With this year marking the 90th anniversary of the famed Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch, whose case slides out of the holder and reverses on itself to offer the wearer two sides, the Swiss watch brand unveils a new Reverso Tribute timepiece that embraces the stunning Kirifuri Waterfall originally created by Japanese artist Hokusai and depicted on the Reverso using hand enameling.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is no stranger to Metiers d’Arts, as the brand has a complete Rare Handcrafts department in its atelier in Le Sentier dedicated to the arts, including hand painting, guilloche and engraving, and gemsetting. This watch, though, takes the arts to new heights as it marries the Asian cultures with Swiss watchmaking.
Katsushika Hokusai created some of the most famous works of art in the 1800’s and the Kirifuri Waterfall was a woodblock print made in the early 1830’s. It was one of a series of eight woodblock prints that showcased waterfalls from different regions on Japan’s main island, Honshu. Now, Jaeger-LeCoultre reproduces that stunning work on the reverse side of the Tribute watch.
The miniaturization of the artwork from a large 14-inch print to less than one-tenth of its size to fit on the dial was just one of the challenges inherent in creating this watch. The other was capturing all of the tiny but superb details in perfect scale and breathtaking color. The enameller making this dial also had to emulate the woodblock printing technique for the dial, giving the enamel a completely different look.
The Enamel Work
Dozens of hours of research and experimentation went into the timepiece to ensure the colors and techniques would work. In the end, a special process was developed. The scene was hand painted and fired multiple times in order to build the enamel layers to achieve the necessary depth and dimensions to the 100-meter tall (in real life) waterfall and surrounding foliage and rocks.
The front dial side of the Reverso Tribute is also a stunning work of art in and of itself. Also painted in enamel, the dial side features a meticulous wave pattern accomplished by hand using a 100-year-old lathe. That tedious process is time consuming, as well, and one slip of the hand can destroy a dial. To create this dial, approximately five hours are needed. Once the guilloche work is done, more than eight days are needed to paint the layers of soft sea-green hued translucent enamel.
Finally, the dial is ready to have its hands and markers applied. This is also a time-consuming work, as tiny holes need to be drilled through the surface of the enamel to attach the pieces. At every step, one slip destroys a dial and the work must begin again. The watch is powered by an in-house-made manually wound caliber. Just 10 pieces will be made.
Technical Specifications of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Waterfall Watch
Case: White gold
Dimensions: 45.5 mm x 27.4 mm x 9.73 mm
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 822, manually wound
Functions: Hours, minutes
Power reserve: 42 hours
Dial: Guilloché and Grand Feu enamel
Case back: Grand Feu enamel miniature painting
Water resistance: 3 bar
Strap: Black alligator
Reference: Q39334T2 – Limited edition of 10 pieces