The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is characterized by three things: a rectangular shape, reversible case, and Art Deco design. The luxury watch manufacturer from Le Sentier, Switzerland originally developed the now-famous timepiece in the early 1930s with polo players in mind. The reversible case design allowed players to protect the delicate watch glass from impacts during matches by moving the center of the case out of its socket and flipping it around to expose the case back. The core concept remains the same to this day.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has a long history to look back on. The watchmaker was originally founded in 1833. Today, the Reverso is considered Jaeger-LeCoultre‘s most popular model. It was also the manufacturer’s bestselling model on Chrono24 in 2019. The Reverso Classic ref. 250.8.86 and the Reverso Grande Taille ref. 270.8.62 are two of the top-selling watches in this series. Both stainless steel watches have relatively restrained designs and are powered by hand-wound movements. They also mark an affordable entry point into the world of JLC. More luxurious gold or platinum models with perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, or tourbillons are also available. These represent some of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most sophisticated models and are, therefore, on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to prices. We’ll take a closer look at the coveted refs. 250.8.86 and 270.8.62 below.
Characteristics of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
The most important design feature of the Reverso is arguably the reversible case mentioned above. Both the refs. 250.8.86 and 270.8.62 come with polished metal case backs. While both cases are made of stainless steel, the former measures 23 x 38 mm and the latter, 26 x 42 mm. Another commonality is the watches’ godroons, three clear-cut decorations near the lugs.
The watches’ rectangular, Art Deco dials are yet another shared feature. These are characterized by Arabic numerals around the dial edge, a rectangular railroad minute track closer to the center, and clear brand lettering at 12 o’clock. The Reverso text, in turn, is featured on the lower half of the dial. JLC relies on blued sword hands, which underline the classic look of the watch. The lack of a central seconds hand or decentralized seconds dial gives the ref. 250.8.86 a slightly tidier look overall. In contrast to the ref. 250.8.86, the ref. 270.8.62 has a rectangular small seconds subdial at the 6 o’clock position. The indices on the subdial are reminiscent of the larger minute track. Arabic numerals mark the 15, 30, 45, and 60-second positions.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic ref. 250.8.86 and the Reverso Grande Taille ref. 270.8.62 are both powered by manual, in-house movements. This means both watches must be wound by hand after a certain amount of time as there is no automatic winding mechanism. The cases of both models are remarkably slim; in fact, the ref. 250.8.86 stands just 7 mm tall. This watch is powered by the JLC 846/1 caliber, which is 2.9 mm thick, consists of 93 individual components, and features 18 jewels. The balance wheel beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour (vph), which is equivalent to 3 Hz, and has a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound.
The ref. 270.8.62, on the other hand, is powered by the JLC 822 caliber, which stands 0.04 mm taller than the JLC 846/1 due to the small seconds component. This movement is comprised of 134 individual parts, including 21 jewels, and also vibrates at 21,600 vph. The power reserve is roughly 45 hours when fully wound. JLC tends to rely on the 822 in larger models and the 846/1 in smaller ones; both movements exhibit the very finest in hand finishing.
An Alternative: The Reverso Gran Sport
The third most popular JLC watch on Chrono24 in 2019 was the Reverso Gran Sport ref. 290.8.60. As its name suggests, this watch has a sportier look than its model siblings. This is in part due to the watch’s metal bracelet and triangle indices, as opposed to Art Deco numerals. Most versions of the Reverso Gran Sport only feature Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o’clock, while the date display is located at the 6 o’clock position and the brand logo can be found at 12 o’clock. The hands, indices, and numerals are all filled with luminous material, and the red tip on the central second hand also glows in the dark. The stainless steel case measures approximately 27 x 43 mm.
The Reverso Gran Sport ref. 290.8.60 is powered by the automatic JLC 960R caliber, which vibrates at 28,800 vph or 4 Hz, and has a power reserve of approximately 42 hours.
The Reverso With a Minute Repeater
Minute repeaters are one of the most sophisticated horological complications. As the name suggests, this function repeats the minutes. What may be less clear is that the minute repeater chimes the time acoustically. This is operated via a striking mechanism that can typically be activated using a slide on the side of the case. This mechanism is present on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Repetition Minutes ref. 270.2.73. Once the slide on the left side of the rose gold case is activated, the watch will strike the hours followed by the quarter hours and minutes.
At just 26 x 42 mm, the Reverso Repetition Minutes is one of the smallest minute repeaters on the market. The case houses the in-house JLC 943 caliber, a hand-wound movement with a power reserve of roughly 45 hours. The caliber consists of 306 individual components and 38 jewels.
The ref. 270.2.73 shares the model’s typical Art Deco design with its railroad minute track, Arabic numerals, and blued sword hands. In contrast to most other Reverso watches, the dial features a cutout at the 5 o’clock position, giving the wearer a clear view of the complication’s centrifugal governor, which works to ensure the mechanism’s small hammers strike the gongs evenly. Of course, this model also features the characteristic reversible case. Jaeger-LeCoultre first released the Reverso Repetition Minutes in the 1990s with a limited run of 500 pieces.
Price and Performance
The Reverso Repetition Minutes is one of the most expensive Reverso models on the market due to its limited availability and complicated functionality. Prices for a used example are currently around 32,500 EUR (approx. 38,000 USD).
Models like the Reverso Gran Sport or Classic, however, are much more affordable. A pre-owned stainless steel Reverso Classic ref. 250.8.86 runs around 2,800 EUR (approx. 3,300 USD), while a new timepiece costs closer to 3,100 EUR (approx. 3,700 USD). Prices for this watch have remained relatively stable over the past few years.
It’s a similar story with the Reverso Gran Sport ref. 290.8.60. A pre-owned watch costs around 3,700-4,300 EUR (approx. 4,400-5,100 USD), depending on its condition. Mint condition examples will set you back several hundred dollars more.
The Reverso Grande Taille ref. 270.8.62 likewise costs around 4,200 EUR (approx. 5,000 USD) used. Prices for this watch have subtly shifted up and down in recent years. Plan on spending a few extra hundred for a new timepiece.