Jaeger-LeCoultre Art Deco Guide (Pt.1)

Cultural Perspectives • 27 Jun 2019

Jaeger-LeCoultre Art Deco Guide (Pt.1)

by Meghan Dansie


The cat’s meow, the caterpillar’s kimono, the ant’s pants. If only Jazz Age slang were as enduring as Art Deco architecture. Luckily enough for us watch geeks, Art Deco lives on through one of the most enduring watch collections, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.

The Tiger’s Spots

The Art Deco Movement – also known as Style Moderne – saw major influence in the decorative arts and architecture of the1920s and 1930s. Particularly prominent in Western Europe and the United States, the style saw its first exhibition at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Combining fine craftsmanship with modernist features and luxurious materials, the Art Deco Movement defined itself through glamour, joie de vivre, and faith in the social and technological progress of the Modern Age.

It is a similar spirit that launched Jaeger-LeCoultre’s renowned Reverso Collection.

The Elephant’s Instep

The Reverso Collection originated in the early 1930s as the solution to a conundrum of British Army Officers in India. They wished for a wristwatch that could withstand polo matches without getting damaged, and thus the Reverso was born. Popular with both women and men, the collection manages to deliver androgynous elegance whilst remaining true to its heritage.

The collection’s eponymous movement allows its wearer the option of having either the front or a second back face showing to the world. These second face options range from the classic stainless steel back, to an alternate watch face, or the back side of a tourbillon movement.

In celebration of this iconic collection and its strong connection to design history, we have paired Reverso watches with famous Art Deco buildings. Put your best outfit on, run a comb through that hair and be prepared to do some dancing – we’re doing some Jazz Age matchmaking, guys and dolls.

Reverso from 1931 with a black dial

The Manchester Unity Building and the Reverso Tribute Calendar

Located just a short hop from The Hour Glass Melbourne, the Manchester Unity Building has been an iconic fixture of the Melbourne city since its completion in 1932. This gorgeous Art Deco building was constructed on behalf of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows, one of the key members of the friendly societies movement in Australia.

Used at various times by a shifting clientele including the Australian Army and Government departments, the structure now houses dentists, architecture studios and jewellers alike, with the brilliant shine of the historic lift system’s copper doors opening at all twelve levels of the building. Stunning Australian marble, polished wood, copper detailing and creamy, ornate walls and ceilings define this building’s truly immersive interior, but this colour palette is only the start of why it is a perfect match with the Reverso Tribute Calendar.

Both watch and building meet the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s claim of enchanting lovers of beautiful objects, with the Tribute Calendar’s pink gold case, charcoal and cream dials and hand-hammered moon phases conjuring romantic feelings of a bygone era. However, just like its architectural soul mate, the Reverso Tribute Calendar is also brilliantly practical. Like the shifting inhabitants of the Manchester Unity Building, the wearer of the Tribute Calendar can choose between two faces that display two time zones and a complete calendar. This beautiful little package is displayed on its wearer’s wrist by a brown alligator leather strap – evoking the brown leather of the Manchester Unity’s heritage listed furniture.

Keeping business ticking along is the watch’s 853 Calibre manual winding movement, which has a power reserve of 42 hours – enough to get you through a standard working week, as well as after work drinks in one of Melbourne’s roof-top bars. If you want a watch that evokes both modern style and design history, it makes sense to choose the Reverso Tribute Calendar. Both the Reverso and its architectural counterpart proudly showcase their tradition, timeless style and eye for opulent, yet classic detail; the difference is, you can only wear one of them on your wrist.

Credit: Hodinkee

The Chrysler Building and the Reverso One Duetto Moon

One of the New York skyline’s biggest icons is the Chrysler Building – a truly stunning Art Deco-style skyscraper completed in 1930. Built off the back of the immense social and technological developments of the post-World War I era, The Chrysler Building was originally the project of former New York State Senator and real estate developer William H. Reynolds. Lacking funds, Reynolds sold the plot and plans to Walter Chrysler in 1928; upon completion, it maintained the Chrysler Corporation Headquarters in the building.

Glimmering metal and masonry aside, the Chrysler Building truly reached new heights. Not only was it the first man-made structure taller than 300 metres, but it was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before being overtaken by fellow New York resident: the Empire State Building. The way in which the Chrysler Building took Art Deco influences and techniques beyond just the realm of design philosophy – and created something boldly innovative as a result – is also true of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso One Duetto Moon.

With the glimmer of both structures’ stainless steel exteriors attracting the viewer’s eye, it’s almost hard not to see the Reverso One Duetto Moon’s dauphine hands, sunburst guilloche dial pattern and rounded Arabic numerals in the Chrysler’s spire.

But that’s nothing compared to when it lights up the skyline at night – a breathtaking effect reflected in the Reverso One Duetto Moon’s reverse face. Comprising a beautiful midnight blue dial with a light sprinkling of stars, this dial is adorned with a mother-of-pearl moon phase, and framed by two rows of brilliant-cut diamonds.

It’s not all about looks though. Just as the Chrysler Building represented the rise of technologies like the automobile industry and the economic boom of the 1920s, so too does the Reverso One Duetto Moon epitomise the spirit of Modernity. Its stainless steel, water-resistant case encloses a 129 part, Calibre 842 manual-winding movement, with a power reserve of 38 hours. All of this stunning functionality is strapped safely to your wrist by an alligator leather strap in mid-blue.

The Ant’s Pants

Timeless elegance and functional longevity are two markers of good design in any field, however, it is truly remarkable when it is symbiotically achieved across multiple fields. This is the why the Art Deco Movement was, and continues to be so special: it at once allowed for opulence, indulgence and its own time period’s specificities of taste, whilst also being made to last.

With its shining silver exteriors, innovative reverse face mechanism and effortless cool, this essence of the Art Deco Movement is championed by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Collection, which, like a stalwart skyscraper, will stand proud for many years to come. For more, click here for Part 2.

The Jaeger‑LeCoultre Care Program

Underpinning its ambition to continuously provide richer, more innovative and tailored experiences for its customers, Jaeger‑LeCoultre offers a Care Program in line with evolving global customer needs and desire for personalized content, technical expertise and education. The Jaeger‑LeCoultre Care Program will provide you with personalized product information, advice, services and the ability to register for an extension of your International Limited Warranty up to 8 years.

Timepieces that are still curently covered by the original “International Limited Warranty” will be eligible for the warranty extension upon online registration to the Jaeger‑LeCoultre Care Program on jaeger-lecoultre.com/services 

Tags: architecture art deco jaeger-lecoultre jlc reverso

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