Sports watches – two interpretations: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph and LAURENT FERRIER Sport Auto 40
The tenth edition of the Lifetime Awards Gala in 2023 was held at the Kempinski Hotel in Munich, and, as my colleague already mentioned, it was an overwhelming success. It was a pleasure to meet old friends and to make new ones. The world of watches is united, above all, by a passion for ticking objects.
I will not recount the internal struggle to select the pieces or the heated arguments about why they deserve to be awarded, but I will only talk about two of these magnificent pieces. Otherwise, I will never stop writing…
A sporty complication paying tribute to the origins of Reverso – Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph
The chronograph, the epitome of sports watches, finds an unusual interpretation in one of the oldest sports watch designs of all time, the Reverso. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph pays tribute to a design more than 90 years old, with a new movement combining a chronograph with retrograde minutes and a second time display on the reverse dial – the Caliber 860.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph comes in the classic rectangular case available in stainless steel or pink gold. The mirror-polished case measures 49.4 x 29.9mm – a well-proportioned case for my taste. The base interior is decorated with a burst engraving that will grant a nice set of reflections during the flip action. The deep horizontal engravings are part of the signature of this watch.
My favorite feature of the Reverso is its ability to change its face. In this case, the recto dial follows all the details of the Tribute line within the Reverso collection. The front dial elegantly displays the time using the specific aesthetic code: gadroons, “railway” minute track, applied baton hour markers, and faceted dauphine hands. All these details stand out against the sunray dial.
The recto dial
The blue-grayish dial – a shade strongly dependent on the ambient light, is the result of an innovative ADL (Atomic Layer Deposition) process. This process involves the deposition of ultra-thin layers of titanium oxide. As usual, a hand-applied logo is placed above the printed name. The black dial is balanced by golden details, creating a warm feeling. While the sunray substrate is the same as that of the other version, the play of light is more difficult to achieve – but the effect is spectacular.
The Verso dial
The dial is skeletonized, offering a generous glimpse into the new Caliber 860. It displays the same time as the front face, with the same “railway” minute track, applied baton hour markers, and the faceted dauphine hands. The central display also shows the chronograph seconds via a thermally blued hand with a generous counterbalance. Precision reading is ensured by a black opaline track with printed Arabic numerals surrounded on the outside by a circle in the case material, with printed indexes. A semi-circular sub-dial is placed at the bottom of the verso face, indicating the retrograde 30-minute chronograph counter. A small, blued lance hand hovers over the black opaline and silver/gold track bearing the printed numerals and indexes. The beauty of the dial is enhanced by the visible column wheel of the fully integrated chronograph.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Chronograph is powered by the newly designed and developed Caliber 860. This creation combines the recto time display with a chronograph with retrograde minutes and a second time display on the reverse dial. The entire construction answers the question of how to fit circular chronograph time indications into a rectangular case while maintaining the clarity and legibility essential for this sporty complication. In order to display the hours and minutes on both the front and the reverse dials, the movement powers two sets of hands that must move in opposite directions to indicate the time in the correct clockwise direction on both faces of the watch.
Caliber 860 is also unusual from the perspective of the pushers on the “left” side – the entire architecture goes against the classic chronograph layout. The watchmakers had to rethink the effect of the actuator’s length and modify the entire geometry of the chronograph components. The result fits into a case only 5.44mm thick, offering 52 hours of autonomy on a full wind.
There is a time and a place for everything – LAURENT FERRIER Sport Auto 40
Almost a hidden gem in the independent watchmaking landscape, LAURENT FERRIER offers excellence at the highest level. Not only are the brand’s wristwatches an encyclopedic collection of finishes, but they are also presented in subtle packaging worthy of recognition by discerning eyes and collectors. A LAURENT FERRIER watch is not for everyone, but for those who wish to enjoy a daily high dose of Haute Horlogerie in an unassuming package. The watches reflect the life philosophy of their creator, Laurent Ferrier, the son and grandson of watchmakers and a professional racing driver (in 1979, he finished 3rd in Le Mans, behind Paul Newman). This philosophy can be summed up in one simple sentence: “There is a time and a place for everything”.
The case of the LAURENT FERRIER Sport Auto 40 is an already-known recipe for success. An aerodynamically inspired body with a diameter of 41.5mm skillfully blends round curves with arched lines. Like the streamlined chassis of a sports car where beauty meets necessity, the Sport Auto 40 case presents its tonneau-shaped case with a contrasting rounded square bezel and an ultra-comfortable bracelet. The satin brush contrasts with the mirror polish – an introduction to the Haute Horlogerie finishes later found on the movement.
The Sport Auto 40 reflects Mr. Ferrier’s passion for motorsport and is inspired by the Porsche 935 Turbo No. 40 (introduced in 1976 as the racing version of the Porsche 911 Turbo), with a dial in the colors of the legendary racing car. The bright colors remind me of the car’s need for speed spirit. The gradient viridian green dial, with an opaline finish and a semi-glossy lacquer, is decorated with fuchsia transfer printing, forming a cross in the center. An unusual chamfering approach was used for the date aperture at 3 o’clock.
The minute track is transfer-printed in the same shade as the center of the watch. The orange Super-LumiNova on the white gold indexes and hands adds extra character to this new timepiece. Reminiscent of the famous racing car sticker, a tone-on-tone “40” sits proudly on the opaline white small seconds dial at 6 o’clock. It is not immediately visible but will catch your eye whenever you look at the dial.
Caliber LF270.01 – the brand’s second automatic movement – beats inside this beautiful machine. 215 components (including 31 jewels) were decorated, assembled, and adjusted in the LAURENT FERRIER’s workshop, requiring 139 manual finishing operations. The decoration list includes horizontal satin finishes, ruthenium treatment on the bridges, angles softened and finished with gentian wood and diamantine, and mirror-polished surfaces. Several internal angles, a number of zinc-polished surfaces, and numerous satin-brushed and circular-grained finishes add to the value of Caliber LF270.01.
The movement with a Swiss pallet escapement shines in technical specifications as well. The 4Hz (28,800 vibrations per hour) balance spring can run for 72 hours, and it is replenished daily by the micro-rotor with its 950 platinum oscillating weight. It is positioned directly between the main plate and the rotor bridge for optimum stability and maximum winding power.
Why high-end sports watches?
The Reverso was the first wristwatch designed to be worn during sports activities – more specifically polo, where a direct hit could ruin any watch. But not only did Jaeger-LeCoultre survive these sports games in the 30s, it also stood the test of time to become a legend and one of the most recognizable watch designs.
The Sport Auto 40 pays tribute to motorsports and takes inspiration from a certain place and moment in time when the passion for automobiles and watches was at its height. Like the Reverso, the Sport Auto 40 was built to withstand the most difficult conditions.
As in every aspect of life, being the best is a goal, something to strive for… These two pieces were created to fulfill the wishes and the need for excellence of the most demanding collectors.