Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille

When we talk about watches with moveable cases, there are a few usual suspects.  There is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face 2 Face, the Cartier Basculante, and of course, the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso.  Out of the three, the Reverso has been in production the longest (pipping the Cartier by a year), having debuted on the polo field in 1931.  TBC is going to take a look at the Grande Taille model and find out what the fuss is about.

Photography by Ronald Chew

by The Balance Coq

  • September 28, 2023

Ah, the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso.  An absolute design icon.  Its sleek and elegant rectangular design completes any formal attire.  That has not always been the case though.

The Reverso was thusly named because, way back when Art Deco was cutting edge, polo players needed a watch that could survive a strike from a mallet or the wooden ball at play.  In 1931, René-Alfred Chavot made just such a watch – one that was capable of sliding in its support and be completely turned over, revealing a solid case back.  On paper, this design would protect the watch face from an errant hit.

By letting the case back and movement absorb the kinetic energy instead.

So as it turns out, the gentleman’s watch is the first purpose-built sports watch.  And it is worth noting that the Reverso’s fundamental form has not changed much in ninety-odd years.  It is societal norms that have changed.

Vallée de Joux has had many technical breakthroughs since 1931, fitting the rectangular case with everything from dual-time complications to the groundbreaking Hybris Mechnica Calibre 185, which combines, checks notes, a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, minute repeater and grande date, as well as indications of the synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycles.  (Side note: You could sell all your non-vital organs on the black market and still not afford the Hybris Mechnica’s asking priceTBC checked.)

Let us all calm down, be grateful for all our non-vital organs, and look at something more sober and infinitely affordable.  The Grande Taille we are looking at here today has been discontinued as part of a refresh in 2016.  “Grande Taille” is French for large size, which this is decidedly not, at least not through the lens of modern watch norms.  Also, maybe don’t google Grande Taille. TBC did it, so you did not have to.  Unless you are into that sort of thing.  Again, TBC does not condone kink-shaming.

The case measures 42mm lug-to-lug and 26mm wide, but there is more to the watch than its dimensions would suggest. In the flesh, the Grande Taille wears smaller, like a 40mm dress watch.  There is enough size and heft in the watch to sit assuredly on (almost) any wrist. How well a Reverso sits on your wrist depends on how flat it is.  A big part of the Reverso’s wrist presence comes from the thickness, rounded case sides, and conical lugs. The case dimensions, coupled with the obvious shape and elegance means bigger is not better for a Reverso.

The Grande Taille makes use of every millimetre of dial real estate to flesh out all the Art Deco hallmarks of a “classic” Reverso, replete with a seconds counter at the 6 o’clock position.  There is a smaller rectangle inside the dial, bordered by what can only be described as another railroad track.  This inner rectangle is finished in a subtly shinier silver than the outer rectangle, and it is only noticeable when the light pouring onto the dial is sufficiently bright.  Interestingly, the Grande Taille is one of the first Reverso where the case can pivot at any point of the travel.  In older Reversos, the case has to be dragged right to the end of the case, latch onto a catch before it can be turned.

In the current line-up, the comparatively flamboyant Reverso Tributes and the aptly-named Reverso Classic Medium Small Seconds are the closest replacements for the Grande Taille.  If you are between this and a larger Reverso, go with the Grand Taille (or a Medium if you are only looking at the current line-up).  The size will grow on you.  Squadras (R.I.P.) and larger Reversos would only look good on wrists that can carry off Royal Oak Offshores and 47mm Panerais convincingly (oh we see you skinny-wristed Pam fanboys).

On the whole, Reversos belong in the haloed company of the Speedmaster Professional, the Black Bay 58 and 54 duo, and the Submariner Ref 5513; they are all bona fide strap monsters.  That alone is as good a reason as any to get a Reverso for your collection.

Specifications

BrandJaeger-LeCoultre
ModelReverso Grande Taille Medium Small Seconds
ReferenceRef 270.8.62
Case MaterialStainless steel
Case Dimensions42.2mm x 26.1mm (hello, Golden Ratio!)
Case Height9.5mm
Water Resistance3 ATM
Lug Width19mm
MovementCalibre 822, manual winding
ProductionDiscontinued
WearsSmaller; more like a 40mm round watch

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