2021 is the evidently the year of the Reverso. We’ve seen the beautiful floral interpretations of the Reverso one, that gorgeous display of digital hours enhanced by a celestial decor, the Tribute Nonantième
and of course the high-complication of Watches & Wonders 2021, the Quadriptyque. To further commemorate this iconic timepiece and to celebrates their ongoing cultural exchange between Asia and Europe, Jaeger Le-Coultre has introduced an exquisite new Reverso Tribute Enamel timepiece.
The oldest and most delicate of the decorative arts no longer hold any secrets for this Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux. Enamelling, engraving and gem-setting are a set of virtuoso crafts that it associates at will in its horological and artistic creations. A splendid embodiment of the love of fine details that has always characterised Jaeger-LeCoultre, the art of miniature enamel painting dedicates its absolute beauty to highlighting the watchmaking feats of the Manufacture – one of the rare brands to enhance its wristwatches with the full range of traditional fine watchmaking embellishments.
Embodying La Grande Maison’s creativity and its vision of the world of art and culture, the new timepiece is testament to the talent and skill of the artisans working in the Métiers Rares® (Rare Handcrafts) atelier within the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre.
For this gorgeous new addition to the Reverso family, Jaeger-LeCoultre has brought together European craftsmanship with Japanese art the reverse side of the case celebrates Eastern art with an enamel miniature painting that reproduces a woodblock print of Kirifuri Waterfall made by Katsushika Hokusai in the early 1830s.
Needless to say, the decoration of this timepiece came with it’s challenges. Let’s start with the caseback. Now imagine reproducing an artwork measuring 37 x 24.5 cm, capturing every detail in perfect scale, including the group of tiny human figures at the base of the waterfall onto a surface that is a little more than one-tenth the size of the original . A mammoth task in itself. To express the power and beauty of the water as it cascades 100 metres down the mountainside Hokusai, the enameller had not only to mimic this perfectly but also to create the illusion of the woodblock printing technique, which produces a specific effect entirely different from enamelling. A particular challenge is that multi-coloured prints require the use of multiple woodblocks, with each different colour applied in turn – and there is the added challenge of reproducing the bokashi effect of subtly nuanced and graduated colours as seen in the original. To achieve these illusions, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master enameller had to develop her own technique.
Moving on to dial. To echo the effect of moving water, the dial is decorated with an unusual, wavy guilloché. Executed by hand, the visual effect of the waves is amplified by layers of translucent grand feu enamel in a soft shade of green that exactly matches a detail of the painting on the caseback. Following multiple firings to build up the enamel layers, the final challenge is the faultless application of the indexes (which requires tiny holes to be drilled through the pristine surface of the enamel) and the transfer of the chemin de fer minutes register.
As with all enamelling, the firing process can change colours in unpredictable ways, so for both the back and the front of the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai, many hours of research and experiment were required in order that the dial colour would perfectly match the painting on the reverse, and that the painting would give a faithful rendering of Hokusai’s original colours. In addition to these hours of research, almost five working hours were dedicated to the guillochage alone, followed by eight working hours for the layers of translucent green enamel. More than 70 working hours went into paint the miniature masterpiece on the case back.
We have always been of the opinion, that watches are wearable ‘art’, need we say more!
Case: White gold
Dimensions: 45.5 mm x 27.4 mm x 9.73 mm
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 822, manually wound
Functions: Hours, minutes
Power reserve: 42 hours
Dial: Guilloché and Grand Feu enamel
Case back: Grand Feu enamel miniature painting
Water resistance: 3 bar
Strap: Black alligator
Reference: Q39334T2 – Limited edition of 10 pieces
Approximate price: €80,000