As Swiss watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates the 90th anniversary of its legendary Reverso watch, it sets new world records with its four-faced Reverso Hybris Mechanica Caliber 185 Quadriptyque watch unveiled today at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2021. Six years in the research and development stages, the $1.35 million timepiece is the perfect showcase to display the expertise of the Manufacture. The new movement houses 11 different complications, boasts 12 patents and is the most complicated Reverso watch the brand has ever built.
The Reverso has a rich history dating back to 1931, when the brand answered a request from India for a watch that could be worn during polo matches without damage. Jaeger-LeCoultre created a cradle that would hold the watch, which could be slid out of its cradle, reversed and slid back in – displaying a metal reverse side and protecting the watch dial. The Reverso became an immediate hit, not just with polo players and men, but also with women. In the first decade alone, the watch quickly became an icon and has been reinvented decade after decade. There was even a three-sided version, Triptyque, introduced in 2006.
The newest Reverso Quadriptyque is the world’s first wristwatch with four different display faces thanks to a double-faced case and a double-faced cradle. The highly complicated Caliber 185 (made entirely in house) incorporates a tourbillon escapement (to compensate for errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity on the watch), a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater and a complex celestial and astronomical system that offers three lunar displays (including the synodic cycle, draconic cycle and anomalistic cycle) on the interior face in the cradle that can predict supermoons and eclipses. Never before have these three lunar cycles been presented together on a wristwatch. It was a challenging feat that required 12 patents.
“Watchmaking is all about respecting and using the past, focusing on the present and thinking about the future,” said Catherine Renier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre during a presentation of the watch. “For this watch, the first challenge was to make all the complications we wanted in terms of sound, celestial, precision and craftsmanship, so we could demonstrate all of the expertise of the manufacture. Then we opted to make it as thin as possible by using the cradles as well as the dials.”
The complicated Caliber 185 that powers this watch consists of 800 individual components that take about six months to assemble. While each of the individual complications within this watch are complex enough already in and of themselves, combining them inside a rectangular shape and executing the demands of the brand when it came to showcasing craftsmanship required incredible technical expertise and resulted in some unusual nuances. For instance, the perpetual calendar indications on this watch are all instantaneous, changing exactly at the stroke of midnight. At that moment in time, the watch must be completely closed and inside the cradle because a special mechanical system proprietary to Jaeger-LeCoultre engages and ensures that everything turns at once.
Because the watch has so many different settings, it could be a nightmare to reset for anyone who puts it down for too long and loses power reserve. But the masters at Jaeger-LeCoultre have already considered that and created a presentation box with a built-in mechanism drawer that automatically syncs the watch and sets the calendar and astronomical displays for the wearer. The system consists of a two-position crown that sets the number of days elapsed since it was worn and then in the second positions it brings all of the additional watch data up to speed.
Other innovations include a new system of date displays and disks that was required to be able to fit the grand date at 5:00 instead of 6:00 because the flying tourbillon escapement occupies the 7:00 position on the dial and the grand date would be too big to fit at 6:00. Another key element in this watch is its chiming functions. Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of just a handful of brands that have been making repeaters and sonneries for almost two centuries. In fact, with more than 200 chiming watch calibers under its proverbial belt. The lever to activate the melody of the Quadriptyqe is just above the crown, and it releases sound using three different combinations of low and high notes. It chimes the hours, the quarter hours and the minutes past the quarter hours.
As the watch chimes the time it also offers the wearer a beautifully orchestrated dance of springs, hammers and gongs. This minute repeater, though, boasts crystal gongs that attach directly to the sapphire crystal for optimum acoustics. The system also offers a seamless chime with no pauses between the sounds thanks to an inversion of certain steps in the mechanical process. The minute repeater holds several patents for the trigger, the crystal gongs, the shape and length of the gongs, the suppression of gaps in the sound, the quarter mechanism, and the Trebuchet hammers.
Other of the watch’s 12 patents, include one for the new grade date, the new moon cycles, the setting security system, the cradle displays and the new deployant buckle. Indeed, the list of firsts in this mechanical manually wound watch goes on and on. In brief, though, a tour from dial-to-dial reveals that the first face showcases the hour, minute, tourbillon, instantaneous perpetual calendar, grade date, day, month, leap year and night and day indicator. The second dial offers a jumping digital hour display, minutes, and minute repeater. The third face shows the moon phases in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the draconic lunar cycle (to show the height of the moon) and the anomalistic lunar cycle., month and year. the fourth face shows the moon phases in the Southern hemisphere.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Caliber 185 Quadriptyque is being built in an extremely limited edition of just 10 pieces.