Watches | July 9, 2021 5:01 am

Jaeger LeCoultre Celebrates 90 Years of the Reverso With Intricate Caseback Art

The Reverso Tribute Enamel features a faithful rendering of a work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai
Jaeger-LeCoultre

While Jaeger LeCoultre often utilizes their famed Reverso range to flex their horological chops by fitting breathtakingly complicated movements into the iconic and extremely thin pivoting case, the original Reverso design was a bit more utilitarian. That is, if the word utilitarian can ever truly apply to the polo-playing British military officers the watch was originally designed for. They wanted a handsome Swiss timepiece that could also be protected from the strike of a wayward mallet, hence the reversible case, which allows it to be worn with the dial pressed up against the wrist, leaving the caseback exposed. 

Over the years, owners have adorned that caseback with all sorts of custom embellishments to make it their own — from monograms and family crests to jewels or intricate engravings to commemorate special occasions. And to commemorate the special occasion that is the 90th anniversary of the Reverso, Jaeger LeCoultre themselves have revealed a limited edition version that is quite literally a work of art. the Reverso Tribute Enamel: Hokusai ‘Kirifuri Waterfall.”

For the “Reverso Tribute Enamel: Hokusai Kirifuri Waterfall,” the craftsmen in the Metiers Rares (Rare Handcrafts) department have faithfully replicated in miniature enamel a woodblock print by renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai in exquisite detail. The illustration depicted is Kirifuri Waterfall, from a series of woodblock prints he made in the early 1830’s after visiting several waterfalls around the island of Honshu, and it’s meant to celebrate the centuries-old tradition of cultural exchange between the East and West. 

Using enamel to replicate the intricacies of Hokusai’s prints would be an impressive feat in any scenario, but the fact that Jaeger LeCoultre’s artisans were able to perfectly render it in 1/10th the scale of the original artwork is truly a testament to their talent. For the dial, a unique wavy guilloche pattern was hand-applied using a centuries-old lathe, finished in multiple layers of translucent grand feu enamel in a soft green to painstakingly match the colors found in the caseback.

While every Reverso is a masterpiece, these watches, rendered in white gold, take more than 80 hours of precision work for the decoration alone and will be available in a limited run of just ten pieces, making them even more special than usual.