By Rebecca Doulton
The brilliant and tormented Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh died 125 years ago, with commemorations being staged this year, including a very special Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch. Created in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Reverso à Eclipse watch, with the artist’s unforgettable Sunflowers decorating the dial, is a limited edition of five.
Painted in 1899, just one year before his death, the original Sunflowers oil painting belongs to a series of still-life sunflowers created by van Gogh to impress fellow painter Gauguin, proving that it was possible to construct powerful images with variations of a single colour.
The painting has been faithfully replicated on the dial of the Reverso à Eclipse by the expert hand of an artist specialising in miniature enamel painting. On a par with its formidable horological credentials, Jaeger-LeCoultre has invested a great deal in the preservation of decorative arts, and has even invented techniques that are now widely used in the miniature realm of watchmaking, such as the art of snow-setting.
On first inspection, the Reverso à Eclipse has the sleek Art Deco profile of the original Reverso. However, this new Jaeger-LeCoultre watch is equipped with an “Open Sesame” function that affords the wearer three different views of the hand-painted dial. By turning the wheel at 2 o’clock, a magical transformation occurs and the shutters covering the dial open up to reveal a beautiful miniature enamel work of art.
The Reverso à Eclipse made its debut in 2006 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the original swivel watch, and its intriguing game of “now you see it, now you don’t” proved an ideal canvas for the Famous Nudes series, with reproductions of works by Renoir, Klimt, Botticelli, Ingres and even a scene from the Kama Sutra. It still functions just like a Reverso, with a swivel case, but in this version the art is on the dial as opposed to the caseback, which has been the traditional canvas for artworks and engravings.
The Van Gogh Sunflowers watch is presented in a warm rose gold case and equipped with JLC calibre 849, an ultra-thin movement just 1.85mm thick with a 35-hour power reserve. The miniature masterpiece can be admired in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but if you have a passion for a particular work of art, don’t forget that Jaeger-LeCoultre has several workshops devoted to personalising timepieces. From engraving and gem-setting to miniature enamel portraits, your wish is their command.