Reverse engineering?

You could argue that many of the complications you find on watches might well be more accurately described as gimmicks, as basically a watch is a tool to indicate the time – period.  What with all the added functionality, boosted by the huge advance in electronics, quartz and all those amazing modules, it’s hardly surprising.

Rotary Gents Evolution - reversing model

Rotary Gents Evolution – reversing model

But there are more fundamental “gimmicks” around and one such complication has fascinated buyers for years – and that’s the reversing watch.

Why on earth would you need such a thing?  Well Jaeger LeCoutre of course pioneered the Reverso and not as a gimmick at all, but as a solution to a sports problem.  Namely to protect the watch face glass against breakage whilst the wearer played Polo.  The watch basically could be turned mechanically within a frame so the dial was hidden underneath with the watch back facing the front and suitably engraved for example.  In essence it looked more like a bracelet than a watch.  It did however serve it’s purpose perfectly.

Day face and neat on the wrist.

Day face and neat on the wrist.

The introduction of two watch faces however was the point when that practical solution evolved into gimmickry and fashion, instead of the original purpose of protection.  It became quite popular of course, the rationale being a watch face for day and another for the evening – and very stylish too.  Possibly cheaper in fact to have two watches, but it is a complication nevertheless has proved very popular.

Others have tried similar ideas not as protection of course, but as a fashion, function gimmick, which has a certain attraction.

Reverse "evening" face

Reverse “evening” face

The Rotary Evolution EGS0007-TZ2-19-06 reversing model appears to manage a passable reversing action and sports two different dial layouts.

I could see me using one in a day capacity as it has the Date window @6 and the other dial with the seconds sub-dial as my evening wear watch, so to speak.

However this model appeared some time ago and now seems to be discontinued, though the reasons are unclear.  I’ve seen reports from buyers on Amazon that quite a few models sold had issues with one or other of the movements, for there are two separate ones in each watch and one or the other didn’t work.  Apparently this was because the batteries were out of date and owing to the less than sensible watch design, required a return to Rotary for any possibility of replacement.

Rotary Evolution model EGS0007-TZ2-19-06

Rotary Evolution model EGS0007-TZ2-19-06 (note the bezel screws on one face only)

And this is one of the main drawbacks of this two face reversing format – how to replace the battery or batteries?   There is no watch back, but instead there are two fronts, so the only access to the inner workings appears to be from the front.  (I thought initially that perhaps there was a side sliding access hatch, but seemingly not).   So to expect an owner to somehow and without damage, remove the bezel, sapphire crystal and the dial assembly to get to the battery is simply unrealistic.  Now OK Rotary operate a Lifetime Guarantee, but the hassle is something that most of us would rather avoid.

I note that access may be via one front only – the one with the seconds sub-dial, as it appears to have real bezel screws, where the other may be decorative only.  Even if you managed NOT to damage that high gloss finish, I can also foresee possible problems with the crown stems!

And the most annoying thing is, I like this model as it looks really good and the You Tube video showing the reversing procedure also looks great, so disappointing to say the least.  I also note they have some current models, but sadly they appear quite bland against this one and generate no interest in me whatsoever.   Perhaps this model was a case of a less than perfect design – almost right, but with a basic flaw – battery access.

So going by appearance it should be a rather clever and intriguing model, but unfortunately it seems to be the “reverse”!


Now a reversing watch with a different agenda so to speak – this is the Xemex Offroad Cronus Reversible Chronograph Watch 501.03 – where the reverse face is not another watch dial as such (and let’s face it what do you really need two watch faces?) but in fact a stopwatch.
The watch features a 60-minute dial for day-to-day use, while the other reverse side offers a proper stopwatch with both sixty-second and thirty-minute timers.

Xemex Chronos reversing Chronograph

Xemex Chronos reversing Chronograph

Lovely little articulated lug stainless steel case at 37mm diameter with a rubber “reversible” 18mm wide strap.  A single ETA Swiss quartz movement with Date and Chronograph functions and Sapphire crystal.  The black dial on one side has the standard watch function with Date and fully lumed hands.  The white reverse dial is pure chronograph and such a brilliantly simple idea to put the chronograph indications on the reverse and allow a large stopwatch style dial to be utilized.  Easy to use and easy to read instead of those more common hard to make out sub dials.

The chronograph "reversed" side for excellent clarity.

The chronograph “reversed” side for excellent clarity.

For me it’s the relative simplicity of this model that’s interesting and 3 points stand out –

1) No need for any fancy reversing mechanism as the watch is simply worn upside down to use the full stopwatch chronograph.  Super simple!
2) Being mechanical there is of course no requirement for battery changes and so on.   The only reason for internal access is servicing – and that I would leave to Xemex anyway.
3) The chronograph pushers/controls are on the left side and out of the way, when wearing the watch on the normal time side as they are not needed.  When inverted/reversed to the chronograph dial however, they are now on the right and perfectly placed to use.  Another so simple but cleverly thought out feature.

I already have a Xemex XE 5000 and have been delighted by it over a number of years now.  Great value, excellent quality and timekeeping and the articulate lugs means absolute wrist comfort too, so it bodes well for this model.

The only question for me is – Do I actually need a chronograph?  The answer sadly is no – as I can’t actually remember the last time I used the chronograph functions on any of my watch collection, but if I did I think this model would definitely be on my short list.

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