If you want to read the official press release for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest creation, head over to dmarge.com. It’s not a word-for-word regurgitation, but the Australian watch blog’s ode to the JLC Reverso Tribute Nonantième – Benedict Cumberbatch’s New Jaeger-leCoultre is the Ideal Gentlemen’s Watch – made me distinctly queasy. Not that I’m against blow jobs per se . . .
The 44-year-old star of Sherlock, Doctor Strange and The Imitation Game is widely considered one of the most talented and versatile actors alive today, as well as the veritable model of an English gentleman: well-spoken, refined, and with impeccable taste. Like any gentleman worth their salt, he has an interest in fine timepieces – so it’s no surprise that in 2018, he formalised a relationship with Jaeger-LeCoultre, one of the world’s finest and most refined watchmakers.
Are we to suppose that Mr. Cumberbatch was into Jaeger-leCoultre’s “fine timepieces” before their people contacted his people and mentioned the possibility of depositing large amounts of lucre into his bank account? Puh-lease. While I admire the actor’s work, when it comes to his JLC ambassadorship, the boarding school syndrome survivor (exiled at the age of eight) is no less a pimp than dmarge writer Jamie Weiss.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time to face facts: the JLC Reverso Tribute Nonantième is a truly astounding watch. In both design and execution, the two-faced timepiece takes ye olde Reverso to new heights. Well, maybe not so new. Sherman, set the wayback machine to 1931 . . .
That’s when French designer René-Alfred Chauvot engineered the Reverso’s rear-to-front caseback to protect the watch from errant polo mallets. As the Reverso entered the world of high fashion, Jaeger’s customers exploited the rear’s blank canvas with personalized engravings. JLC upped the ante – and assured the model’s longevity – by commissioning elaborate “hidden” decoration. (I suspect there are X-rated versions out there, somewhere).
Having [barely] survived the Quartz crisis, JLC targeted mechanical watch aficionados with a veritable farrago of Reverso complications: date hand, tourbillon, minute repeater, retrograde chronograph, dual time zone, perpetual calendar, big date, power reserve indicator, day/night indicator, Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, etc.
In 1994, in a unique display of horological bravado, JLC fitted the watch with two movements and dials: the Reverso Duoface. The trend reached its zenith (nadir?) with the three-dial Reverso Grande Complication a Triptyque and the four face Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 Quadriptyque (above). This is not the polo watch you’re looking for. Neither is the new Reverso Tribute Nonantième, obviously.
But the RTN is something of a shout out to the original watch – a variation of the Tribute Reverso. Which somehow forgot that the first Reverso didn’t have a small seconds subdial. Not to mention the fact that the JLC Reverso Tribute Nonantième dials-up a big date and moonphase indicator. Anyway, it’s the RTN’s flip side that elevates this bad boy to Cumberbatch-level artistry.
I’m not sure if the design is Art Deco, Moorish or Masonic. But I am sure it’s moody, mysterious and mythical. Practical, too. Executed with the kind of fanatical attention to detail that leaves us wondering – again, still – when Jaeger-LeCoultre will kick Audemars “Black Panther” Piguet to the curb and assume its rightful place in the Swiss watchmaking world’s Holy Trinity.
“The Reverso Tribute Nonantième is so special because the front is really understated but there is complexity and visual drama on the reverse side. I can keep it hidden for my own pleasure or show it when I want to.”
That’s some serious boarding school humor right there. Good on you Benjy for slipping that one in. (So to speak.) I’d be happy to slip the JLC Reverso Tribute Nonantième onto my wrist – if I had a spare $40,500 plus tax lingering in my bank account.
Then again, if I wanted two very different watch faces, I’d buy two very different watches. And I’m still captivated by the possibility of having something pithy and private engraved on a smooth Reverso caseback. I reckon I’d go with my alma mater’s motto: “For the Honor of Truth” Or something equally pretentious. I wonder what dmarge’s Mr. Weiss would choose. I recommend “love for sale.”