5 of the Best JLC Reverso Alternatives for every budget
James Elliott10 April 2022 | 6 min read
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most respected Swiss watch brands on the market. Since 1833 the brand has been pushing the boundaries of watchmaking, with many unique patents and inventions to its name, including the world’s smallest watch movement.
But for today’s article, we’re looking at a watch that’s captured the admiration of watch fans like no other, the Reverso. The beautifully designed reversible watch dates back to the 1930s but still remains a classic to this day.
The only problem? It’s a pretty expensive piece. That’s why in this article, we’ll look at a range of affordable Reverso alternatives starting at just $140. We’ll compare them for design, specs, and price to help you find the JLC Reverso alternative that’s right for you.
The History of the JLC Reverso – What Makes It So Great?
Inspired by the Latin for “I turn around,” the Reverso came to life in 1931 at the request of a group of polo players who needed a watch that could survive the rough and tumble of a high-stakes polo game.
César de Trey, a watch dealer of the era, took on the task, collaborating with his friend and industry colleague Jacques-David LeCoultre to overcome the challenge. That’s when the Reverso was born, with the duo creating a watch with a swivelling case that protected the glass when polo players headed into battle.
But all this fuss over a swivelling watch? Not quite. The Reverso hasn’t just lasted the test of time because of its reversibility, the watch design itself is considered a classic of art deco.
Over the years, many updates and variations of the JLC Reverso have come and gone, with watch fans across the generations loving the rectangular case, clean and elegant face design, and high-quality JLC finish.
It’s that high quality that drives the cost of a JLC Reverso up into the luxury market, with prices for the smallest, entry-level model starting at $4,500. It’s a price for those who can afford it, with the Reverso a real classic and a piece that true watch fans really enjoy!
5 JLC Reverso Alternatives
Unfortunately, most people don’t have $4,500 to drop on a watch. Luckily there are many JLC Reverso alternatives out there that match the design styles at more reasonable prices.
A point to note, though, none of our alternatives are actually swivelling watches. In truth, the swivel functionality is super rare, and those that try to emulate it at a lower price point end up creating something that’s cheap and often doesn’t really work. That’s why we’re focusing on the design styles alone for these alternatives!
Anyway, enough talking, let’s see some JLC Reverso alternatives.
Our first pick comes from the classic budget timepieces brand Bulova, with their 96B107 model. This piece does a great job of matching the Reverso’s rectangular case shape and clean face design to create a classy all-around dress watch.
The 29mm x 41mm case is a good size for most wrist sizes, with the stainless steel matched nicely against the black leather strap and buckle. On the face itself, you’ve got a mixture of Roman numbers and spear-tip markers, with the spear-tipped baton hands rounding off a classy dial.
There’s a date window at 6 o’clock, 30m of water resistance, and a mineral crystal included with this watch, with the whole thing powered by one of Bulova’s Japanese quartz movements. If you like the look of this JLC Reverso alternative, the good news is that it comes in super cheap at just under $180.
We think that’s an excellent price for a piece that emulates some of the Reverso’s characteristics from a well-respected budget brand.
Next up, we come to another great budget watch brand Seiko. Frequent readers of the Watch & Bullion blog will know we’re big fans of Seiko and their extensive range of high-quality budget-friendly watches.
The SWR049 is no exception, as Seiko pulls together a classy rectangular dress watch that mimics some of the Reverso’s look and feels.
At just 28mm wide, it’s a super-tiny watch that appeals to both men and women who like something small and quaint. On the dial, we see a Roman numeral design with slender hands rounding off a subtle finish.
Like we’ve seen before, the watch matches a steel case with a black leather strap, with the watch also sporting 30m water resistance, a mineral crystal, and a Seiko 4N30 quartz movement.
If you like the look of this super-small dress watch, you’ll be able to pick one up for around $195. It’s a great watch when you consider the under-$200 market, and it’s one we’d recommend if you like the rectangular style of the JLC Reverso.
Our next pick just about qualifies as a JLC Reverso alternative, mimicking the rectangular stylings and some of the gold accents of Reverso models such as the Monoface and the Duetto.
This 31.6 mm x 27 mm piece from Hamilton is a good unisex size, offering gold and brown design stylings alongside a quirky numbered dial and a small seconds hand. It’s quite unusual to see this style from Hamilton, with the brand better known for their field watch pieces, but we’re feeling it as a Reverso alternative.
Hamilton always delivers excellent quality, and this watch is no different. An ETA quartz movement accompanies a sapphire crystal, 50m of water resistance, and a croco-embossed leather strap. All of this comes together in a $695 package, representing a step up to the top of the budget market.
Baume Et Mercier may be a name that’s new to some, but don’t be fooled, these guys have been making luxury watches for a very long time. Dating back to the 1830s, Baume Et Mercier was founded by two brothers, Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume, in the Swiss village of Les Bois.
Since then, they’ve been making excellent watches with the Hampton model not only looking great but emulating some of the JLC Reverso’s style. The 43 mm x 27.5 mm piece combines the stainless steel/leather combo we’ve come to love with the number/marker combination from the JLC’s iconic face design.
We’re stepping it up a level with the specs here, too, as this Swiss-made watch comes with an ETA automatic movement, sapphire crystal, and 50m of water resistance – meaning it can take a knock or two when you’re out and about.
If you like the look of this one, we’re heading to the top end of the mid-market, with this watch coming in at $1,850. For that price, you’re entering the world of Swiss-made automatic watches from a brand that’s steeped in history and guarantees high quality.
And lastly, we finish up with a slightly different alternative courtesy of Cartier. This WSTA0053 model combines the rectangular dial with a super-high-quality finish which is the closest alternative we’ve featured in terms of build specification.
At 41 mm x 31 mm, it’s more tailored to the men’s watch market, with the stainless steel working its way into a steel bracelet rather than a leather strap. The dial itself is very sleek, combining Roman numerals with slender baton hands, accented in electric blue to match a gemstone on the crown.
Inside the case, you’re getting one of Cartier’s handmade Swiss movements (Cartier Calibre 1847 MC) alongside a sapphire crystal, 30m of water resistance, and a date window at 6 o’clock.
This comes together into a $3,950 package, making it around $500 cheaper than the entry-level JLC Reverso. It’s a luxury piece that’s worth the investment if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper, but still a luxury, JLC Reverso alternative.
The JLC Reverso is one of the classic watches from the art deco era. Not only does it look great, but the unique swivelling case means it’s stayed right at the top of the dream watch list for many fans since the 1930s.
But at $4,500, it’s not cheap, but today, we’ve just scratched the surface of the JLC Reverso alternatives available on the market. So whether it’s a Bulova, Seiko, or Baume Et Mercier alternative, there are great models to be had if you want to emulate the great JLC Reverso!
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