At Watches and Wonders 2023 Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated the Golden Ratio, as a common denominator for harmony shared by the natural world and man-made masterpieces – a proportion that humans instinctively find to be the most aesthetically pleasing. Both the booth and the new timepieces were dedicated to this mystical number represented by the letter φ (Phi).
I love balance and good proportions, both literally and figuratively. I tend to be attracted to things which are balanced and harmonious, be it art, design, gastronomy, scents or fashion – I find these objects comforting and calming. Maybe it explains why the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso timepieces have been on my radar for quite a few years now…
The golden ratio – also known as the divine proportion, the golden mean, or the golden section – is a mathematical ratio that is commonly found in nature and is often used in art, architecture, and design. It is signed by the Greek letter phi (φ) and the value of phi is approximately 1.618033988749895.
The golden ratio is found in many natural phenomena, such as the spiral pattern of seashells, the branching of trees or the proportions of the human body. It is also used in many man-made creations, such as buildings, paintings, and sculptures, to create a sense of balance, harmony, and beauty.
Two quantities are in the golden ratio (phi) if the ratio of the greater (a) to the smaller (b) equals to the ratio of their sum (a+b) to the larger (a). Phi = a/b = (a+b)/a.
The earliest known mention of the golden ratio dates back to the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid around 300 BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans used the golden ratio extensively in art and architecture, for example at the Parthenon in Athens. Some of the pyramids in ancient Egypt, like the Great Pyramid of Giza exhibit the golden ratio according to various pyramidologists.
In the Middle Ages, the golden ratio was still used in art and architecture, but its importance declined with the rise of the Gothic style, which placed less emphasis on perfect proportion.
The Renaissance saw a renewed interest in the perfected ratio, as people sought to recreate the harmony and balance of ancient Greek and Roman art. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, used the golden ratio extensively in his artwork and studies of human anatomy.
In the 20th century, the golden ratio became the subject of much debate, with some scientists and mathematicians claiming that its significance had been overstated. Despite this, it continues to be used in many forms today, with artists and designers considering it to be a key element of aesthetic harmony and beauty.
Jaeger-LeCoultre and the golden ratio
In watchmaking, Jaeger-LeCoultre loves to follow this principle. Created in 1931 at the height of the Art Deco artistic movement, the original design of Reverso was governed by the Golden Ratio.
The idea behind creating the first Reverso was to make a watch that could withstand the harshness and hits of the British Army’s polo grounds in India in the early 30s. Jacques-David LeCoultre and French designer René-Alfred Chauvot patented the invention of a ‘wristwatch which can slide on its base and flip over on itself’. The creation was an instant success. Although the other side of the watch was originally intended to be simple with only the mission to protect the watch from physical collisions, soon it became a place for creative and artistic self-expression via engravings and enamel miniatures.
Throughout the years the timepiece has seen many versions in size, movements, complications and designs but it has continued to keep the golden height-to-width ratio.
The new timepieces, the design of the Jaeger-LeCoultre booth and the latest collaboration of the brand all celebrate the divine proportion.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has worked with Nina Métayer since 2021, with the inauguration of the 1931 Café, for which the celebrated pâtissière created a special menu of pastries inspired by Art Deco. Now she interprets the harmony of the golden ratio and the Fibonacci spirals in her latest delicacies.
With their eye-catching forms and evocative names – Spirale de Noisette, Ellipse de Sapin, Étoile de Cassis and Carré au Miel de Forêt – each sweet creation is infused with ingredients from the Vallée de Joux. The flavours and scent of hazelnuts, honey, pine, chestnuts and blackcurrants subtly evoke the natural harmony and beauty that surround Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Swiss Jura mountains.
New Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso timepieces
Reverso Tribute Small Seconds
The new Reverso Tribute Small Seconds debuted at the event with sunray-brushed dials in four variations, powered by the manually wound mechanical movement, the Calibre 822.
The redesigned pink gold case model has a black dial – paying homage to the black dials of the original 1931 Reverso. The black and burgundy dials are paired with Fagliano Collection straps in complementary colours – one strap in the signature canvas-and-calf combination and the other in full calf leather.
The silver dial is paired with a Fagliano canvas-and-calf strap and an additional black alligator strap.
The Argentinian Casa Fagliano is internationally recognised for producing the most exclusive polo and equestrian boots in the world since 1892. Their artisans have come together with Jaeger leCoultre in 2011 and they hand-craft watch straps (made from a selection of the finest pieces of cordovan leather) for some Reverso models.
Reverso Tribute Chronograph
This novelty combines the sporting complication, the chronograph with the signature Reverso design, both in steel and pink gold. It has the new Calibre 860, entirely designed, produced and assembled within the Manufacture – a chronograph with retrograde minutes and a second time display on the reverse dial. It is a column wheel chronograph with a horizontal clutch (instead of a vertical clutch) to reduce the overall thickness of the movement.
Its dial layout has a large chronograph seconds display in the upper part complemented by a retrograde 30-minute indicator on an arc at the base of the dial. Of course the chronograph mechanism is decorated by the Grande Maison’s standard. The dial is entirely skeletonised, the bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève and the chronograph seconds and minute tracks are highlighted in black to maximise legibility. Tiny details like the blue screws are matched by the blue of the chronograph hands.
The two straps are offered with each watch, including an interchangeable buckle for easy strap changes. In canvas-and-leather and all-leather options, the straps are designed by Casa Fagliano.
Reverso One Precious Colours
This year Jaeger-LeCoultre presents a new expression of the Reverso’s feminine side. Offered in two eye-catching colour variations, the Reverso One Precious Colours features a richly decorated case that pays tribute to the Art Deco style and to the talented artisans of the in-house Métiers Rares® atelier.
On one side the Reverso One Precious Colours has a white mother-of-pearl dial contrasting with the vivid colours of its enamelled frame and the sparkle of the diamond-set gadroons and lugs. The other side of the timepiece showcases shades of blue with black on a pink-gold background and tones of green on a white gold background. The patterns are executed in miniature-painted grand feu enamel with diamond-set accents.
After the colour layers are completed, more layers of transparent fondant are applied. Known as the Geneva technique, this final coating preserves the colours and enhances the sense of depth. It creates a very durable surface with the perfectly smooth finish of glass.
The exceptional aesthetics is complemented by the mechanical sophistication of the in-house Calibre 846.
Photo credits: Jaeger-LeCoultre. Loupiosity.com
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