The big novelty from Jaeger Lecoultre this year certainly is the Reverso Tribute Chronograph. Indeed, the 2023 collection unveils some iterations, such as the Reverso Tribute Tourbillon, or the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon Hybris Artistica, without forgetting the latest Reverso Tribute Small Seconds, in rose gold, or in steel.
Compared to all the above mentioned, the Reverso Tribute Chronograph can be called a novelty. But is it a true novelty, really?
If I allow myself to raise the question, it is due to the fact that we already saw a Chronograph in a Reverso... Since 1996, with the sublime Reverso Chronograph in rose gold, limited to 500 pieces, or since 2000, with the sporty and unlimited Reverso Gran Sport Chronograph, in steel or in yellow gold.
The Uber Elegance of the Reverso Chronograph from 1996:
The uber cool Reverso Gran Sport Chronograph, from 2000:
Credit: Touch of Modern.
So, a Tribute necessarily alludes and / or pays homage to the Past, and Jaeger Lecoultre has a brilliant past, but there is nothing truly new here. Even less if we consider that the new Reverso Tribute Chronograph houses a modernized ( enhanced? ) version of the original Cal 829 from 1996 or Cal 859 from 2000.
Shall we rather ( or better ) call it a modern expression of the Reverso Chronograph? I do think so, for some reasons I will elaborate now.
1/ THE CASE:
Jaeger Lecoultre opted for the Reverso Tribute Calendar case, with its huge dimensions: 49, 4 x 29, 9 mm and 11, 14 mm high, which is 0, 5 mm thicker than the " Calendar ".
You can judge the thickness of the case here:
And even more demonstrative, here:
These figures must be compared to the former two Reverso Chronographs: The limited edition in rose gold was 42 x 26 mm big and 9, 5 mm high. The Gran Sport was 43, 5 x 28, 3 mm big and 12, 6 mm high.
Good or bad?
The Reverso Chronograph from 1996 was a precious watch, playing the card of Elegance on both faces, enhanced by the proportions of its case.
The Reverso Gran Sport Chronograph was younger, fresher, with a more cool factor, which was consistent for a Sports version.
Intrinsically, it is not a bad thing to have a bigger case for the new Reverso Tribute Chronograph, depending on the spirit of this watch. Are you playing in the " cool " or in the elegance register? If you see it as an elegant watch, then the 45, 6 x 27, 4 case of the Tribute Small Seconds or Tribute Duoface Tourbillon would have been a better choice. If you are more on the sports or cool spirit, then the bigger case is spot on. The dials will give us the answer, as they are the soul of a watch.
2/ THE DIALS:
Consistent, both the former Reverso Chronographs were, as we saw. Is it the case with the new Tribute Chronograph?
Here, I will make a distinction between the rose gold and the steel versions.
-> THE ROSE GOLD.
I have to confess that I find this version more convincing and more harmonious than the steel version for one reason: Compare the recto and the verso dials, on the photo posted above.
There is some chromatic harmony between the two dials and the case, with the touches of gold and black.
The small touches of blue and red here and there adds a bit more life. There is something " matching " between these two dials. I might add that the rose gold case / black dial is eye-catching, powerful and convincing. If you like rose gold, then this version may well be for you. To make it even more attractive, I would have gone for a gilt movement on the verso...
-> THE STEEL VERSION.
I find that the recto dial is superb, more elegant and subtle than the black dial. I would well see it in a Tribute Small seconds, truth to be told.
But there are two details which give me mixed feelings:
- My main concern is that the recto doesn't match, from a chromatic point of view, with the verso. I would have changed the black ring, semi ring and rectangular minute markers of the chronograph functions on the verso for blued ones. Maybe even the applied hour markers on the verso.
- As they are, these two dials lack consistency. Refined on the recto, cool on the verso, which way does this watch want to take? Add the thickness of the case, and I would say that in steel, this watch would have been more consistent with a more powerful dial on the recto. And even more with this kind of strap, a blend of blue canvas and black leather which is a great choice.
Now what I really like is:
- On the recto, the lack of date and the fact that Jaeger Lecoultre removed the run / stop indicator; The watch gains in purity.
- On the verso, the aerial feeling of the floating applied indices and the rectangular minutes ring, floating above the dial. And the movement, in the steel version, which chromatically matches with the case.
- Last but certainly not least, the fact that Jaeger Lecoultre added a time subdial on the verso, which smartly and nicely includes the Seconds of the Chronograph. To avoid any confusion, the time on the verso is the same as on the recto, it is NOT a second time zone.
3/ THE MOVEMENT:
The Cal 860 is nothing else than a modern version of the Cal 829 from 1996 and the Cal 859 from the late 90's .
The Cal 829:
The Cal 859 ( Credit picture: Our dear Ed W )
As you can see, the Cal 859 is a steel evolution of the 14K Rose Gold Cal 829, which were both made of 317 parts and offered a power reserve of 44 hours, with a refinement: The Retrograde 30 minutes chronograph counter.
The Cal 860 adds two important details: A longer power reserve ( 52 hours ) and, as previously said, the indication of Time on the verso side which is the same time as on the recto.
If it is nicely decorated, I regret that it is not better finished. The finishing looks ( and is ) industrial, here. You will tell me that for that price we couldn't expect better, I would answer that on the contrary, it should be better finished. Indeed, if you compare the movement of any Duometre in rose gold, we are very close to the retail of this Tribute Chronograph in rose gold, too.
One last word on the price. At 24, 000 Euros in steel, and 42, 000 Euros in gold, these are not cheap watches. BUT we should keep in mind that the Reverso Gran Sport Chrono already was, in the late 90's at circa 15, 000 Euros, and a bit less than the double in gold. Is that what Jaeger Lecoultre means by Golden Ratio?
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,