Jaeger-LeCoultre’s iconic Reverso is one of the most famous wristwatches ever. This elegant Art Deco-inspired classic made its debut in 1931 – surprisingly one of the first dedicated “tool” watches robust enough to withstand the formula of polo – having a reversible cover remains a hallmark to this day. With its two faces and ingenious case design, this watch is not only an undeniable statement of style but also continually inspires the watchmakers, engineers and artists of the rich company. leads to lovely new interpretations, both from a watchmaking and artistic point of view.

In 2023, La Grande Maison presents two new Reverso Tribute watches decorated with miniature enamel replicas of works by Katsushika Hokusai, Japan’s most famous artist of the 19th century: Waterfalls at Ono on the Road Kisokaido ( Kisokaidō Ono no bakufu ) and the Waterfall Where Yoshitsune Washed Horses in Yoshino of Yamato Prefecture ( Washū Yoshino Yoshitsune uma arai no taki ).

Innovative in composition and use of color, Hokusai (c.1760–1849) was a highly productive illustrator, printmaker, and ukiyo-e artist and, throughout his life, used printing techniques Wood carving flourished as a means of reproducing ukiyo-e paintings. Due to Hokusai’s popularity, ukiyo-e prints and woodblock prints became central in shaping Western perceptions of Japanese art. His monumental series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, including The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa. The tour of waterfalls in the provinces marked the first time the subject of falling water was approached in ukiyo-e painting.

Ono’s Reverso Memorial Waterfall depicts a famous site in Nagano Prefecture, on the ancient road connecting the historic capital of Kyoto with the Tokugawa shogunate’s headquarters in Edo (present-day Tokyo). A small Shinto shrine sits on a ledge next to the falls, and on the bridge below it, a group of tourists stand in awe of the force of the falling water. The painting’s composition amplifies this sense of power, with the water plunging vertically between two towering cliffs.

The Reverso Memorial Waterfall at Yoshino depicts a famous Japanese story – an episode from the life of Shogun Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Fleeing from his brother who considered him a traitor for collaborating with Emperor Go-Shirakawa, the general stopped to rest and bathe his favorite horse among the Yoshino mountains. In this powerful graphic composition, the waterfall’s powerful curves express the full force of the water flowing through a deep, tree-lined valley. Evoking the image of a giant hand embracing the earth with outstretched fingers, it is a profound exploration of the relationships between nature, humans and animals.

The miniature paintings on the Reverso case back are made using the Geneva technique, which consists of at least 14 layers of enamel, each layer fired at 800°C before applying the next layer and requires a total of 80 hours work meticulously. Along with the technical achievement of reproducing Hokusai’s original colors (including the graduated bokashi effect) in a completely different medium, the enameller faced the challenge of accurately reproducing every detail with Absolute accuracy, on a scale of approximately 1/10 compared to the original.

The simple and discreet design of the watch’s front dial provides contrast to the complexity of the miniature models. However, this apparent simplicity belies the incredibly complex craftsmanship behind their creations. The backgrounds of both dials are hand-engraved: the Ono Falls motif is a classic barley design, requiring three to four hours of meticulous and precise work. For the Waterfall in Yoshino, the craftsman applied a diamond pattern consisting of no less than 800 passes, each requiring five passes of the lathe (4,000 passes in total).

Pricing for the new Reverso Tribute watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre is available upon request.

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