Skip to Content
5 min read·May 1, 2020

The Watch With Two Faces: JLC Tribute Duoface Review

Teddy camera
When it comes to refined elegance in watches, it is hard to think of many that reach the level of the Reverso. A timepiece that has become a timeless fixture in the world of horology since its creation in 1931.
Yet after decades of a sustained style and case size, the Reverso in more recent years has adapted to maintain its elegant outward appearance while offering a wearing experience for the modern day gentleman or woman, and today we look at a Reverso that is the perfect embodiment of this idea, with the Reverso Tribute Duoface.
The idea of the duoface was introduced by Jaeger Lecoultre in 1994, a period where many traditional brands were undergoing a level of rebranding following the last couple decades of difficulty brought forth by the quartz crisis. In the years since, it has become a staple in the Reverso collection, and has ultimately become one of the best conversation starters in all of watchmaking in my opinion, as you’ll undoubtedly wow nearly every single person that takes a close look at it, to only wow them further once you show them the trick of flipping it over, displaying a completely separate dial on the back.
The reference we will be looking at today is a personal favorite of mine, with the reference 3988482. The complete spec breakdown: Case Size: 28.3 mm x 47 mm, Case Thickness: 10.3 mm, Lug Width: 20 mm, Water Resistance: 30 m, Crystal Sapphire, and Movement: Manual 854A/2

Wearability

For the Reverso in general,  it is very safe to say that the watch has a particular wearing experience given its one of a kind case design. Yet as a result of this previously mentioned point of the many Reverso models available in JLC’s catalog, there is also a complimentary offering of case dimensions to consider as well. But when it comes to the Reverso Duoface models these cases as perhaps expected, skew to the larger side of the spectrum of Reversos.  On the wrist, this Tribute Duoface with its 47 mm lug-to-lug and thickness slightly over 10 mm wears relatively well on the 6.25 wrist or 15.9 cm.

Despite it perhaps pushing the boundary a bit more than other variants, it still manages to sustain its elegance on the wrist. The case, executed in high polish, has a rounded structure along the sides of the case and a strong slanted profile at the lugs to help form to the wrist and exhibits no strap flaring. In other words, that 47 mm is going to wear true to the measurement, if not smaller. In addition, to match the wearable case architecture noticed from the top of the watch, more can be said on the underside, with the chassis displaying a slight curve for a snug wearing experience.
Between the lugs on the reverso we have a high caliber genuine alligator leather strap with a signed deployant buckle, that is rigid to start but breaks in beautifully and was designed by Casa Fagliano, a well known leather goods manufacturer with an emphasis on Polo boots, so a nice tie in to the watch’s originally intended purpose. However, one point of emphasis for these modern JLC straps and deployant buckles, is their easy to swap system. On the backside, the straps have a more standard quick release bar to switch straps, but what I find even more useful is the ability to swap buckles quickly.  As on the underside you’ll notice an indicator stating push here that allows you to seamlessly release the buckle end of the strap for quick buckle swapping if you want to add your deployant buckle to your other straps.

Design & Dial

Now with this Reverso Duoface, there are several aspects of this watch that really lets this thing shine, and in being a duoface, we have two sides of this watch so with their own unique dial experiences, so let’s get familiar with them and their function. Starting with the front of the watch, we have this lovely sunburst blue dial. This dial style is one you might have seen a bit over the last few years from JLC, as in 2018, JLC introduced the tribute small seconds with a blue dial (non duoface) that has been a standout for me since the day that I saw it, so it great to see this dial layout make its way here to a duoface offering, with this particular watch being introduced in 2019.
The styling of this dial and watch in general has elements where the 1931 original is certainly felt, however, there is a little modern flash as well. Starting with the blue dial surface, executed in a fine sunray brushed style that is one of the more incredible blues I have seen on a dress watch, changing in the light significantly, transitioning to a vivid deep blue when in the shadows - that when is combined with the polished dauphine hands and applied markers, this watch simply shimmers, even under little light. Combining this with the simple railway minute track and the running small seconds at the 6, the dial can probably be best described as strikingly beautiful while remaining classy.
And this theme continues as soon as you begin to flip the watch over as you’ll get a glance of the sunray engraved stainless steel undercarriage, providing a nice sight while going through perhaps one of the most satisfying motions a watch enthusiast can ever experience in flipping the reverso around.
On the flip side, we have a complete contrasting dial in striking silver, with polished dauphine hands and applied polished markers on the center dial, being surrounded by an alluring clou de paris finish, that works incredibly well with bringing the dial to life. This dial side features a central 12 hour display and near the bottom, a small 24 hour dial that can be used as a day night indicator. Now the fact of having essentially a completely different watch is one thing when it comes to the looks department, but it also serves incredibly useful in its function, with this reverse side allowing the user to track an additional timezone. Yet unlike other watches with this ability, instead of even touching the crown, you could just give the Reverso a simple flip. But this watch gets even more added benefit since the watch has the ability to also isolate the hour hand without stopping the balance.
When pulling the watch from the chassis, the hour hand can be independently adjusted with the help of the hidden trigger at the top of the watch’s case. A significant step up in the trigger’s placement compared to other earlier iterations with this function, with those featuring the trigger on the side of the case, which in turn really pulled away from the sleek and dressy appearance of the piece.  But with this Tribute Duoface, JLC has appeared to master this functionality, all while delivering the same stunning hand finishing fans of the brand have come to expect.

Movement

Powering these dials is the 3.8 mm thin JLC 854A/2. This manual caliber is constructed using 160 Components, operates at 3HZ / 21,600 vph, has 19 jewels, has a free-sprung balance, and a power reserve of 42 hours.
In addition, the watch comes marked on the caseback with 1,000 Hours Test stamp, an internal high testing standard done by JLC to ensure the watch’s optimal chronometric performance, resistance to temperature changes and atmospheric pressure, robustness to shocks and magnetic fields, waterproofing tests, and power reserve testing. And for those with any knowledge of JLC’s history know of their great innovations in the world of movement construction, and if you’re not, be rest assured that you are getting a good one here.

Conclusion

Despite my personal belief that buying a watch should be solely driven by your own personal admiration for it, I think it is fun when you can wear a watch that can generate interest or show a side of your personality if the conversation ever does go into that direction. Yet with the rise of digital technology we have now seen an unfortunate rise of superficial boasting where likes and views have become a form of currency. This new norm is sadly felt quite often in the world of watches, with many seeing watches as a way to grab attention.
But as many watches play in the arena of getting quick attention by being in your face, this Reverso Tribute Duoface does the opposite, being a timepiece that exudes class, and instead of grabbing attention, simply keeps it, while appealing to what is most important, the wearer.
And with its elegant and timeless design, great functionality, the watch will be the perfect companion to those looking for the ultimate square dress watch, and a watch that will undoubtedly wow you everytime you look down or flip it over and those that ever ask you the question “What watch is that?”