The Jaeger LeCoultre Limited Edition Reverso "Batman Forever" Watch
by Richard Paige
Holy Reverso Batman!!!!!
In my quest to bring to the TimeZone audience more and more interesting examples of limited Edition watches, I stumbled upon a watch that almost defies the commercial aspect of a limited edition watch: The Jaeger LeCoultre Batman Forever Reverso. Only 35 pieces were produced by JLC , 30 in steel and 5 in 18kt Yellow gold, each individually numbered. The original watch was actually a stock production piece: The GrandTaille Reverso with the Batman logo engraved and enameled on the solid case of the watch head.
This unique watch was produced in the mid 1990's, in conjunction with the production and release of the hit movie " Batman Forever", starring Val Kilmer as Batman, and directed by Joel Schumacher. The watch was originally "product placed" in the movie by Jaeger LeCoultre as Batman's personal watch (Val Kilmer), so that the Batman logo could only be seen when Bruce Wayne turned into Batman and "reversed" the watch, revealing the Batman logo.
The interesting story is that the idea for the Limited edition watch was brought to Jaeger by a product placement agency while the movie was already in production. Since Jaeger LeCoultre did not have a licensing agreement with Warner Bros, who produced and distributed the movie, JLC was not allowed to profit from the sale of any of the watches. The arrangement with Warner Bros. was that JLC could produce the watch, but never profit financially from direct sales. Thus the watches were used for various national promotions, as well as auction items at fund raisers and charity events. Also, of the 35 pieces produced, only 13 were actually distributed in the USA. Several of the watches were given as prizes in a National sweepstakes as part of the promotional campaign for the film . You could enter this contest through full page ads in USA Today and People Magazine, by sending in an entry blank answering the question:
JLC Reverso and Batman, 2 living legends together Forever, both created in the same decade: name the decade.
The winners were chosen by a drawing.
The response to these watches was overwhelming, and even today Jaeger gets frequent calls as to the availability of this limited edition series from collectors as well as movie buffs. Of course there are none for sale from JLC, and the exact whereabouts of the watches,once distributed, is virtually unknown (although I have seen one for sale at a prominent auction house a few years back). The only watches that Jaeger is positively aware of are the two in Jaeger's possession that were held back by the company. One of these will always be kept in JLC's permanent collection, which goes on tour each year. Last Christmas, this watch was on display at the Tourneau Time Machine on 57th Street in New York City, as part of Jaeger's traveling exhibition entitled: "Reverso 'Gran Sport. A New Art of Living". The second watch in Jaeger's possession is still a mystery, perhaps it may be auctioned off at some future fund raising event.
Here is the breakdown for the US.
35 Pieces were made, 13 of which were distributed in the U.S.:
US distribution is as follows:
1. 18K Case #1 Val Kilmer, star of the Batman Forever Movie
2. 18K Case #4 Produced for Warner Brothers Museum
3. Stainless Steel Case #1 Joel Schumacher, Director of Batman Forever
4. SS Case #11 Natl. Sweepstakes winner, Emerson Leon Bone
5. SS Case #21 Natl. Sweepstakes winner, Joan D. Meyers
6. SS Case #29 Natl. Sweepstakes winner, Patricia Ann Kerrigan
7. SS Case #14 New York Screening of the Movie(In conjunction with Tourneau)
8. SS Case #6 LA Screening of the Movie (In conjunction with Traditional Jewelers)
9. SS Case #16 Silent Auction to benefit California Special Olympics
10. SS Case #4 Auction to benefit in the fight against AIDS
11. SS Case #10 Carousel Ball 1998, Silent Auction
12. SS Case#26 Jaeger LeCoultre Museum
13. SS Case #27 (J-LC has not decided what will be done with it)
The Batman Forever Reverso has all the right ingredients for a true collectible with high potential for appreciation in value. I remember 2 years ago, one of these was offered to me by one of the National sweepstakes winner for $18,000 ( which I passed on). These watches even have potential to have certain numbers in the edition exceed the value of others. For example I would think that Val Kilmer's 18kt gold case #1, would be the most sought after and hence the most valuable. And probably, Joel Schumacher's, the film's director, would fetch a much higher price than others in steel. The appeal for these limited edition watches is different than for a Limited edition Complication watch, in that the prospective acquirer could be a watch enthusiast, a Jaeger Reverso Collector, a Movie Buff, or just a fanatic Batman memorabilia collector, similar to a Star Trek fan, or a Superman buff.
It must be pointed out that the watch was a stock piece that was customized by the JLC factory engravers. Thus, you could literally reproduce this watch by buying a stock Reverso Steel Grand Taille, which sold for $4250 in the mid 1990's, and have a qualified engraver reproduce the Batman logo and enamel it for under $1,000. But, as a signed Limited edition collectible this watch could be worth 3 to 4 times that value depending on the medium of sale and who owned or wore the watch.
My question is: Where are the 20 or so watches that aren't accounted for?? Who's hoarding them, and will they eventually come up for sale at auction again???
Hope you've enjoyed this article.