Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces the Reverso Tribute Chronograph

Revisiting an icon.

At Watches & Wonders 2023, Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) is once again focusing on the Reverso, launching several new models along with new dial for existing references. The most notable debut is certainly the Reverso Tribute Chronograph, which offers a minimalist primary time display on one side and a partially open-worked chronograph on the other.

This new model pays tribute to the Reverso Chronographe Retrograde of 1996, perhaps one of the best watches of that decade and one that helped solidify JLC’s status as a master of complications. The Reverso Tribute Chronograph reimagines the original for a new generation of collectors while being different enough to be its own watch.

The reverse face with the chronograph as well as additional time display

Initial thoughts

On its face (no pun intended), the Reverso Tribute Chronograph is good value, offering a novel and compact chronograph movement with classic but unusual aesthetics thanks to its two faces.

A key different between this and the original is the double-sided time display (that shows the same time on both faces). Initially, I was disappointed by the addition of a time display on the chronograph side of the watch.

In my view, part of the charm of the original was the single-minded focus of each side. But upon reflection I’ve come to view this change as an upgrade, since it now enables the user to wear the chronograph side up as a primary time display when desired. This practicality differentiates the Tribute from the original.

At US$21,400 in steel and US$37,400 in pink gold, the Reverso Tribute Chronograph is an interesting value proposition. These numbers are undeniably steep for what is, in some ways, a fairly simple, manually wound chronograph. 

Moreover, the movement inside is a revised version of the original, rather than a new calibre. In a way, it is disappointing that a brand like JLC, which was originally a movement maker, recycled the original rather than constructed something new.

On the other hand, there’s nothing else quite like it. The ability to have one watch that offers two distinct personalities is typically the domain of watches that cost a lot more, like the De Bethune Kind of Two and Marco Lang Zweigesicht-1. In this context, the Reverso Tribute Chronograph offers good value.

A fitting tribute

The Reverso Tribute Chronograph is offered in two references – one in steel with a blue-grey sunburst dial, and one in 18k pink gold with a black sunburst dial. Both offer a primary dial in the Reverso Tribute style (dauphine hands, baton markers, and railway minute track) and on the reverse, a skeletonised secondary dial that displays the chronograph with its distinctive retrograde 30-minute counter. The case measures 49.4 mm x 29.9 mm, and is surprisingly thin at just 11.14 mm.

As its name suggests, the Reverso Tribute Chronograph pays homage to what was arguably the golden age of JLC. The Reverso Chronographe Retrograde was introduced in 1996 as one of six complicated Reverso limited editions released throughout the 1990s. Cased in pink gold like the rest of the series, the Reverso chronograph was powered by the clever and compact cal. 829.

While the new cal. 860 clearly shares much of the architecture of the original cal. 829 with its column wheel and lateral clutch, there are some notable differences. An immediately noticeable difference is the color. While the plates and bridges of the cal. 829 were gold plated, the new cal. 860 is made of rhodium-plated brass (as is the norm today). 

From a technical standpoint, the most significant update is the addition of a redundant time display on the chronograph side. Despite having two displays for the time, it is not a dual-time watch; both displays are synchronised. Although the additional time display is a major visual change, it is a straightforward mechanical affair that does not render the movement significantly more complicated.

The cal. 860 is impressively thin at just 5.5 mm, thanks in part to its lateral clutch architecture and JLC’s technical competency. For context, the cal. 860 is 20% thinner than the Omega cal. 1861, which shares the manually wound, lateral clutch format but lacks the dual-face time display.

Like other modern Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, the cal. 860 offers a free-sprung balance, dispensing with the Triovis regulator found on the cal. 829 and the brand’s other movements of that era.

The cal. 860 is finished in typical JLC style: well done industrial decoration. It shows machine-applied anglage and Côtes de Genève, consistent with other Reverso and Master Control watches. 

Key Facts and Price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph
Ref. Q389848J (steel)
Ref. Q389257J (18k pink gold)

Diameter: 49.4 mm x 29.9 mm
Height: 11.14 mm
Material: Steel or 18k pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 860
Functions: Hours, minutes, chronograph with retrograde 30-minute counter
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 52 hours
Strap: Casa Fagliano calfskin leather and canvas-and-calfskin straps included

Limited edition: No
Availability: At boutiques only
Price: US$21,400 (steel) and US$37,400 (pink gold) excluding taxes

For more, visit jaeger-lecoultre.com.

Correction April 5, 2023: The watch is only available at JLC boutiques and not retailers as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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