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Five of the best anniversary editions of 2016

Compiled by John Lyon

Despite news of weaker-than-expected sales, the Swiss watchmaking industry had plenty to appreciate in 2016. Looking back while forging ahead, a number of elite brands (including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Tag Heuer, and Zenith) celebrated the anniversaries of some of their most beloved models with contemporary new takes on the iconic looks.

So as we transition into the new year, let's take a look back at five of the watch industry's top anniversary collections of 2016.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Since its introduction in 1931, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso (above) has stood as an icon of modern watchmaking. Over time, however, the range of watches in the line grew a tad unruly.

"Two years ago, we saw that the collection was composed of 53 different cases and five styles of dial," says Daniel Riedo, Jaeger-LeCoultre's chief executive. "It was time to refocus on the codes of the Reverso."

The Geneva-based brand decided to use the occasion of the model's 85th anniversary this year to introduce a new, streamlined Reverso collection that places a greater emphasis on simplification, feminine designs, and personalisation, while highlighting the codes that make the Reverso a masterpiece of art deco design — chiefly, its unique geometric swivelling case, invented, as the story goes, to please an officer of the British Raj who requested a timepiece that could withstand the rigors of polo.

Jaeger-LeCoultre has, by its own description, "clarified" the collection into three distinct "stylistic expressions": Reverso Classic, Reverso Tribute, and Reverso One.

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The Classic collection maintains the original Reverso's ideal proportions that correspond to the golden ratio developed by ancient mathematicians. Available in small, medium, and large sizes, priced in steel at $US4150 (about $A5770); $US8500 (about $A11,800); and $US8850 (about $A12,300), respectively, the Classic model is distinguished by a black-and-white front dial and a plain steel back that lends itself well to engraving.

Two additional models in the collection, the Reverso Classic Large Duo and the Reverso Classic Duetto, each feature secondary dials.

The Tribute series houses the line's three more-complicated offerings: the Reverso Tribute Duo, $US12,200 (about $A16,970) in steel, whose two dials offer multiple looks in one; the Reverso Tribute Calendar, $US25,200 (about $A35,000) in pink gold, a duo-face model whose complete calendar function includes a hammered moon-phase display; and the Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon, around $US297,000 (about $A413,000), a gorgeous openwork biaxial tourbillon.

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Reverso One is dedicated to the ladies. Featuring a slightly elongated case that mimics the style of 1930s case shapes, the line comprises three different styles: the Réédition, $US4900 (about $A6800) in steel, a vintage-inspired miniaturized model with a sleek black dial; the Cordonnet, $US7600 (about $A10,570) in pink gold or steel, which comes on a thin leather cord strap borrowed from a 1936 timepiece; and the Duetto Moon, a more contemporary, double-faced moon-phase model.

The firm also has created a personalisation service dubbed Atelier Reverso that allows customers to choose aesthetic features to distinguish their timepieces from the pack.

"I believe that luxury is more and more about personalisation and exclusivity," Riedo says, "and what is more easy to personalise than the back of the Reverso?" (jaeger-lecoultre.com) - Victoria Gomelsky

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Zenith El Primero Range Rover Special Edition

Western culture was not the only thing in the midst of a revolution in 1969. The year also marked the debut of two genre-defining powerhouses of the luxury marketplace: the Zenith El Primero (the world's first automatic chronograph) — which beats at 36,000 vibrations an hour as opposed to the more conventional 28,800, ensuring greater accuracy — and Land Rover's Range Rover SUV.

Now, 47 years after the introductions of their impressive contributions, the Swiss watchmaker and British marque have teamed up to create the Zenith El Primero Range Rover Special Edition timepiece.

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Taking cues from the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic, the new watch features Graphite Atlas detailing on its grey brush-finished dial.

A rotor engraved with the Zenith and Range Rover names is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, while everything is held together in a lightweight yet remarkably strong ceramised-aluminium case — a nod to the Range Rover's aluminium chassis.

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Each Zenith El Primero Range Rover Special Edition comes with a black diamond-like carbon–coated, triple-folding titanium clasp and a rubber black strap finished with either ivory- or blue-toned perforated calfskin — the same high-quality leather used in Range Rover interiors. Available at select boutiques and retailers, the collaborative chronograph is priced at $US7700 (about $A10,200). (zenith.com) - Alix Moise

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Blancpain Ladybird

In 1956, when Blancpain introduced the Ladybird , the model's miniaturised mechanical movement — the smallest round calibre on the market — was perfectly in line with the trend for dainty, feminine timepieces.

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For the model's 60th anniversary this year, the Swiss watchmaker has created a 60-piece limited edition (pricing not yet announced) around an equally dainty 21.5mm white-gold model dusted with diamonds on the bezel and dial.

A display dedicated to a special artisan version of the Ladybird, with a dial featuring an ornate foliage motif, will greet visitors to the Blancpain booth at Baselworld. (blancpain.com) - Victoria Gomelsky

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Tag Heuer Monza Chronograph

After Niki Lauda won the world championship in Formula 1 racing with Ferrari in 1975, Jack Heuer celebrated the win by designing a chronograph, dubbed "Monza" after the Italian racetrack.

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Now, on the 40th anniversary of that distinctive cushion-shaped timepiece, TAG Heuer has debuted the Heuer Monza Chronograph , $US5200 (about $A7230), which retains the original's logo and font.

Available in a 42mm titanium case coated with titanium carbide, the piece sports a stylish matte-black finish. (tagheuer.com/en-au) - Victoria Gomelsky

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Boutique Edition

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the automatic version of its iconic Memovox alarm watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre has unveiled the Master Memovox Boutique Edition, a contemporary riff on the Memovox Snowdrop from the 1970s that shares its predecessor's luminescent dial, classic double crown, and simple alarm-time indicator disk with a blue sunburst finish.

Housed within a 40mm stainless-steel case, the timepiece's Calibre 956 movement is equipped with a date function and carries a 45-hour power reserve.

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The watch's caseback is engraved with the Master Control logo (indicating that the piece has undergone 1,000 hours of testing), and it comes with a soft deep-blue cotton strap that is lined in calfskin.

Embodying elegance and vintage charm, the Master Memovox Boutique Edition, $US11,700 (about $A16,270) is limited to 500 pieces and available exclusively at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques. (jaeger-lecoultre.com) - Bekah Berge

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