The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is one of the most iconic sports watches ever produced, a classic in Art Deco design that has enjoyed an enduring popularity since it was first released in 1931. It’s not hard to see why—combining timeless style with the Reverso’s price make it an easy sell in a pre-owned market full of bulky, utilitarian timepieces.
The watch has its origins in the British occupation of India. In the early 1930s, a Swiss businessman in the watch trade attending a polo match there was approached by a player who asked him if he could design a watch to withstand the rigors of such a physical sport. Returning to Switzerland, the executive discussed the challenge with his friend Jacques-David LeCoultre, and the two approached Jaeger, watchmaker to the French Navy at the time. Working with designer René-Alfred Chauvot, the team devised the Reverso—its thin, rectangular case flipped over in one easy motion so that the face was protected against the wearer’s wrist while the metal back took the brunt of any blow.
The Reverso was an instant success, and not long after, Jaeger-LeCoultre was formed. Since then, the brand has enjoyed a close relationship with the ‘sport of kings,’ sponsoring some of the world’s most distinguished tournaments and top-flight polo players including the former English captain, Luke Tomlinson, and Eduardo Novillo Astrada of Argentina, for whom “the Reverso is the watch that means polo.”
Other notable Reverso aficionados include General Douglas MacArthur, who had his initials engraved on the reverse; Amelia Earhart, pioneer of American aviation; and King Edward VIII of England, whose Reverso bore an engraved image of his crown and title. With its sublime balance of elegance and robustness, the Reverso also became popular with skiers and racing drivers, earning it a sterling reputation as a luxury sports watch, even though now it’s considered more of a dress piece.
More than 20 Reverso models have followed since 1931. In 2006, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced two innovations: the Squadra, the first Reverso to be issued with a square dial, and the limited edition Grande Complication à Triptyque, featuring three dials all powered by the same movement.
Two years later, AMC’s acclaimed drama Mad Men featured a Reverso on the wrist of uber-stylish protagonist Don Draper. Seizing the opportunity to be associated with the hit show, Jaeger-LeCoultre released its Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931 Tribute engraved with the initials of Draper’s firm, SCDP.
Below, we discuss some of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso models that attract the most interest from collectors and what affects Reverso prices in the pre-owned market.
Reverso Classique 250.8.10
First released: 1931
Price Range: $2300 – $3200 Pre-Owned
The quintessential Reverso has never stopped being in vogue—the slim profile and neat lines disguise the Classique’s resilience. Despite its uncomplicated appearance, this is a model that has been constantly refined over the last 85 years, so you can have complete confidence in its mechanism and quality. This model is also notable for being the only watch in the Jaeger-LeCoultre men’s’ collection to offer an option with a quartz movement.
Compared to other models, this Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso’s price is fairly low, and is not often seen on the market, perhaps an indication that owners like to hang on to their Classiques for as long as possible.
Reverso Squadra Chronograph Q7018120 / 230.8.45
First released: 2006
Price Range: $4900 – $5700 Pre-Owned
The Squadra is a little wider than most other Reverso models, allowing for more complications to be added. While the Reverso Squadra was Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first model to have a square dial, the patent for it was actually rejected. It turned out that René-Alfred Chauvot, the designer of the first Reverso case, had filed his own patent for a square case all the way back in 1931, but it was never actually produced. It just goes to show that every idea has its time.
Reverso Sun and Moon (steel) Q2753470 / 270.3.63
First released: 1999
Price Range: $7500 – $9200 Pre-Owned
The Reverso Sun and Moon is a thing of beauty. The scratch-resistant sapphire dial features the phases of the moon and an indicator of whether its night or day. On the reverse side, you can see the intricate, hand-finished movement. The Sun and Moon is available with case made of either yellow gold or pink gold, and stainless steel, while wearers have the choice of either a leather strap or a metal bracelet. The different materials account in part for the range of Reverso prices in the pre-owned market.
Reverso Duo Face Day Night GMT (gold) 270.1.54
First released: 1994
Price Range: $7500 – $9500 Pre-Owned
Rather than the traditional plain back which allows the owner to add an engraving, the Duo Face has instead a second dial for a different time zone, which can be easily adjusted. As with every Reverso, this model has an understated elegance that ensures it looks as good at a formal occasion as it does on the polo field. You can also opt for a stainless steel version for a more inexpensively-priced Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
For over three-quarters of a century, and despite the addition of a vast range of complications, the Reverso has always maintained one constant: that perfect symmetry of form and function which gives it timeless appeal.