The wonderful and sometimes irritating thing about travel and learning is that, on occasion, it requires you to rethink your position on certain things.
While we have to hold fast to certain values and ideals, we should allow ourselves some flexibility as we consider other, perhaps less important, issues and choices.
One such item that falls within the decidedly optional–nay, luxury–category would be the wristwatch. Historically, I’ve advocated for an unadorned stainless steel Rolex or a simple Cartier tank watch. Both classics in their own right: discreet, timeless, and so very suitable for handing down to the next generation.
As it turns out now, there’s another horse in the race. I was recently invited to attend an exhibition celebrating the 90th anniversary of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso wristwatch.
Their boutique in the 8th arrondissement welcomed me, a neophyte in the world of fine timepieces, as well as serious collectors from Paris and abroad, to a viewing of their timepiece collections as well as several informative presentations about the company and its history.
Of course, the whole idea was to sell more watches, but I doubt that JLC will have trouble doing that. I found a consistently tasteful aesthetic–even in their jewel-encrusted models–combined with world-class craftsmanship.
For Old Money Guys and Gals, I especially like the Reverso Classic Monoface. It resembles a Cartier tank watch and is priced in the same range. (New stainless steel models run around $6,000, gold about double that. Prices vary for pre-owned models online.)
I think the JLC is going to slide beneath a shirt cuff of a dress shirt much more easily than the Cartier. Which is one of those critically important things in life to consider.
And it has that clever, patented ‘reverso’ mechanism which allows the case of the watch to flip and hide the time, or reveal it, as you prefer. Always a fun thing to show off…carefully…as the easily impressed will be just that. And those in the know might be a little put off, especially if they already have a Reverso of their own.
I like the fact that JLC isn’t corporate-owned, a rare thing in today’s luxury marketplace. And the slim, almost whispering design of the Reverso models are a refreshing joy to behold.
So when you’ve achieved that goal of financial independence and want to reward yourself with a treat that will last a lifetime (and beyond), consider a Jaeger-LeCoultre wristwatch.
I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
PS: JLC does not offer me any compensation for writing about their products. And I do not accept compensation (product or payment) from any vendor I recommend.
23 thoughts on “Jaeger-LeCoultre – A Wristwatch to Consider”
It is indeed difficult to find a slim, understated wristwatch in today’s world of ostentation. What are your thoughts on Tissot?
Hey Heinz, I’m not familiar with them. But I would second David’s comment on Frederique Constantine. I’ve seen several of their models in a shop window here in Paris. Tasteful and fairly economical in the 800 to 1500 euro price range. – BGT
It is lovely, but for now I’ll continue to enjoy the Cartier tank I bought on your recommendation.
I believe you made a wise investment, Debra, and I hope the watch serves you well for many years to come. I’m honored to have been a part of the decision-making process. Congratulations. I hope you’re well and safe. – BGT
The Cartier tank is the epitome of elegance
At the risk of turning Byron’s column into a watch site my opinion is that a Tissot is a good, dependable watch from a long-standing house but it isn’t a ‘luxury’ watch.
If you’re looking for a slim dress-type watch which is not ostentatious, consider a Frédérique Constant. There are mechanical and quartz models available and they don’t break the bank.
Byron: all I can say is ‘you lucky fish’ to have been invited to that reception. What a great memory.
I thought JLC was part of the Richemont holding. Still, it’s indeed a respected watchmaker which makes its own movements (unlike Cartier, which is a jewelry brand and uses JLC movements). For that reason, in my opinion, the Reverso is a more serious choice than the Cartier Tank.
Below 6.000-7.000$ I wouldn’t buy a watch (except a purely practical one). Beneath that price tag one hardly gets a serious mechanism and the watch won’t hold its purchase value.
As for Heinz-Ulrich’s question, I’d suggest a sleek rectangular Baume & Mercier or Longines. They’re definitely not the real thing, but have a similar elegance to the Reverso/Tank. Personally, with that budget, I’d prefer a modest black Swatch, and spend the rest on a gold coin or two.
Solid insights, Largo. Thank you very much, sir. – BGT
I agree with Largo. For those of us who aspire to OM values, but are still building their nest egg, “stealth wealth” FIRE is a good option. A black Swatch or something similar and invest the rest.
You paint a consistent image of old money, in terms of style characteristics. But these days, the middle class is also adopting those characteristics. The couture brands, nice scents, discreet watches,… If you attend an “exclusive” event now, you might see people who look and act like old money (and might actually have more money too). There are probably more Tanks being sold to new money in authoritarian regimes, than in America and Europe. How does old money deal with this, in your opinion?
