Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

"When in doubt, add tourbillon." This might have been the mantra for many high-end watch brands since the dawn of the new millennium, and while the tourbillon trend is tired, it is far from being dead... a point proven by the latest pre-SIHH release coming in the shape of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases
An original 1958 Geophysic (left) and the first piece marking the collection's 2014 renaissance.

It was back in 2014 that we went hands-on with the first pieces from the re-launched Geophysic collection, a line of watches based on one of the numerous "sleeping beauties" (i.e., one of many discontinued vintage watch collections) of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Originally produced for a short time in 1958 and revived in 2014, the Geophysic has received a lot of love from the brand as we saw this vintage-inspired, classical-looking, elegant collection expand. The latest addition to it is called the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time and it is based on the Geophysic Universal Time that you can read more about in our hands-on here.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

This new Geophysic world timer is the first world time watch with a flying tourbillon (who knew there still were permutations of complications not yet exhausted by Swiss brands already?) and the third ever from Jaeger-LeCoultre to feature the manufacture's Gyrolab balance-equipped tourbillon. Just like the Geophysics from the last few years, this piece also has some cool details hidden underneath its heavy platinum dress.

It's a tough choice whether to start with the technical or the aesthetic details, but when we let our hearts decide... it'll have to be the Gyrolab balance. I mean it has "gyro" and "lab" in its name, and that's as nerdy as any major Swiss brand could possibly get!

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

The Gyrolab balance was developed for and debuted in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme LAB from 2007 (it is here where we'll note that many of us in team aBlogtoWatch would love to see more pieces from this bold and high-tech range of Jaeger-Lecoultre watches). This meant a strong start, but we were soon let down by the apparent omission of this JLC-logo-inspired new balance from pretty much all JLC watches made thereafter – mind you, though, the mind-alteringly awesome Reverso Gyrotourbillon (hands-on here) of 2016 also had it. So, the Gyrolab disappeared as quickly as it came and remained tucked away safely in the manufacture all the way until 2015, when the production-made Geophysic True Second and Universal Time finally received this "new" feature.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

You will not be surprised, then, to learn that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time also comes equipped not with a traditional balance wheel, but with a Gyrolab one. Designed to reduce air friction by cutting back considerably on the piece's surface area, this iridium-platinum alloy double fork is now very prominently displayed on the dial-side of the watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

Encapsulated by a lightweight, three-spoke tourbillon bridge on top, the whole tourbillon assembly remains completely exposed from the top thanks to the "flying tourbillon" configuration, where the whole thing is supported only from below. A nice and always appreciated design element is the seconds track that helps one use the cage and its one-minute cycle as a seconds hand of sorts.

Because the tourbillon was positioned at the 4:30 spot on the dial, and especially because it's so massive and requires so much space, Jaeger-LeCoultre did have to fiddle with the world time display quite a bit to make room for it and not compromise functionality. When comparing this to the "original" Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time (the non-tourbillon version), what happened was that the discs carrying the city names and the 24-hour day-night chart got swapped. The city names are now closer to the center of the dial while the rotating 24-hour disc has been moved to the periphery. Notably, JLC had to machine a bit away from the top of the letters in Auckland – sorry, Aucklanders – and if you really want to sound like a true watch snob, you'll mention that cutting into text is still sort of a no-no in high-end watch design.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

Still, there's plenty of eye-candy to distract you with its primary source being the world map that resides in the center section of the dial. It is not easy to tell from official images, but what's new for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time over the previous versions is that the globe is now actually three-dimensional meaning that it has a convex, rounded shape rather than being a flat plane. A more subtle – and also definitely excruciating-to-achieve detail is how the open waters of the map are now covered by self-explanatory, wave-like guilloche decorations. A nice feature, though we wish somehow we could see attention to detail of this caliber in watches a tad more attainable.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time Watch Watch Releases

"The world's first world timer watch with a flying tourbillon, by Jaeger-LeCoultre" – we'll gladly take it as a great kick-off to 2017 and are looking forward to bringing you hands-on images and coverage of this and all other JLC novelties from SIHH in less than two weeks from now! Price for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Tourbillon Universal Time, as is usual when it comes to pre-event releases, is a highly classified Swiss State Secret until the event commences... what we do know for sure is that it'll be exclusively available in a 43.5mm-wide platinum case and limited to 100 pieces in total. jaeger-lecoultre.com

  • BNABOD

    so 2017 has started w the Tutima which is stuck in the 80s and then this where JLC does not seem to know what to do anymore. so let’s break up a nice dial make a giant hole and stick a tourbillon. Maybe time to start creating some actual novelties. just a thought.

    • David Bredan

      Fair point and something we’ve been saying a lot lately – in our last HourTime podcast Ariel and I were discussing how many genuinely new collections we’ve seen from the big brands… That said, the “more novel” releases scarcely ever debut before the event (SIHH/Baselworld/etc) commences so stay tuned.

