As the Artistic Director of Jaeger-LeCoultre since the late 1980s, Janek Deleskiewicz has been involved with the design and development of some of the most iconic modern day Reversos including Reverso Tourbillon, Reverso Répétition Minute, Reverso Septantième, Reverso Duetto, etc., as well as the Master and Atmos ranges. An industrial designer by training, he worked with the Pompidou Centre and later with design firms that were responsible for Citroën cars, Minitel , TGV high-speed trains, Thomson phones, etc., before joining the Swiss watch maker. A keen saxophone player, he spends his weekends and part of his holidays performing with bands around the world. He spoke to MW about the 85 years of Reverso and its future.
JLC is celebrating the 85th anniversary of the Reverso and you have been responsible for many of its iconic iterations. Tell us about your personal experience.
It’s a part of my life. I’ve spent more than 25 years with Jaeger LeCoultre, and Reverso was the starting point. It was in 1991, the 60th anniversary of the Reverso, that I discovered these iconic watches. I worked a lot on their development. The success comes with the evolution of the market and the evolution of the collection and the adaptation of Reverso to the market for ladies and men.
The first development, I realised for this, was to use both the faces. When I discovered these watches they were only using one face and the swivel case was still being used to protect the dial and the glass, something that was not needed in an age when we use strong and resistant material. So I decided to use both the faces. We have since adapted this watch to the way of life of each generation of fans. Despite all the development in the watch industry we still have no competition. If you want two faces on your wrist, you have to buy the Reverso.
How would you say the Reverso has changed over the years?
This watch has changed a lot. The new system, for example, of the decoration of the swivel case, and the new mechanism, offers more possibilities. Each time you turn a Reverso, it’s different. You never know what will happen when you turn it. The secret is to turn it and to reveal something special. When I made and discussed this concept with our marketing team I told them we want to make an unexpected thing on the back. You have to know how to tell a story, because the story is in the picture.
The watch got a new lease of life after you joined the company. How would you say that the watch has evolved during your period in the company?
It’s a very short story but at the same time, it’s a long story. Jaeger-LeCoultre is a very young, old company – very young because it was reborn in 1990 after the crisis involving quartz watches. But the real story had started two centuries ago when the company started making pocket watches. There were many developments since then. In the last 25 years, we have become very important. We started small but now we are global. We have almost 1,200 people working in the factory, and 500 outside.
What is your favourite Reverso from all the ones you have created?
I wear a very simple Reverso, a very thin one with red dials and two hands. It’s very slim and easy to put under my shirt and easy to wear. I discovered this watch on the wrist of Marcus Miller, a jazz bassist at a jazz festival in Istanbul. He has good taste – he was the last bassist of Miles Davis – and he’s a good friend. I love his music, I’m a musician as well. When I saw him with this watch I immediately asked my boss if I can buy the watch.
What would you say is the future of the Reverso?
I think the Reverso will never die because it is more than a watch, more than something to show time. It is like Ray-Ban sunglasses, which was created for air force pilots but went on to become a cult brand around the world.