My first reaction to the masses joining in on Old Money habits, values, and modes of dress, is “Great!” We have no monopoly on good taste. The more the merrier. I am reluctant to post very often about watches or particular consumer products favored by OMG’s: that’s a small, almost decorative part of the culture. It is important, however, to spend wisely in this regard, too.
The key element is the Core Values. I just hope that, as people are seduced by the style, that they also are exposed to the substance…and embrace that as well. Thanks, George. Good question. – BGT
Thank you for your thoughts. My impression is that many wish to project a certain class, but unfortunately aren’t aware or don’t care about the values. It’s a very superficial culture these days…
Thank you David and Byron for the suggestions!
Th previous respondent is indeed correct that JLC is owned by the Richemont Group; however, it is run as an independent entity, just as Cartier, also Richemont owned, is. The respective histories os the two brands is inextricably linked as early Tanks used JLC movements or, more precisely, LeCoultre movements. Cartier is no less a serious producer of watches but, JLC is regarded as the watchmakers watchmaker having supplied movements to all the great houses in years gone by.
Either is a superb, and elegant, choice; both will slip under a cuff easily, assuming you have the Tank Louie Cartier, which has a case height of 6.6mm, vs. 7.8mm for the Reverso. Both will, with care, last lifetimes.
And, apologies for the typos..autocorrect does me no favours..
Excellent comments. Very correct.
Incidentally, Richemont was founded and is Chaired by the South African Mr. Johann Rupert. I think he holds 51%. In true Old Money fashion, he has done, and continues to do, an enormous amount of good for many people and many causes. They are a very low-key family and it is not beneath him to handle his own baggage even though he owns the jet he flies in. A good egg, all around.
Apologies for going off-topic, but I understand that you’ve moved to Paris with a few suitcases. What’s common practice in furnitured apartments there, regarding beds? I suppose people buy their own mattress? Or a new bed as well? It’s such a personal thing and sleeping comfort is essential. As a yoga practitioner I suppose you’re mindful of this. Is there a sleeping system that you favor (box spring, platform or old-school plywood board)?
Good question, George. Most apartments are rented completely furnished, including beds, dishes, sheets, pillows, furniture, and silverware. Just bring your toothbrush, as they say. The mattress options here seem to be more plentiful and generally of good quality than in the US. There are lighter and just as durable models available. They are quite comfortable. However, we have purchased our own pillows and sheets. I think we’re a little more sensitive and particular when it comes to those. Thanks. – BGT.
Thank you, Byron. Silverware. I’m surprised that’s often included. Sounds a little too personal (if it’s heirloom) and valuable to leave in a rental apartment. Anyway, that’s just my impression.
This conversation reminds me of the time my cousin took me to ‘Smith and Wollensky’s’ in NYC. After dinner, he asked, ‘So what did you think?’ I answered him as honestly as I could – ‘I think the Ponderosa is better.’ He turned so red it was funny. He covered by saying, ‘Don’t worry, the people sitting next to us probably OWN the Ponderosa.’ A large, older gentleman patted me on the back and said, with a big smile, ‘I agree – I can’t tell the difference either!’
I don’t know why I can’t make myself buy a real watch. I really don’t. I tend to prefer a Swatch to this day, probably a used one, if I’m lucky enough find one. If I lose it, I won’t be crushed; if I leave it at the Ponderosa, same deal; plus no one will cut my arm off to get it. I think it adds a nice splash of color to my conservative wardrobe.
Probably the same thinking (thanks OMB) that kept me from buying that fancy Audi I thought I wanted/was ready to buy. As I listed to a friend whine about his multi-thousand-dollar brake job (no kidding), I smiled and held my copy of ‘The Old Money Book’ tight. It’s become a bible of sorts that keeps me on the straight and narrow, enjoying life instead of trying to buy one.
I frequently give this book as a gift. It’s wonderful.
Thank you for sharing your insights, GMD, and the kind words about the book. Good for you. You’ve been honest with yourself about which possessions are important to you and which ones aren’t. The truth is harsh: few luxuries are worth the price, but the ones that are…are worth every penny. Continue to choose wisely. – BGT
*listened to a friend whine. Sorry about the erratum, probably time to upgrade the old laptop, too!
I have read the old money book recently and really appreciate it. I especially liked the rule of the car purchase, 10 % of the you annual income. Do you have a similar idea or rule for a luxury watch? 🙂
I would like to have a stainless steel rolex datejust 36 mm, silver dial. I have looked at it for several years. The problem is I am “only” 35 years old and have saved and invested part of my salary for about 7 years (since I started work after university). Of course I know that it’s stupid thing to purchase an expensive watch like that when you’re not financial independent. (25 % financial independent at the moment).
Should I wait or may it be justified to buy one or two luxury items like this during your way to financial independence?
Many thanks in advance!