Miniature works of art… Since its creation in 1833 Jaeger-LeCoultre has continually distinguished itself in the refined world of fine watchmaking. In fact, it is one of the few or probably the only Manufacture that is equipped to produce every single one of its timepiece components under its own roof.
With the permanence of excellence and the refusal to accept boundaries paired with exquisite skills of their artistic & creative team, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Maison has introduced four sparkling new Reverso One models at Watches & Wonders 2021. Truly a canvas for artistic expression, these breathtaking reverso one’s are a testament of the highly skilled artisans of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares® (Rare Handcrafts™) who seem to have unleashed their skills from enamelling to engraving and gem-setting.
The double-sided case of the Reverso is certainly a beautiful canvas and this year, taking inspiration from the decorative jewels worn in the 1920’s, Jaeger-LeCoultre team has created four exceptional models that celebrate the poetry of flowers, with two in white gold and two in pink gold each showcasing rare handcrafts in different combinations.
While that gorgeous dial with the mother-of-pearl glow and the gold brackets on the four sides already gives you an impression of lightness and elegance, it’s the flip side that will truly leave you enamoured with artistically executed visuals of lilies and arums. Although jewellery watches aren’t really a personal preference, I couldn’t help but burst into a smile when I saw these beauties blossom.
Now in order to achieve the results that we see here the artisans at Jaeger-LeCoultre have used various techniques but in a strict order. A carefully orchestrated process that involved engraving first, then enamelling and finally gem-setting.
Not all jewellery watches are engraved but if you pair the two techniques, the results are simply spectacular, well as you can see here. The art of engraving could involve various aspects. There is the classic method where the gravers are used to hollow the metal and remove the required parts. Then there is the raised engraving technique where you press done with a hammer or hollow the material around before engraving and chasing them. Whatever the technique engraving is truly an exceptional art. The engraver first sketches the motif which is then reduced in size to fit on a canvas as small as a wrist watch and then reproduces the motif.
For the white lilies version of the Reverso One, Jaeger-LeCoultre has relief engraved the blank gold case-back – a technique by which the background metal is sculpted away, leaving only the raised outlines of the floral design. To carefully replicate the texture and fine details of the lily petals, each of the blooms is entirely hand-engraved
If you thought engraving was complex, imagine painting on a surface as small as a wrist watch, an art only a few people are skilled to execute. When talking of enamelling one cannot help but mention the work, patience and exquisite craftsmanship of master enamelers Anita Porche & Suzanne Rohr. While Anita Porche has garnered various awards for her work in enamelling and miniature painting for numerous prestigious watch brands, Suzanne Rohr has been exclusively associated with Patek Philippe since 1967.
As mentioned before, Jaeger-LeCoultre has their own in-house enamel artists who have literally given life these stunning new Reverso One’s with a technique that requires multiple coats of enamel pigment to add richness, nuance and visual depth. After each coat is applied, the enamel must be fired to set the colour – an exacting process that takes many days. To complete the piece, the background is decorated with lacquer or mother-of-pearl, or is set with diamonds – according to the model.
For the white liles version, contrasting with the cool tones of the white gold, the leaves are enamelled in a rich blue and the stamens in light blue. To create the sky-blue background, tissue-fine wafers of mother-of-pearl are cut to the exact shape then laid in place.
To complement the warm tones of the pink gold case of the Pink Arums version, the black lacquered background is adorned with blooms that are enamelled in graduated shades of pink, giving quite a dramatic contrast.
Two fully diamond-set models also feature Arums: Purple Arums (on pink gold) symbolise charm and passion, and Blue Arums (on white gold) the flowers and leaves are all enamelled, and the entire background is snow-set with diamonds.
Let’s just set the record straight here. The high costs of high jewellery watches is not just attributed to the precious metals and stones on it but primarily from the spacial skills that are necessary to execute them. The intricate embellishments made up of luminous gemstones intricately layered out on shimmering mother-of-pearl dials is truly a special skill. A gamut of specialist are required for the production of these tiny masterpieces and it is almost impossible for most Manufactures to produce and execute everything on their own premise.
Once again, Jaeger-LeCoultre counts on in-house expertise for the gem-setting too. Grain-set diamonds embellish the entire case of the white lilies and pink arums Reverso One’s, wrapping seamlessly from front to back, while the winding crown is adorned with a reverse-set diamond. For the Pink Arum the foliage too is fully set with diamonds.
For the two fully diamond-set models the entire background is snow-set with diamonds – an exacting technique that requires approximately one hour to set just five or six stones. Altogether, the gem-setting on these pieces requires a total of 95 hours. The floral design wraps seamlessly around the case-sides, from the back to the bezel, involving curves and angles that add a high degree of complexity to the artisans’ work.
Set in the elongated Reverso One case,complemented by shiny alligator straps in vivid colours, these new timepieces are not just an expression of feminine elegance. Given the Maison’s mastery of technical watchmaking, there has been no compromise on the movement. The Reverso One Precious Flowers introduces the hand-wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 846, a shaped movement developed especially for the Reverso.
To be made in an edition of just 10 pieces of each model, every one of these miniature works of art is subtly different – their fine detailing and nuanced colour palettes the product of each artisan’s particular gestures, expressing their passion and personality, as well as their remarkable skill.
The brilliance of a surface evenly set with diamonds like a dial or a curved case is a sheer visual delight. These new exceptional Rerverso One’s truly are a testament of Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre’s horological savoir-faire, artistic craftsmanship and jewellery-making skills. A beautiful tribe to 90 years of the iconic Reverso!