissatisfied purchaser stated he had had to trade in his classic sized Reverso for a Squadra Reverso, at a significant monetary loss, because he simply could not get used to the small size. With the classic, he had always felt like he was wearing a ladies watch. (If you want to see how small it looks on a man’s wrist, Google photos of Mad Men’s Don Draper for the first season.)
A second dissatisfied purchaser also made a size comment. He complained his Reverso was too long in length, and uncomfortable. What he meant was that because the Reverso pivots, the watch back case is flat and it does not curve to the wrist upon its length like some square watches do. As a result the purchaser complained that the watch was always slightly uncomfortable on his wrist and as a result he didn’t wear it as often. I believe the model he was referring to was the Ultra Thin model.
Lastly, I had personal reservations against a Squadra Reverso because (A), I felt the Squadra Reverso lacked the elegance of a more traditional Reverso, and (B), I thought the Squadra would be too big for my wrist.
For me, my wife’s gift of a Reverso Grand Taille (GT) was the perfect “Goldilocks” size for my wrist. At 42.2mm Length and 26mm Width, it’s both comfortable and elegant, and fits well underneath my shirt cuff. It’s the opposite of today’s monster sized overstated watches. At the same time, I don’t feel I’m wearing a woman’s watch. I think my wife made a great selection with my Grand Taille.
If you want to get an idea of how it looks on a man’s wrist, catch the 1999 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair.” In it, Pierce Brosnan wears a Reverso Duo, which is the exact same size as the Reverso GT.
One last caution, in the online watch review by “The Talking Hands,” one of the online reviewers warned, “They should warn you that these things are made of butter.” He was observing that just as the watch is extremely beautiful, it is also extremely vulnerable to scratching. I have found that to be true even of my stainless steel model. You do have to be mindful while wearing it.
Below are a couple of YouTube Links on the Reverso. One is the Reverso review by the “Talking Hands,” the other is a simple demonstration of the pivot action of a Reverso GT.