For those who are unfamiliar with the even-numbered pages, or the significance of 1931: The watch originally developed a tribute to the same name of the year the British Army polo players stationed in India. These service members want a watch that will better withstand the rigors of the movement, and, fortunately, JLC listens to their concerns. The result is considered the world’s first sports watch. Made of steel, which can reverse its protective dial and crystal, with its obvious rectangular wrist binding, the initial back is quick to get the praise of the world watches. In modern times, the more frequently worn clothes look more than playing polo – it has always been a strong follower and is considered one of the most iconic clocks on the market. This is why release tribute works received so much praise: to an original watch is indeed a rare symbol, but fortunately, JLC delivery.
The Tribute to 1931 hosts a variety of characteristics very similar to those of the original piece, as its name would suggest. With a 46.8 mm x 27.4 mm, swiveling, rectangular steel case, the watch is slim in diameter and thickness, but still sits long on the wrist. On the black dial is a rectangular minute ring with aged-looking hour markers, unique to the Reverso collection, applied throughout, with a double mark at the 12 o’clock position. The watch uses aged-looking baton hands to tell the time, and noticeably does not use a seconds hand. Powering the piece is the manually-wound Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 822, a rare ovular-shaped movement developed to accommodate the rectangular shape of the case, and one that features a solid 45-hour power reserve. While it’s been on sale for a few years now, this particular Reverso can be found at various dealers for around $6,500.
Comparing the modern watch to the original, it is evident that Jaeger-LeCoultre — very successfully — set out to develop an honorable tribute to the 1931 icon. From the proportions of the Art Deco reversing case, to the baton hands and hour markers, the modern watch captures the essential elements of the vintage watch. Overall, there are few major aesthetic changes on the contemporary piece compared to its historical predecessor, and I think this speaks volumes to the strict guidelines JLC seems to impose upon itself while it is producing historical re-creations. Perhaps the best example is the restraint the brand showed in not imposing a sapphire caseback onto the reverse side of the case — a feature that, if added, might have seriously damaged the credibility of the piece as a re-edition of an original sports watch.
Of course, there are still some changes, however subtle they may be. As should go without saying, the overall quality of the materials and finishing practices are up to a modern standard. But also worth noting is the reversing mechanism on the modern watch, which is fluid and flawless — a claim that could not have always been made of the original 1931 Reverso case’s mechanism, which was rumored to occasionally get stuck mid-reverse. Some other interesting changes are in the impressive ultra-thin caliber (above) produced by JLC specifically for this piece, along with the very slightly altered “REVERSO” logo that appears more cleanly applied than in vintage examples. The only “major” aesthetic change, if it can even be dubbed this, is in the addition of the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo to the more integrated crown — but I’m sure you will find few, even among the most ardent of vintage-watch purists, who would complain about the world knowing their watch is a Jaeger-LeCoultre.
There is a reason that many watch enthusiasts favor, including myself, the even page for the 1931 is another example of why its popularity still exists. Retro looks, a solid movement, luxury quality, and the historical significance of watches and other models can match, the back is the most admired element of this brand of hardcore fans. Although no longer sports watches are conceived today, even-numbered pages occupy an increasingly important position as the few real icons, this latest iteration solidifies this position for many years.