How Did Jaeger-LeCoultre Reinvent its Past? A Tribute to the Geophysic

By Alex Lam

The Geophysic 1958 in 18-karat pink gold will be made in a limited edition of 300 pieces.

The Geophysic 1958 in 18-karat pink gold will be made in a limited edition of 300 pieces.

The watch world is no stranger to trends, and one trend that has perhaps become most prevalent in recent years is the tribute watch.  The tribute watch is a simple concept in theory, but tricky to execute in reality.  Given this, Jaeger-LeCoultre is among the best at crafting these tribute timepieces.  Last week, the brand unveiled its latest such watch — digging into its archives to produce an updated version of its once-famed Geophysic.

Dubbed the Geophysic 1958 for the International Geophysical Year and the year the original Geophysic was introduced, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s newest tribute watch possesses a simplicity and refinement that is at once both very vintage and very new.

The platinum version - created in 58 pieces at $32,000 each -- will be sold only in the brand's boutiques.

The platinum version – created in 58 pieces at $32,000 each — will be sold only in the brand’s boutiques.

Aesthetically the new Geophysic 1958 is very similar to the original, and this is a good thing.  The larger sword hands provide the Geophysic 1958 with its vintage-inspired feel and pays tribute to its predecessor.  At 38.5 millimeters and 11.4 millimeters thick the new Geophysic 1958 is proportioned well, avoiding aging itself by becoming too small or garish, or by becoming too big.  It is easy to imagine any model of this watch dressed down on a different strap or easily sliding under a cuff for a formal event.  It is this versatility that also makes the new Geophysic 1958 attractive.  That, plus the great historic stories that have been attributed to the Geophysic such as tales of the USS Nautilus, or the first men to reach the North Pole wearing this watch.

In fact, the original Geophysic was a symbol of reliability and precision- designed for all endeavors that one might encounter in a year where a concerted effort was made to explore the uncharted reaches of the Earth.  The caliber utilized in the original Geophysic was the 4788BWSbr, a derivative of a movement placed in military watches, and had a number of practical features including a glucydur balance with shock absorbers to compensate for temperature fluctuations and external shocks.  A soft iron inner case was also a major feature, protecting the watch from magnetic fields up to 600 gauss.

The Geophysic 1958 houses the Calibre 898/1  equipped with stop seconds for time setting, micrometric adjustable balance, Spyr gears, and automatic winding that requires no lubrication.

The Geophysic 1958 houses the Calibre 898/1 equipped with stop seconds for time setting, micrometric adjustable balance, Spyr gears, and automatic winding that requires no lubrication.

Today’s update brings new technologies to the table to further enhance the Geophysic in the same spirit that it was originally created.  Thus, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Calibre 898/1 was selected for these new models thanks to its multitude of features. It is equipped with stop seconds for time setting, micrometric adjustable balance, Spyr gears, and automatic winding that requires no lubrication — amongst other improvements.  The Geophysic is rated for 100 meters of water-resistance and is held to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s strict-standard 1000-hour control tests.

The new watch is being offered in three models: steel, rose gold, and platinum.  All three will be a numbered, limited run with 800 being made in steel, 300 in rose gold and 58 in platinum. The watches are due out in summer and are priced at $9,800 (steel), $20,800 (rose gold), and $32,000 (platinum).  Nice prices for a watch that is a well made, respectful tribute to the legendary original while still being fresh and updated.

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