For nearly 90 years the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso has made an indelible face-flipping impact on the watch world. It’s been spotted on the wrists of A-list stars, on-screen and off, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Christian Bale. It has spawned a series of similar designs from the likes of Hamilton, Vacheron Constantin, and Movado. But none of the imitators have ever risen to the level of the original.

So let’s take a closer look at what makes the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso so special, and some of the models that have helped land it an esteemed spot in watchmaking history.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Made for War… Sort of

No, the Reverso isn’t a field watch. It actually isn’t even close, by today’s standards or back when military watches were invented, with what amounts to steel cages over their faces. But the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was made for soldiers who occupied a foreign land.

Let’s zip back in time to 1931. Britain maintained colonial control over India with its military might. But it was a time of relative peace, and the British soldiers spent much of their time playing polo. While there weren’t bombs and mortars, their watches still got banged up out on the field. Jaeger-LeCoultre came up with a solution, a watch that flipped over so that the case back was exposed to protect against any rough-and-tumble action the polo grounds could dish out.

Word spread and soon the watch was the toast of Europe, spotted on the wrists of Britain’s King Edward VIII and international aviation celeb Amelia Earhart. Personalization was one key to the Reverso’s success, as anyone could engrave anything, they wish on the case back and turn it into a one-of-a-kind showpiece. The following decades saw ebbs and flows, with the watch’s popularity rising and falling with the whims of fashion. After a run of over 30 years, production ceased.

A Fine Watch Gets Funky

Then the 70s arrived and things got, well, kind of far out, man. People grew their hair wild and outfits got even wilder. It was the perfect time for Italian watch dealer Giorgio Corvo to scoop up 200 Reverso cases he happened to notice on a visit to the Jaeger-LeCoultre factory in Switzerland. Back in Italy, he retrofitted movements, and the watch made its slow climb back en vogue. In 1982, with some convincing from Corvo, Jaeger-LeCoultre resurrected the watch and put it back into production. It hasn’t ceased since.

A Look at Some Legendary Reversos

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Reverso #jlc #jlcreverso #jaegerlecoultre #watchesofinstagram #wristshots #reversograndedate #edcgunner

A post shared by EDCG (@edcgunner) on Dec 22, 2018 at 8:00am PST

Reverso Grande Date

Bigger than your average Reverso, the Grande Date still doesn’t wear noticeably hefty, coming in at 46.5mm x 27mm. The stainless steel hand-wound watch has a whopping eight-day power reserve, gauged by an indicator on its no-nonsense dial. But what’s most impressive is its simplicity, an elegant entry in the line with few complications, just a large date window, small seconds hand, and understated Arabic numerals. In stainless steel on a fine brown alligator strap, this subdued beauty is ready for any affair that calls for a sophisticated air.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverse Tribute GYROTOURBILLON® A true masterpiece of watchmaking expertise and Jaeger-LeCoultre's rare handcrafts ("Metiers Rares®"), the platinum Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon® watch is full of surprises with its two contrasting faces. An exceptional model presented in a limited series of 75 pieces. The elegant face on the front of the watch is an expression of watchmaking sophistication down to the very last detail. The blued dauphine hands stand out elegantly on the grained white dial, while a day/night indicator is subtly housed at 11 o'clock. The dial is adorned with a sunburst guilloché decoration that echoes the finish of the horns of the watch. @jaegerlecoultre #JaegerLeCoultre #Reverso #JLC #ReverseTribute #Gyrotourbillon #ReversoTributeGyrotourbillon #Tourbillon #GrandComplication #Complication #LuxuryWatch #Timepiece #Montre #SwissMade #Masterpiece #LeicaPhotography #HaomingWangFoto #WatchesofInstagram #InstaWatch #JLCsydney

A post shared by Haoming Wang (@h.m.uhren) on Nov 30, 2019 at 12:23pm PST

Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon

If you really like skeletonized watches, you ́ll love the Tribute Gyrotourbillon. On the front, you ́ll find an upper white textured dial with dauphine hands that effortlessly hovers over an intricate field of gears, while below at the six o ́clock position there’s a likewise floating tourbillon. Flip it over and there’s yet another time display, this time over a fully skeletonized dial. Either face you choose puts a wonderfully complicated display of inner workings on your wrist.

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The detail on the dial of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Calendar is simply amazing. With its calendar and moonphase indications on the front, the rear features a second timezone function, making this an elegant and functional timepiece. Monards is an Authorised Retailer for @jaegerlecoultre. monards.com.au

A post shared by Monards (@monards_aus) on Nov 17, 2016 at 4:52pm PST

Reverso Tribute Calendar

In pink gold, the look of this charming piece might be a bit on the dainty side for some. But for those who revel in its grace notes love it all the more for its soft side. And it’s got a practical side as well. You can track two different time zones on its front and back faces, the latter offering a night and day indicator as well. And it’s a moonphase watch! Track lunar movement with a bosom-style indicator that shows a graphic representation of the moon as it looks at any moment in the night sky. Perfect for both men and women, this versatile dress watch oozes refinement with design elements that recall the 1931 original.

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@jaegerlecoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface 리베르소는 꼭 하나 구입할 예정인데 항상 생각하는 건 지금은 생산 중지된 그랑 데이트 8데이즈나 선 문. 그러니까 좀 복잡한 모델이 땡겼다. 그런데 요새 나온 트리뷰트 듀오페이스나 스몰세컨즈의 블루 컬러가 참 맘에 드네… . #jaegerlecoultre #JLC #reverso #reversotributeduoface #reversotributesmallseconds #blue #bluewatch #watch #wristporn #watchstagram #wristshot #예거르쿨트르 #리베르소 #트리뷰트 #시계 #시계스타그램 #착용샷

A post shared by 김도우 (@dowoo1950) on Oct 15, 2019 at 7:22pm PDT

Reverso Tribute Duoface

A striking timepiece with a blue-and-silver motif, the Tribute Duoface goes for a 3D vibe with its dual-hued appliquéd hour markers. It also has got a serious Art Deco lean with a stainless steel case that follows contours we first met in the 1930s. The grainy dial complements a similar leather strap, which was specially designed by famed Argentinian bootmaker Casa Fagliano.

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That Guilloché on the center of the dial. ??? The new @jaegerlecoultre Reverso Classic Duoface as captured by us at the #sihh2016 Pure #watchporn and #elegance #JLC #jaeger #jaegerlecoultre #jlcreverso #reverso85 #reverso #reversoclassicduoface #lesentier #watches #watchfam #watchlife #watchlifestyler #watchcollector #watchcollecting #watchcollectinglifestyle #thegoodlife #luxury #luxurylife #timepieces #wristgame #nofilter #horology #dailywatch #lovewatches #womw #SIHH #love

A post shared by Watch Collecting Lifestyle (@watchcollectinglifestyle) on Feb 9, 2016 at 4:45am PST

Reverso Classic Duoface

As its name suggests, this model is a classic in every sense. This is a dress watch that positively asks to get taken out to a black-tie affair. It’s already dressed to impress for the part. A black grained dial stands in sleek contrast to gleaming silver hands. On a black alligator strap, this watch is sophistication personified, with a few handy features. Flip it over and you can track a second time zone on its reverse face.

Are you ready to throw things into reverse? Why not think of it as getting two watches for the price of one and pick up an amazing Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.

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