  • I am torn. On the one hand this looks bad-ass; on the other, it seems to detract from the function. As things stand right now, the TIE fighter balance wheel tips the balance to make this a thumbs up from me!

  • The dial looks as though NORAD is tracking an immense alien starship as it prepares to engulf the Canadian Yukon and Northeastern Asia.

    • DanW94

      It’s already leveled Auckland and crossed it off it’s list.

      • The Reclusive Boogur T. Wang

        And who noted?

  • IanE

    Oh no – I’ve just bought the standard Geophysic Universal Time! [Actually, I’m not that sold on this version – neither, I suspect, would my bank manager be!] It does seem a shame to have a Geophysic without dead-beat/true-beat seconds, but 100 folks doubtless won’t care!

  • MEddie90

    Is this a true world time? Since the city disc is stuck in one position (or at least I presume due to Auckland being cut out) how do you know where your reference time is set? I guess you can still see the correct time throughout the world but without a Cottier system i dont know of the term world time really applies.

    Other than that its a pretty handsome watch in some respects though I’ve always personally preferred my worldtimers to be a little plainer. With all the clutter and text of a city ring the last thing you need is a world map to add to the confusion.

    • I agree, not a pure world timer. It is a fixed city ring. You work out your reference fairly easily, but less simply, by looking at the time and applying it to the ring. So it’s 10:10 on the local time, which corresponds to NY or Bangkok.

      • Bill W

        The whole thing’s orientation is not making sense to me. Maybe when we see some pictures of this from SIHH it will be cleared up.

        • As far as I can tell (and contrary to the Revolution article) the 24hr ring rotates clockwise. However, you are completely right to be confused; as appears common place with pre-launch images, they appear to have digitally rendered the 10:10 position for the hands or the 24hr ring and as a consequence the two do not reconcile!

          • Bill W

            OK, that makes sense, but why then wouldn’t they put London right at 12 (or 6) if the city ring doesn’t rotate? Why an off-centered Tokyo? I think the hour ring is static and the city ring rotates. That’s why the hour ring’s printing is all right side up, top and bottom, and the city ring’s top half is upside down because it rotates. Maybe the lip of the tourbillon is above Auckland instead of cutting into the ring (bad rendering?). Bredan said that the rings’ location was swapped relative to the earlier, non-tourbillon version. That earlier version had the cities on the outside and you could not move them, and the hours rotating on the inside. That’s my theory, but who knows?

          • Pretty sure it’s the hour ring that rotates. That lip is definitely not overhanging the city ring. Not sure why they didn’t put the Tourb at 6 and align GMT to twelve…

          • Bill W

            So Tokyo is forever off-center and “Swiss Made” rotates around the dial? I don’t get why it would run counter-clockwise and I don’t get why Auckland is cut into, but somehow I think the city ring rotates. We’ll just have to wait until SIHH to see what is up with this strange timepiece.

          • You make a good point re Tokyo. It’s either more digital high jinx or we will indeed see the city ring move. I do think that it would be very cool if the tourb rotated with the entire dial excluding the hour ring – and frankly that would be very similar to their sidereal flying orbital tourb.
            However, I think JLC have communicated in their release that the tourbillon is static (placed at 4), and there is a cut-out on the city ring.

          • Bill W

            A tourbillon going around the dial…people would line up to see that.

          • JLC, Breguet, Preziuso, and Claret do this already – it’s very horologically pornographic.

  • SuperStrapper

    Well, I really enjoy the unique look of the tourbillion. And the representation of water is excellent: what is the colour? An enamel? Purposeful or not I love how it darkens as it gets thicker/pools down in the depth of the cut and then almost whites out on the crest of the wave: excellent effect. As usual, the handset and time dial always seem compromised for size on world timers in this style.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    I prefer it without that hole.

  • IG

    The centre of the dial is a mess, but the giant hole in the Pacific Ocean can be prophetic. I prefer the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, cleaner and even has night area indication over the map.

    • Considering ‘tourbillon’ means ‘whirlpool’ in French I would say this is a pretty apt spot for it if you have to plop one on a map.

      • IG

        What is “mushroom cloud” in French?

  • You know what would really rock? If the tourb was orbital and the whole map and city ring rotated.

    • That’s not far removed from what JLC did with the Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication… but that kind of shoot-the-moon (or entire cosmos) imagination has been idled for a while. Last year’s Reverso Tribute Gyrotourbillon was a rare bright spot of innovation, but JLC really needs to do this in the sub-$20,000 price range, not just grand complications. There are still quite a few brilliant offerings from the company at all price levels, but some of the most appealing are survivors from “l’ancien regime” of Jerome Lambert.
      Best,
      Tim

      • Yes, that’s the one I had in mind – but there is not way we will see an orbital flying tourbillon at sub $100k anytime soon.
        But I wouldn’t call innovation rare at JLC – the duometre range has been incredible, not to mention the Hybris Mechanica. Then you have dead seconds at sub $10k. I agree that most off this is from the Lambert regime, but when it takes several years to develop a new complication I am not sure what more could be expected from them right now? It makes sense that they would ride out the spherotourbs, the gyros, the duometre and hit the core models rather than reinvent the wheel every three years.

