Since clocks were first miniaturised to be carried or worn as watches, women have played a pivotal role in determining the aesthetic of time and the ways in which it is worn. Thanks to the pioneering spirit of its founder, LeCoultre & Cie recognised the tremendous aesthetic and technical potential of timepieces that could also be worn as jewels and accessories and, at an early stage in La Grande Maison’s history, began creating watches for women as well as men. Blending the arts of horology and jewellery, the Maison has continued to marry technical sophistication, creative design and aesthetic beauty in a process of constant evolution.
Underlining this commitment to feminine expressions of fine watchmaking, the Reverso – although originally conceived for the gentleman polo player – began to appear in feminine form very soon after its launch in 1931. Among the many variations were models that could be worn on a cordonnet bracelet or transformed into brooches, handbag clips or pendants. In 2023, Jaeger-LeCoultre takes this creative legacy to a new level, presenting a new interpretation of the Reverso in the form of a magnificent piece of High Jewellery – the Reverso Secret Necklace.
A timeless design reimagined as a jewel
Since 1931, no compromise has been made on the core design elements that define the Reverso – the horizontal gadroons that emphasise the rectilinear geometry of the case; the triangular lugs that appear to be a seamless extension of the case sides. Thanks to this distinctive, harmonious and highly functional case, the Reverso has become regarded as an icon of 20th-century design. Far from being a limitation, the faithful adherence to its codes has allowed Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers great creative freedom to constantly reinterpret its distinctive swivelling case without sacrificing its identity or integrity.
The Reverso Secret Necklace transforms the design icon into a graceful and exquisitely feminine sautoir, or long necklace. The cordonnet, the original black textile bracelet (literal translation: fine or small cord) seen on Reverso models of the 1930s has been reimagined as a supple chain of intricate diamond-set links and polished onyx beads, from which a richly gem-set Reverso is suspended. Two pendants of polished onyx charms add a refined flourish to this elegant new way of wearing the time.
Among High Jewellery watches there is a long history of secret watches – watches with a gem-set cover hiding the dial until the wearer wishes to read the time. The swivelling case of the Reverso is a twist on this idea, concealing the time when turned over. Although initially designed for purely practical reasons, the blank metal flip side of the case offers almost limitless potential for decoration with gem-setting, enamelling or engraving.
Worn with the case back turned to the front, the Reverso Secret Necklace is a beautiful Art Deco-inspired jewel that conceals its secret power of time-telling until the wearer chooses to reveal it; worn with the front dial showing, it is an exquisite timepiece that hides its reverse side like an enchanting, personal pleasure. It is notable that while the dial appears to observers to be upside-down, it is set that way so that the wearer can read the time naturally as she lifts the watch to her line of sight.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the very few watchmaking Maisons to have its own Métiers Rares® (Rare Handcrafts) atelier, bringing multiple craft skills together in a specialised workshop within its Manufacture. This encourages close collaboration between the various artisans, a constant exchange of ideas and a shared creative energy.
Recalling the Art Deco origins of the Reverso, the reverse side of the pink gold case is set with white diamonds and black onyx in an intricate pattern of geometric repeats, contrasting with the warm tone of the metal. Vertical rows of grain-set diamonds wrap around the convex sides of the case and frame the dial. Contrasting with the richness of black onyx and pink gold, the centre of the dial is set with white diamonds, as are the signature brackets that define each corner of the dial. Each of the hundreds of tiny links that form the supple chain has been set with diamonds – a particularly demanding process as it requires great skill and dexterity to manipulate such tiny elements. The clasp of the necklace is formed of polished onyx, pink gold and diamonds and the triangular sections that attach the cordonnet to the top and bottom of the case are also decorated with diamonds set in pink gold on a background of black onyx. With over 3,000 diamonds, the gem-setting on the Reverso Secret Necklace requires over 300 hours of meticulous work for our Métiers Rares® atelier artisans.
Concealed within the case, the movement that powers the Reverso Secret Necklace is testament to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s commitment to mechanical excellence. Developed and produced entirely in house and comprising 93 parts, the manually-wound Calibre 846 was created specifically for the Reverso and, in keeping with the Manufacture’s philosophy of product integrity, is shaped to follow the contours of the rectangular case.
The Reverso Secret Necklace is an exquisite creation that represents a rare and noble marriage of high jewellery, rare handcrafts and fine watchmaking.
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