Time has a cosmic quality to it, the concept itself being so far out of our reach and yet so fundamental to our understanding of the universe. The first timekeepers used the sun, the stars, and the moon to mark the calendar and keep track of the passage of the seasons, an art that was forgotten in favour of the more modern, mechanical means. However, these processes are not separate from one another, and the combination of the two can create some of the most astounding pieces there are. The result of this amalgam is presented now by Jaeger Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Swiss watchmaking House, in the form of the world’s first four-faced wristwatch.
The Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185, distinctly known as the Hybris Mechanica Quadriptyque, is a milestone in the world of haute horlogerie, with four functioning display faces, all portraying different information, with the array of mechanisms, more fit for a desk than a wrist, fitting in the compact 15.15 mm case. With 12 complications, which required 11 patents, the Quadriptyque is the pinnacle of the Reverso series, originally created in 1931 to withstand the rough antics of polo with its reversible case which protected the watch face. The Reverso line has evolved, turning its unique practical uses into an aesthetic advantage. The Quadriptyque now mixes the practical and visual elements, presenting four faces with unique, independent information displays.
The recto face features a floating tourbillon on the 7-position, which compensates gravity’s effect on the watch and ensures a balanced measurement. This balance is the key to the watch’s precision, with the beats amounting to seconds, minutes, hours and even to years, with the recto face displaying a perpetual calendar which is always right, even accounting for leap years and irregular month durations. The date indicator is also instantaneous, changing in a single stroke at midnight, and shines as a new invention by the House, as it was required to accommodate the compact case exigencies.
The second face, the verso face, hides the chiming mechanism, a true statement of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s expertise and patrimony in chiming watches. With over 200 historical models of chiming calibres, the Quadriptyque has a unique cacophony of sounds to represent hours, quarters and minutes with exquisite taste and precision. The verso face displays the striking elements of the watch, along a secondary display that shows the same as the recto face. With unique glass gongs, the Quadriptyque also hides a novel engineering for the chiming components, which allows for uninterrupted ringing from hours to quarters, to minutes, with absolutely no gaps between each ring.
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The interior face of the cradle showcases three displays of lunar information, each presenting a different lunar cycle. The synodic, draconic and anomalistic cycles are each presented in their own way, in a single face of this beautiful wristwatch. The superior part of the face is crowned by a laser-engraved moon which is gradually covered by a lacquer disc, according to the current moon phase, which will be accurate and without the need of an adjustment for the next 1,111 years. The inferior part presents to dials, one featuring the draconic cycle, which indicates when the moon intersects with the Earth’s orbit, indicated by a tiny moon circling around a pink-gold sun. To the right, an enamel Earth is orbited by a moon which marks the current lunar position. This sort of display is a first in horlogerie, keeping up with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s commitment to expand the horizons of watchmaking.
The exterior face, the last one of the four functional faces of the Reverso, a representation of the phases of the moon on the Southern Hemisphere takes centre stage. Dualistic in nature, the Reverso represents an all-encompassing view through the inclusion of the Southern perspective in the watch, as most moon phase depictions take only the Northern Hemisphere into consideration.
The mechanical workings of this watch are infinitely complex, and yet, the most user-friendly to date. The whole watch manages to stay minimum sized with the inclusion of a unique Jaeger-LeCoultre complication which involves a fine needle coming out of the main body at midnight, which activates the workings on the cradle. As to adjusting the watch after a period of being unworn, the box In which the watch comes does it all for the owner. The box features a two-position crown used to set the number of days elapsed since the last time the watch was worn, and the mechanical box does the rest after the crown is set to the second position.
The result of six years of research, the most talented watchmakers in Europe and the dedication of Jaeger-LeCoultre to innovation come together in an exceptional form. The Reverso Hybris Mechanica Calibre 185 is a unique watch ideal for unconventional people, as it itself breaks all conventions on time reckoning, coming back to the basics but complicating the system in a way few can even begin to grasp.