Introduced in 2016, the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon was the fourth iteration of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s signature bi-axial tourbillon and a true expression of the Grand Maison’s Metiers Rares. A massive (yet thinner) improvement over the colossal Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2 of 2008, it’s hard to imagine the Le Sentier manufacture outdoing the sophisticated more wearable version of its multi-axis tourbillon.
Since it’s conception in 1931, the Reverso has been Jaeger-LeCoultre’s eminent canvas for everything from time-only mechanisms to high-complications. For its 90th birthday, the manufacture has outdone itself yet again with its most iconic designs. The most complicated timepiece ever presented in this emblematic collection, the new Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 is the result of over six years of development, combining key areas of savoir-faire at Jaeger-LeCoultre with innovative new astronomical indications: synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycles.
JAEGER-LECOULTre REVERSO: A Journey of Time
Since the advent of human agrarian cultures, mankind has gone great lengths to reckon time and the passage of seasons with the study of extraterrestrial bodies in the heavens. It is in the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque that work of over two thousand years is perfected with a cumulative 188 years of relentless innovation and savoir-faire
If the Tribute Gyrotourbillon Four celebrating the Reverso’s 85th anniversary did not already convince you of La Grande Maison’s watchmaking primacy, the four faces and 11 complications requiring 12 patents on one singular exemplar is the final word of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s uncontested mastery of chiming watches, precision mechanisms, astronomical complications and ultra-compact watchmaking.
By incorporating three displays of lunar information on the interior face of the iconic Reverso cradle (the synodic cycle, the draconic cycle and the anomalistic cycle), the Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque is the world’s first wristwatch able to predict the next global incidence of astronomical events such as supermoons and eclipses.
Metiers Rares Indeed
Perpetuating its legacy for precision. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s explorations in creating exceptional executions of the tourbillon resulted in not only the Reverso Hybris Mechanica à Triptyque (2006), a singularly unique tourbillon with a high-precision ellipse isometer escapement but also the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Gyrotourbillon 2 (2008) which won chronometry awards with its multi-axial revolving balance. Given that the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon was essentially the perfecting of work across two centuries, it stands to reason that the gravity-compensating regulating organ remains is one of the main protagonists of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185.
Occupying the 7 o’clock position on the recto face of the case, a flying tourbillon (so named for the absence of an upper bridge allowing it to appear as if “flying”) makes one rotation a minute, continuous putting its balance in varying positions in order to achieve a single corrected average time measurement; the balance is the heart of any watch movement, on this everything depends, marking the passing of one second at regular cadences of eight beats.
Regulated by a precision flying tourbillon, the passage of time calculated and accumulated in gearwork makes the perpetual calendar and its other associated high complications possible. The recto face of the Quadriptyque case shows the indications of a perpetual calendar famed for its ability to take leap years into account, displaying a 29th day in the month of February every four years.
Since the advent of personal timepieces, the quest to build increasingly complicated watches is constrained by the volume of space available to the watchmaker. Having a multitude of complications in a watch is pointless unless they can be legibly and comprehensibly displayed, and the watch can be reasonably worn.
The unique design of the iconic Reverso, makes the function and display of 11 complications possible. In the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque, Jaeger-LeCoultre has created a world’s first: a double-faced case continuously driven by the in-house Calibre 185, and a double-faced cradle with indications synced and updated by the primary movement every day at the stroke of midnight by an ingenious mechanical system proprietary to the Grand Maison. This timepiece is the Le Sentier manufacture’s magnum opus, telling the story of cosmic and terrestrial time within the confines of a 51mm by 31mm by 15mm case rather than what would most likely be a desk clock in the hands of a less astute watchmaker.
Reverso Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque: What the Heavens (look and) sound like
There exists only one watchmaking manufacture that has over 200 chiming watch calibres in its historical and modern inventory — La Grande Maison du Sentier. With the slide of a lever located just above the crown, the Quadriptyque unleashes its melody.
Visible through the Clous de Paris decorated movement plate, a series of low notes makes its siren call, correlating to the number of hours. Then, an alternating couplet of high and low notes, corresponding to the quarter-hours. And finally, a succession of high notes, indicating the number of minutes to be added to the elapsed quarters. In concert, the hours-quarters- minutes chime plays the current time melodiously.
The striking works of the Reverso Quadriptyque are completely exposed alongside a secondary time display, indicating the same time as the recto dial, but in a jumping-hours and peripheral-minutes format. As the Quadriptyque strikes the time, setting a symphony of springs, cams, hammers and gongs into motion, their acoustic report confirms the visual display of the secondary dial.
More recent in-house innovations showcased in the Quadriptyque are the crystal gongs (first seen in the Master Minute Repeater Antoine LeCoultre of 2005) that attach the repeater gongs directly to the sapphire crystal to exploit the material’s optimal acoustic properties, the square cross-sectional profile of the gongs themselves that maximise contact and energy transmission between the hammers and gongs (a mainstay of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s repeating watches since 2006), and the articulated trebuchet hammers (developed for the 2009 Hybris Mechanica Duomètre à Grande Sonnerie) that deliver a clean and strong strike to the gongs. In totality, these innovations allow Jaeger-LeCoultre minute repeaters to produce some of the loudest and clearest chiming wristwatches today.
Unlike the conventional minute repeater mechanism utilising special pivoting racks that read the time off a series of cams then proceeding to activate each group of chimed notes in turn, this often results in gaps of silence when there are no intervening quarters. For its anniversary, the Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 is a completely novel engineering of the chiming components: creating an uncommon seamless chime with no pauses in between the hours, quarters and minutes. A culmination of its expertise which has seen exemplars like the Hybris Mechanica Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon (2014) and Master Grande Tradition Gyrotourbillon Westminster Perpétuel (2019).
New Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso: The cosmos revealed
For the first time ever in the history of mechanical horology, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Quadriptyque unites three displays of lunar information.
Occupying the top half of the interior face of the cradle of the Reverso Quadriptyque is a massive representation of the phases of the moon in the Northern Hemisphere. An astronomical rather than a horological complication, requiring only one adjustment after 1,111 years. The laser-engraved moon is a work of art itself, progressively covered and revealed by a mobile blue lacquer disc with gold glitter décor, corresponding to the age of the moon in the synodic cycle.
Below the moon phase, a counter with a three-dimensional micro-sculpted pink-gold sun orbited by a tiny hemispherical moon. This counter shows the draconic cycle, showing when the path of the Moon intersects with the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (known as the ecliptic). Such an intersection takes place twice in each cycle, indicated by the horizontal alignment on the counter of the moon and the sun.
To the right of the draconic cycle counter is a domed representation of the Earth, micro-painted in enamel, with a hemispherical moon in eccentric orbit around it. This counter represents the anomalistic cycle, showing the varying distance between the Earth and Moon.
The display of the synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycle together in a wristwatch is absolutely unprecedented in horology, with the latter two indications protected by patent.
In its 90 year history, we’ve gone from the original Reverso bearing a single time-telling face that could be turned over within its cradle, revealing a protective caseback to the world’s first wristwatch with four faces; what a journey of our time.