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Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

In the early summer of 2015, we sat down with Jaeger-LeCoultre to take a look at something special they wanted to show us. We were not able to take pictures at the time, but we did get some excellent hands-on time with the follow-up models to the “new” Geophysic collection that was introduced by Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2014 (hands-on here). The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic collection has now officially blossomed with a unique personality as well as a unique family of movements which is something not only new for Jaeger-LeCoultre, but represents a new value proposition for watch collectors. The first of the 2015 Geophysic watches is this Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second.

To make a long story short, the new in-house made Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 770 automatic movement has a “true second” complication, which means that even though the movement is mechanical, the second hand “ticks.” This is most traditionally known as a “deadbeat seconds” hands, but since the term “deadbeat” isn’t exactly fancy sounding, Jaeger-LeCoultre chose the more artful sounding name of “True Seconds” for the new movement collection which only begins with the caliber 770.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

There are a few more tricks up the caliber 770 movement’s sleeves aside from the true seconds hand complication, but I wanted to discuss that for a bit. Deadbeat seconds hands are becoming a bit en vogue right now, and it is interesting to consider why. We must begin with the premise that a typical way for people to differentiate quartz movement versus mechanical movement watches is by how the seconds hand operates. A ticking hand is normally the sign of a quartz movement, while a sweeping hand is normally the sign of a mechanical movement. Because there is often a prestige value in owning a mechanical watch, why, then, would someone want a mechanical watch that from a distance (and to the untrained eye) appears to be a quartz movement-based watch?

That is a very good question and I don’t know if I have a complete answer. What I can say is that for dedicated horological enthusiasts there is a distinct appeal and perhaps even mystère to the deadbeat seconds complication. Over the last few years, we have seen the complication featured in a number of timepieces by smaller, mostly independent watch brands, such as Antoine Martin, Gronefeld, De Bethune, and Arnold & Son, often at rather high prices. Now, the deadbeat seconds hand appears to be going a bit more mainstream with most well-known brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre jumping on board and adding their own twist to it. In fact, the “True Second” complication might be the hallmark feature of all Geophysic watches moving forward.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Another interesting feature of the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 770 automatic movement is the use of a new in-house made balance wheel they call the Gyrolab. The balance element of the regulation system isn’t really a wheel at all, but rather, semi-femur shaped with a set of opposing fine regulation screws on each end. This is similar in shape to the in-house balance produced by De Bethune. Less surface area means less air resistance, which translates into less power from the mainspring necessary to move the regulation system. Performance enhancements, though, are in a sense theoretical, and overall movement performance such as accuracy over time and mainspring power reserve are elements which are influenced by a number of factors.

Still, at the end of the day, Jaeger-LeCoultre, as a company that makes their own watch movements and cases, can further add to their portfolio of “exclusive” features by mentioning that Geophysic watches contain their exclusive Gryolab balances. The caliber 770 movement has about 40 hours of power reserve (apparently the True Second system requires a lot of power to push the seconds hand each, well… second, and is it comprised of 270 parts. There is also a new style of automatic rotor over the movement (which is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback), and the rotor is said to be made from a solid piece of gold. My understanding is that the 770 is now a base upon which additional complications may be built. At the same time as announcing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second with the caliber 770 movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre is also introducing the Geophysic Universal Time with the caliber 772 movement that adds a world time disc complication to the mix.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Originally from the late 1950s, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic was meant to be a scientifically-themed watch. When it returned in 2014, it was meant to hearken back to an age of exploration and fine mechanical instruments. A hallmark feature of the original models was the lume points applied off the dial. This signature feature of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic returns with the new collection around the periphery of the dial on the flange ring.

The 2015 Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second and Universal Time watches also get a new handset design which I happen to like a lot. Somewhere between elegant and powerful, the hands are both legible, masculine, and a bit distinctive. Taking the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second’s dial elements together, one really sees a very simple and elegant traditional sports watch. The dial and case will look even better on the bracelet that Jaeger-LeCoultre is reportedly considering as a future option for these watches.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch With New In-House Movement Watch Releases

The broad look of the case features make the 39.6mm wide case size of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second watch feel bigger than you might expect. The case is an easy 11.7mm thick and water resistant to 50 meters. That means the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second is a bit larger than the 38.5mm wide Geophysic 1958 watches from 2014. For 2015, Jaeger-LeCoultre will offer the watches in both 18k pink gold or steel.

