Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Geophysic 1958: Appealingly Adventurous On The Wrist
Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most diverse manufacturers I know. And this is truly above all thanks to its extensive history and experience in manufacturing movements, movements, and more movements.
In the 1980s, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s wide collection was streamlined into two main collections: the iconic Reverso and the round Master lines. As the new millennium dawned on the watch world, and with it an unprecedented interest in mechanical timepieces, re-editions of past timepieces wiggled their ways back into Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collection, providing flares of nostalgia along with a bit more diversity.
As a whole, these qualitative timepiece re-editions have enriched the brand’s collection and provided the chance for enthusiasts to own a past great outfitted with today’s ultra-reliable technology.
One such timepiece is the Geophysic 1958, which was relatively quietly introduced earlier this year and has just entered the retail market.
I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks with the pink gold version of the new Geophysic 1958, and would like to share my thoughts with you on it.
The 38.5 mm diameter of the Geophysic 1958’s case hits my own sweet spot in terms of watch sizing. With a height of 11.4 mm despite automatic winding, which should generally make a case a tad thicker, it is an incredibly comfortable timepiece to wear. So comfortable, in fact, that it was easy to forget I was even wearing it.
Its ultra-classic looks also fit my lifestyle and personality perfectly. It easily went with most things I wear and projected a calm, timeless appearance (even when I felt anything but).
This is also in part due to the classic, time-only dial, which exudes an ethereal quality of beauty that I particularly enjoy, with its eggshell dial interspersed with four art deco-font numerals and eight gold applied baton markers. The juxtaposition of numerals and markers increases interest in the visuals without clouding them, leaving the dial clean, friendly, and immediately ready for the eye to easily read the displays.
This impression is amplified by the sweep center second hand (rather than using a subsidiary dial to display the seconds).
What truly surprised me about the dial, though, was something I hadn’t anticipated beforehand: the high legibility of this watch even at night thanks to the use of high-luminosity Super-LumiNova on the dagger-shaped hands and the dot markers positioned around the periphery on the flange, which also mark off the hours.
These dot markers are so discreet that they are barely visible in the daytime; I hardly noticed them until it started to get a little darker. They were, in essence, an amazing surprise that one rarely finds on such elegant watches.
Another design element on this dial also provides a bit of dynamism and visual interest: the criss-crossed lines intersecting each other in the middle.
This element doesn’t originate in the original model from 1958, but is new and might symbolize tectonic plates, which was part of the study agenda of the International Geophysical Year (1958) that inspired this watch.
Or it might have been inspired by the lines of latitude and longitude that explorers rely on to figure out where they are. You can retain the thought that appeals to you more, which is one of the great things about the interpretation of art.
Reliable automatic movement
I am a big fan of automatic movements. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes having a manual movement is just the right thing depending on the watch and its circumstances. But in most cases, I do prefer the comfort of an automatic caliber, particularly if I wear the same watch several days in a row.
The movement used inside the original Geophysic model from 1958 was the manually wound 478, a chronometer rated caliber that included hacking seconds, swan-neck fine adjustment, a screw balance and extra shock protection in addition to being encased in a soft iron core to prevent outside magnetism from influencing it.
As I said, modern Caliber 898/1 is automatic, a fact I find adds to its rich value. Additionally, it retains the hacking seconds feature, which makes precision setting possible. This is not something every (or even many) modern watches offer.
The Geophysic 1958 also retains the soft iron inner case for extreme resistance to magnetic fields, which explains the unusual closed case back. In addition to making room for the special case back engraving, this also enhances its use as a tool watch, though I would probably not be inclined to do so with the pink gold model I wore.
Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, Caliber 898 has gone through 1,000 hours of testing to ensure complete reliability. This is a fairly unique process in the watch world, and yet is one more element that goes to show why Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the standouts.
Finally, it is not unimportant to mention that this attractive tribute model is quite limited and so reserved for passionate fans of adventure, geophysical science, and perhaps the brand.
For much more information on the history of the Geophysic model as well as looks to its modern environment, download the iPad app or visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/US/en/luxury-watches/geophysic1958.
Case: 38.5 x 11.4 mm; stainless steel, pink gold, or platinum; water-resistant to 10 bar
Movement: automatic JLC Caliber 898/1, 43 hours power reserve, 4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds
Limitation: 800 pieces in stainless steel; 300 pieces in rose gold, 58 pieces in platinum (available only in JLC boutiques)
Price: stainless steel $9,800; rose gold $20,700; platinum $32,000