214.3.62 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Métiers ‘Tribute to Ferdinand Hodler’
It’s rather easy to get the idea that many of the larger watchmakers, particularly those under a certain company which starts with ‘Richem’ and ends in ‘onte’, only care about the bottom line. But this Reverso exists to buck the trend. It exists to show that JLC still cares, can still hang with the best, and hasn’t lost the ability to execute absolute art. The caseback of the Reverso has always served as canvas to art: engraving, exhibition, and this enamel are all there for nothing more than sheer delight. But this is a Reverso Métiers ‘Tribute to Ferdinand Hodler’ ref. 214.3.62, a release from five or so years ago in 8 examples that may just be the best looking uncomplicated Reverso ever.
This is one of the rare instances where enameling and watchmaking intersect. Except, unlike almost every watch made, its enameling is on the outside, the case Reverse. This Reverso is so named for Ferdinand Hodler, one of Switzerland’s most respected artists who is well known for his landscapes. In 2018, for the 100th anniversary of Hodler’s passing, JLC recreated three of his landscapes in enamel on the caseback of a Reverso. Each painting was made in 8 examples, 24 watches in total. This landscape has been the most desirable, Lake Thun, just outside Geneva, in symmetric reflection. Each artwork takes one enameller over fifty hours, all painted by hand. No wonder JLC didn’t make these at scale.
But it’s also the most desirable for its dial, which matches the enamel art in a muted teal. Though it might seem stamped from a distance, this is a fine diamond basket-weave guilloché also executed by hand then coated in Grand Feu enamel. There hasn’t been a teal dial like this in a Reverso before or since, and it works rather well. Particularly when contrasted against the warmth of the case, not steel but white gold. JLC’s Métiers Rares was created for projects like this and it’s almost certainly a massive loss leader for Richemont. We, watch enthusiasts, tend to put handcraft in one category: finishing. But JLC has, with a tiny other subset of watchmakers, kept this distinct art form alive, still supporting dial enamel artists, and that’s worth noting. Almost certainly a modern classic, even if it is too early to say.
This example is said to be unused, and it looks not a day on wrist. It comes with its full set, from a well-regarded Shanghai retailer.