When we discuss watches we always think about size firstly. Whether you are into a 36mm Oyster Perpetual or a 47mm Panerai, size is a hot topic that people feel very strongly about (especially when it comes to women and the watches they wear). In my time at HODINKEE, I have come to realize that there are two schools of thought on the ideal watch diameter for a woman: staunchly less than 36mm and a more laissez-faire “you do you” approach. If you have read any of my recent articles, you will know that I fall squarely into the latter category.
Personally, I think that each individual (regardless of gender) is allowed to wear whatever size watch they want without criticism, which is why I wear a 40mm Daytona or a 36mm Day-Date. I have some smaller watches reserved for the evening, but I generally gravitate towards bigger pieces. Maybe it’s because the proportions are more my style or they generally have a cooler look, but I happen to like watches 35mm and up.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself drawn to the watch you see here, the newly released Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Cordonnet. This watch is, by any measure, a small watch. I know I just professed my love for 36mm-plus watches, and I shouldn’t like the tiny Cordonnet, but I do!
The Cordonnet was released earlier this year at SIHH as part of the 85th Anniversary of the Reverso collection. It measures 33.8mm x 16.33mm and is powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s quartz caliber 657. The watch itself is made of 18k rose gold and stainless steel, with a plain pink-gold caseback on the reverse (likely for engraving) and an engraved starburst design on the interior of the steel holster. The watch is fastened with a steel deployant clasp that is connected to a thin black leather cord (aka cordonnet). The beautiful silvered dial has a sunburst pattern and painted Arabic numerals.
So what was the purpose of releasing this watch for the 85th Anniversary of the Reverso? Well, the original design of this watch actually dates back to 1925 when the Duoplan movement was first produced by LeCoultre. Both the size and power of the Duoplan were significant at the time. Most movements of this size were not known for their accuracy, but LeCoultre promised that the Duoplan was both compact and a good timekeeper, allowing it to be used in a range of ladies’ watches of the time, like the Cartier you see above and a similar Jaeger model that served as the inspiration for the Cordonnet we have here. The watches were mechanical (yay! and duh.) and back-wound.
While this watch is beautiful on its own, for me, the historical tie is crucial. Look at the likes of Bulgari and the Serpenti – one of the reasons that watch is still so popular and continues to thrive is because there is historical relevance. The same could even be said about Rolex and well, ALL of its watches. People not only love them because they are well-designed, but also because they are familiar and essentially the same watches that were designed fifty years ago. People love watches with history and a story to tell, and that is exactly what this Jaeger-LeCoultre does.
However, my only gripe is the use of a quartz movement here (do I sound like a broken record yet?). It is clear that Jaeger-LeCoultre has the capabilities to produce a manual-wound movement of this size, and, to further that point, with today’s technologies they probably could make it even more reliable and powerful than the movements in those original tiny watches. So why don’t they? My guess would be they don’t want to spend the money on developing this movement or manufacturing it for products like this, especially when they have had great success selling quartz watches just like this one. But wouldn’t it be something?
So how does this traditional watch translate into the modern-day era? Seamlessly. It can be worn by almost anyone in a casual or dressy setting, and can easily be stacked with other pieces of jewelry (though, be warned, you will scratch the case). It actually looks surprisingly at home with some faded jeans, which is nice since I’m not in the habit of wearing cocktail dresses to the office (for now). Oh, and the retail price? $7,600, which is still steep but a far cry from some of the other prices I have seen slapped on a woman’s watch.
Despite not having a manually-wound movement, overall, I think that this watch is a fresh example of how smaller watches for women might be getting ready for a comeback. But until then, I think I’ll stick with my Daytona.