On Nov. 3, Surface hosted the 57th installment of our Design Dialogues series in partnership with Jaeger-LeCoultre to celebrate the heritage Swiss horology brand’s newly opened Reverso 1931 Cafe on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—and the 90th anniversary of its namesake timepiece. This edition, moderated by Surface senior editor Ryan Waddoups, featured Stephen Harrison, the chief curator of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, lettering artist Alex Trochut, and perceptual artist Michael Murphy.
The conversation celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Reverso timepiece, a hallmark of Art Deco design and the main focus of the Reverso 1931 Cafe. Harrison, author of “The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s” and curator of Jazz Age exhibitions at the Cooper Hewitt and the Cleveland Museum of Art, explained why the Reverso was so crucial to Machine Age horology, design, and art through the lens of the New York and Paris World’s Fairs and Gerald Murphy’s 1925 painting Watch. “The Reverso is an iconic example of Machine Age design, which means that it really took its inspiration from technology and machinery from that era,” he said. “I knew the Reverso as a work of art—I had no idea whether it even worked as a timepiece!”
After the audience refreshed their memory about the Reverso’s historical significance, the conversation pivoted to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Made of Makers program, which invites world-class artists to collaborate with the brand’s expert artisans to explore the connections between the creative industries and horology.