In April of this year, while searching through an Antiquorum catalog, we discovered one of the coolest examples of one of the coolest watches of all time – a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso owned by none other than General Douglas MacArthur. We've always known the Reverso to be the choice of several great men, but it was unknown that General MacArthur in particular wore the watch. We knew the MacArthur Reverso would have its fans when it came up for sale, and we were right – it sold for over 87,000 CHF. What we didn't know at the time was that the watch would be purchased by the company that originally made it, and we would have the chance to see it in the metal some months later.
As you can see, the mid-1930s Reverso, retailed Golay Fils & Stahl, features a rich black dial and lacquered monogramming on the case back that reads "D MAC A" – easily one of the coolest uses of a Reverso case back we've come across.
The watch, interestingly, is signed "Jaeger-LeCoultre" and according to JLC archives, was actually one of the first to be signed this way – previously Reversos were signed solely with "LeCoultre."
What is equally interesting about this Reverso is the price for which it sold. Now I know the peanut gallery will say "Oh, JLC bid it up to create value in their brand," but those statements are akin to believing that a movement makes up 100% of the cost of a watch – an example of where a little bit of knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all. Sure, in the past, brands bid on their own watches, but the goal today is never to pay more for anything – and in an auction, it takes two to tango. So, JLC paid 87,500 CHF for this important watch, but that also means someone else was willing to pay just below that – probably 85,000 CHF. And that, to me, is fascinating.
Why? That has to be a record for a vintage Reverso. I don't know that to be true, but it must be – because vintage Reversos, while incredibly important and beautiful, simply never do well at auction. They're small, and there are a lot of 'em out there – relatively speaking. But this result says a lot – no matter who owned the watch – and its encouraging for JLC lovers, certainly.