This $300,000 Watch Adds a Wild, Wearable Twist to a Complicated Icon
Watch brands take anniversaries seriously. For its 85th anniversary of the iconic rectangular Reverso, Jaeger-LeCoultre has gone even bigger than usual with the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon, a dual-sided watch (hence "reverso") with a unique timekeeping mechanism that rotates on two axes.
Forewarning: Things are going to get complicated.
From the front of the platinum case, you get a basic 12-hour time dial up top and a massive gyrotourbillon below. The movement is ornately finished, with sunburst guilloché work on the mainplate to draw your eyes to the mechanism. The rectangular case has been slightly modified from past Reverso models to exhibit a little more visual tension with arched lugs and an architectural style, although the signature stripes remain at top and bottom, as does the flipping mechanism—slide the case out to the right to turn it over to see the other side.
The back has a more skeletonized second dial, this time just a thin ring letting you see more of the movement underneath. Around it, though, you'll also find a 24-hour day/night indicator and a small seconds hand powered by the tourbillon. The designers nailed the trick of providing both more information and more space for admiring the mechanics. Bravo.
The movement is the totally in-house Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 179, developed specifically for this watch. The tourbillon is a flying tourbillon (meaning it's anchored only on the bottom, giving you a better view), and it's twice as nice with two nested cages that let it spin on two axes at once. The outer case makes one rotation per minute, while the inner cage takes only 12.6 seconds to make a revolution. And, since that obviously isn't enough—85th anniversary, people—the hairspring at the center of the tourbillon is shaped like a hemisphere instead of being flat. That last bit doesn't really provide any measurable timekeeping benefits, but it's incredible to watch.
This is far from the most complicated Reverso (the Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 comes to mind), but it's definitely the most wearable. The last Reverso Gyrotoubrillon measured 55.4 mm x 36 mm x 16 mm, while this watch comes in at a relatively svelte 51.2 mm x 31 mm x 12.4 mm. That's nearing 40 percent less volume, and the combination of the reduced size and the more arched case makes the watch extremely comfortable. Sure, it's far from a subtle watch, but it's a grand complication you might actually want to wear. How refreshing.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon is limited to 75 pieces in platinum (which is actually quite a few for a watch of this complication level), priced at 270,000 euros ($302,000).