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REVIEW: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT>>>>>

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Published on 02-10-2010 10:53 AM

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Review of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT
By: John B. Holbrook, II

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Jaeger-LeCoultre has long been considered one of the finest watchmaking houses in all of Switzerland. It is one of the world’s few remaining watch companies that manufactures all the components of its watches in house—the movements, the cases, the dials and even the hands. The legendary manufacturer, like so many of the great Swiss houses, emerged from humble beginnings and changed greatly over the subsequent decades. In 1833, Antoine LeCoultre (son of the watchmaker Jacques LeCoultre) opened a workshop in the town of Le Sentier. Interestingly, the current factory is located only a short distance from this site. In 1925, Antoine’s grandson David LeCoultre decided to merge the company with one owned by Edmond Jaeger, creating what we know today as Jaeger-LeCoultre. Just six years later, the company would create what would become its bestselling model and one of the most famous and prestigious wrist¬watches in the world—the Reverso. In 2006, JLC celebrated the 75th anniversary of the famed Reverso, and the introduction of one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s newest variations on the Reverso theme—the Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT.

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Combining a second time zone complication (also known as a GMT complication) with a chronograph complication has become very popular among watch manufacturers in recent years. It makes sense—the GMT and chronograph are arguably two of the most useful complications that can be added to a watch, beyond the time and date display. Upon first examination of the clean, pure-white dial with silvered guilloché, one might miss the inconspicuous GMT function altogether. The black markers against the white dial provide excellent contrast and legibility. The dial of the Squadra Chronograph GMT has the appearance of a traditional chronograph—black Arabic numerals surround the dial perimeter, with what appears to be three chronograph registers at 3, 6 and 9, as well as a big date complication at 12. However, upon closer examination, one will see that while the registers at 3 and 9 are indeed totalizers (hours and minutes) working in conjunction with the chronograph seconds hand; the register at 6 is actually the second time zone indicator. The small size may strain the eyes, and the watch loses the standard small seconds hand display found on most chronographs, but the design is ingenious. All the watch functions can be controlled by the crown, with the exception of the chronograph controls via pushers found just above and below the crown. It is a simple matter to adjust the second time zone forward or backward in hour intervals — ideal when traveling between time zones. The baton hour and minutes hands are coated with SuperLuminova for enhanced low-light visibility, and the dial is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

The Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT is a bold, masculine watch—it’s constructed with polished stainless steel, and the case has 50-meter water resistance. It also features a stylish black alligator strap between the 20mm case lugs, or a case-matching stainless steel bracelet with double folding clasp.

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Of course, like every Reverso, the Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT features the distinctive rotating inner case that, when reversed, reveals the Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 754 beneath a sapphire crystal display. Even though the case-within-a-case Reverso design makes for a weighty watch head, I found this model’s padded strap quite comfortable on the wrist.

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The Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 754 is a new-generation, mechanical self-winding movement with 296 individual components, 39 jewels, a power reserve of 65 hours (with just one winding barrel) and a balance wheel that vibrates at 28,800 bph. Like most high-end chronograph movements, the Caliber 754 also features column–wheel style control of the chronograph, and the level of decoration and finish work you’d expect from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Vertical Côtes de Genève and blued screws are visible throughout the movement, and the rotor is specially engraved and skeletonized. An advancement in the Caliber 754 is that the rotor is mounted on ceramic rather than stainless steel ball bearings, resulting in a self-winding system that is virtually maintenance-free and requires no lubrication.

Thanks to the impressive combination of a mechanical chronograph, second time zone function, and an always-welcome big date complication, the Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT is the sort of watch many will want to wear every day. The handsome styling of this timepiece is very much in keeping with the traditional Reverso theme that has endured for more than 75 years. At a retail price of just $8,950, the Reverso is among a handful of classic timepieces that makes it possible to express one’s exceptional taste without exceptional means. It’s rare indeed to find a mechanical timepiece of this quality, craftsmanship and horological innovation for less than $10,000. Kudos to Jaeger-LeCoultre for creating a remarkable watch at a remarkable price point.

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Chronograph GMT>>>>>
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