To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the company’s most iconic model, which was born in 1931 as a fairly simple watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre is, for Watches & Wonders 2021, announcing the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque (Calibre 185 for brevity), an uber-complication limited to ten pieces in 18k white gold. The Calibre 185 is the world’s first four-faced watch, and simultaneously the most complicated Reverso ever manufactured, comprising 11 complications, including a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and indications of the synodic, draconic, and anomalistic cycles. And the list goes on…
The Complicated Reverso over the years
The history of the complicated Reverso has its roots in 1991, in the 500-piece limited edition Soixantième that commemorated the Reverso’s 60th anniversary. The Soixantième brought with it a larger case size known as the grande taille and was, more importantly, the very first Reverso to be outfitted with complications. Five more complicated Reversos followed: Reverso Tourbillon, Reverso Répétition Minutes, Reverso Chronographe Rétrograde, Reverso Géographique, and the Reverso Quantième Perpétuel. This series of watches was far more than just a claim to bragging rights – it laid the groundwork for the manufacture to rediscover high complications and to re-engineer them to fit the small confines of the rectangular Reverso case. The first Duoface models followed in the early 2000s, then came the models housing variations of the legendary twin-barrel Septantième movement. The complicated Reverso reached its zenith in 2006 with the release of the Reverso Grande Complication à Triptyque, an astronomical, three-faced Reverso model limited to 75 pieces in platinum.
The new Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185
The case of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 manages to retain wearable proportions despite the complications and the reversible case; it measures 51.2mm in length, 31mm in width, and 15.15mm in thickness. Despite its multi-part reversible case and chassis, the Calibre 185 retains a water-resistance of 30 metres. The Calibre 185 builds on the innovative solution that was debuted in the Triptyque – at midnight, a pin extends out of the main case movement to actuate a pusher in the case chassis – thus advancing all the indications across the watch’s four faces.
The first face of the Calibre 185 displays civil time and the indications of the instantaneous perpetual calendar, including day and month apertures at 12 o’clock and the double-digit date at 5 o’clock. All indications of the perpetual calendar jump at midnight – hence the “instantaneous” moniker. The leap year indicator is discreetly tucked away in the periphery of the dial at what would traditionally be 1 o’clock. At 7 o’clock, in a large aperture that extends onto the gadroons on the lower portion of the case, is the one-minute flying tourbillon that doubles as the running seconds indicator. The entire dial is cut on a rose lathe in a hobnail or Clou de Paris pattern, then galvanized a metallic silver colour. The dial has also been partially skeletonised to reveal the day, month, and date wheels. In typical Reverso fashion, the minutes and hours on the primary face are indicated with sword-shaped blued steel hands on a rectangular, chemin-de-fer or railway track.
The second face, also cut with a Clou de Paris guilloché pattern, has been more thoroughly skeletonised to reveal the minute repeater mechanism (actuated using the trigger on the case flank), including the centrifugal governor at 9 o’clock and the racks of the chiming mechanism between 5 and 7 o’clock. Civil time is again displayed on this face, this time in an unorthodox fashion: digital jump-hours are displayed superimposed on a white minutes track, around which a smoked sapphire disk with a red pointer rotates to display the minutes. Spanning the width of the movement is an entirely mirror-polished bridge supporting the minute repeater mechanism, below which the trebuchet hammers and gongs of the chiming mechanism are visible. The minute repeater features several JLC proprietary technologies: the gongs are attached directly to the crystal itself, first seen in the Master Minute Repeater Antoine LeCoultre from 2005, which results in a clearer and louder chime. Debuting in the Calibre 185 is a novel system that eliminates the pauses traditionally heard between the groups of chimes of a minute repeater, and especially prominent in the cases when no quarters are chimed (such as at 12:09, for example, when 12 low-tone hour chimes are followed by nine high-tone minute chimes).
The third face is displayed on the inner face of the Reverso case chassis. For the first time in horological history, the synodic, draconic, and anomalistic cycles are displayed in a single watch. The aperture at 12 o’clock shows a laser-engraved moon that is progressively revealed and covered, corresponding to the synodic cycle as seen from the Northern hemisphere. The display on the left side of the lower half of the dial shows the draconic cycle, which indicates the intersection of the orbit of the Moon with that of the Earth around the Sun. Should the counter of the Moon and the Sun be in horizontal alignment, the Moon, Earth, and the Sun are all on the same plane. Additionally, should the Moon either be in the new or full moon phase during this alignment, an eclipse event occurs on Earth. To the right of the draconic cycle, a representation of the Moon traces an elliptical orbit around an enamelled hemispherical representation of the Earth. This display shows the anomalistic cycle or the cycle of the varying distances between the Earth and the Moon. When the Moon is in its full phase near its perigee, at its closest to the Earth, the event known as a supermoon occurs.
The fourth face, the “caseback” of the Calibre 185, displays the age of the Moon as seen from the Southern hemisphere.
The Calibre 185 is delivered with a presentation box with a built-in mechanism that allows the owner to correct all of the calendar and astronomical displays of the watch after it has fallen behind a couple of days. The box itself is equipped with a two-setting crown – the watch is set in a frame within the box, the crown on the box is used to set the number of days that have elapsed since the watch was last worn, and then the crown is pulled to the second position, allowing for rapid adjustment of all both the calendar and astronomical complications.
Is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque a practical, wear-it-everyday-and-bang-it-up watch? Absolutely not. The Calibre 185 plays in the rarified world of uber-watches that transcend traditional grand complications and, for the very few, lucky individuals who will get the chance to own and experience this piece, the Jaeger-LeCoultre is the ultimate expression of the Reverso’s legacy.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 is limited to 10 pieces. Price on request. More details at jaeger-lecoultre.com.