        • The initial Duometre came out in 2007, and the Hybris series has been running since 2004, so those are the fruits of a different era. …still impressive, but not totally a credit to current management. A deadbeat seconds in this market is one of many; this season, we have seen three new Duometre models released.. the only difference is the color. JLC doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it does need to show some imagination on a yearly basis.

          Stronger bedrock models are needed, and innovation isn’t just about adding complications. Good design is tough to execute, and the “+tourbillon” mentality of this new Geophysic demonstrates how much easier it is to CAD/CAM one’s way to a grand complication than to simply design a winning sports watch.
          Best,
          Tim

          • I think you are overlooking some serious additions to the dual wing concept that have a taken place since 2007 – these are far from lazy add on’s to a base model. And dead seconds is an impressive complication, the fact that more brands are executing it is besides the point.

            Managing a major house is not only about regular novelties, it is about bedrock as you have suggested. Frankly, I think JLC has bedrock that is just as deep and broad as the best of them. But it’s not even bedrock – it’s specifically porous, and as such needs regular attention to maintain – again JLC do this with great skill IMO. Imagination is not exclusively expressed in technology, it can also be expressed in dial design for example.

            It’s easy to become apathetic to new dials or familiar complications, but tell me which of the other big four houses are head and shoulders doing anything differently?

          • I’m pretty deeply invested in JLC emotionally and conventionally, so pardon my pointed opinions here; I speak from love only. I think we agree on the need for more innovation at the level that most enthusiasts can at least aspire to enjoy: steel, sports, contemporary.

            The Geophysics, variations on the few Master Compressors remaining, a few worthy variations on the existing Masters (e.g., Ultra Thin Moon/Black, Calendar Meteorite, Master Control Black) folding the Amvox family, and tribute-heavy Reverso overload have amounted to quite of few years of treading water.

            JLC at 75% of its potential is preferable to 95% of most rivals at full imaginative capacity, but we saw what the brand can do at apex during the 2000s, and it’s hard to accept less when the bar was raised so high for so long.
            Best,
            Tim

          • I’m with you Tim

    • Exactly. As is, the 24 hour are messed up. Some are up, others down. On a fixed ring that would be great but if it spins the should all “point” the same way. Conversely, since the city are fixed, half of them could be printed “right side up”. I can’t believe JLC missed on these details.

      Breguet has a double tourbillon where the entire dial (with the 2 whirlwinds) turns every 12 hours. This JLC could do the revolution once a day.

      • I was wondering about this as well. It seems like an unbelievably big oversight if JLC printed both the cities, and 24 hour rings wrong.

  • Jean-François Moscato

    I very much appreciate the use of color and textures, though it does make for a cluttered dial and poor legibility. I’d be curious to see it with my own eyes.

  • I wish this level of dial detail had been lavished on the standard Universal Time, sans tourbillon…

    While I want to see JLC push limits and broaden its horizons beyond tribute watches, I’m not sure this is how it should be done. It kinda reminds me of the new Grand Mac from McDonalds; more of something familiar, just *much* more. Like the sandwich, it’s not bad if you have a taste for the source material, but there’s nothing really new beyond the degree and scale.

    On the other hand, the tourbillon aperture’s obliteration of the “Pacific Rim” could make for a nice movie tie-in alongside Dr. Strange and Iron Man. And it’s a “Jaeger”- a perfect fit!
    Best,
    Tim

    • Bill W

      Now I’m off to get a Grand Mac and who knows, maybe they’ll still have a few
      Holiday Pies left over… 🙂

      • Oh… I never said they were’t tasty 😉
        Best,
        Tim

  • Forever Great

    Zenith’s Christopher Columbus smacks this watches ass and then tells it to make it coffee before catching a cab.

  • The Reclusive Boogur T. Wang

    Looks like they had it right and then went all “deep dish” tourby on it.

  • Reprobus Marmaritarum

    JLC seem to have lost the plot since Jerome Lambert left. The géophysic was a great, understated watch. The géophysic world timer was a bit of an aberration, but just about believable. This thing is a weird mashup which doesn’t know what it wants to be. If JLC don’t get a grip they will be superseded by more affordable classy marques like Mont-Blanc coming up from below (already eating into Jlc design space) and by more famous marques from above. Leave the polished hunchback designs to Greubel forsey and get on with JLC core of high innovation and functionality!

  • Sevenmack

    A mess of a world timer. A total mess. The two lines of cities make the entire watch illegible. The tourbillon is the least terrible thing about it.

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