A handsome conservative watch with a versatile style, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second might be best classified as one of the best values around for those looking to get a traditional Swiss mechanical watch with a deadbeat seconds complication. It is hard to explain the allure of this feature, but if you wear one for a few minutes you’ll know if it is for you or not. In my opinion, this is a great step in the right direction for the Geophysic collection. Jaeger-LeCoultre initially will offer the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second watch on an alligator strap as the reference Q801 84 20 in steel with a retail price of $9,050 or the Q801 25 20 in 18k pink gold priced at $17,500 . jaeger-lecoultre.com

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  • resonator resonator

    Nice JLC! Love the movement especially. Not a bad value either. Hmmm…. what to sell…

  • SuperStrapper

    I like it. There are a few things that keep me from seeing the ‘usual’ prestige that comes with many JLC offerings: the ‘geophysic true seconds’ text does nothing to help this watch in any regard. Get it of of dial and engrave it into the caseback if they must. I’m sure many would say that this would leave t dial too empty, which I could argue, but both could be appeased if the 3 position date indicator was swapped for a grand date complication in the low centre space of the dial. There is a lovely macro image of the side of the case showing the contrast of the polished and brushed/satinized surfaces, but I would think that a blasted finish that matches the dial would make the watch much more cohesive and special, without adding any additional difficulty or process.

    I prefer white metals and would have no qualms about wearing a caliber of this level in a steel case, I’d like to get my eyes on that. The steel price is interesting.

    I’m on the fence about the idea of a mechanical dead seconds watch, but it doesn’t offend me. I do appreciate they they went with the centre seconds hand instead of a small/sub second so often (poorly) used on ‘dressier’ watches.

    Also, 39.6mm? That makes me want to vomit. I know the Blog is just reporting the facts as provided, but this is a 40mm watch. Splitting hairs like that just further fosters the tedious passive aggressive watch size discussions. “You wear a 40mm watch? I just can’t do it. I usually say that 39.2mm is my max, but I do have a 39.4mm watch that I wear with jeans on the weekend, and pull it off ok”. Ugh.

    • Skeletor

      Maybe it makes you vomit from the dial’s reflection of your face.

  • Lovely grandpa watch.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      I’ll take 2 – one in steel and one in that rosey col(u)r.

      Ya young whippersnapper…;)

  • Atom Bruce McKellar

    Dead seconds are exactly why I hate quartz watches. I would like to see the exact opposite in my mechanical watches — the smoother the sweep of the second hand, the better the calibre. Also, I don’t see what the point is of this watch as it now looks no different than their other dress watch offering, the Master collection! The initial new Geophysic model had its own distinct personality. Now it’s gone — except for a stuttering zombie dead second hand to set it apart. Not good.

    • Andy Farrell

      “the smoother the sweep of the second hand, the better the calibre”

      Would that make the Seiko Spring Drive the ultimate calibre then?

      • IanE

        Quite! I rather wonder if the fashion for deadbeat seconds is a quiet admission that the Japanese have got the Swiss beat (sic) with respect to smoothness! [Just as quartz beat them with respect to accuracy – and shut them up on that].

      • SuperStrapper

        Right behind a Precisionist I guess.

        • Peter Byford

          And the Precisionist is well behind an Accutron 214 & 218
          of 45 years ago.

        • Skeletor

          Right behind a marketing gimmick.

    • iamcalledryan

      Does it stand for nothing that dead beat was a radical innovation long before quartz had been anywhere near an electrical impulse?

      If the ticking is the only thing that separates the mech from the quartz, the battle was won by Quartz with the spring drive as per Andy’s comment below.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Beautiful watch.
    Lovely innards.
    Exquisite craftsmanship.
    Excellent name.
    BUT…, IMO, a giant step backwards in horological technology.

    And full of “pun-tential.”

  • Skeletor

    What’s the accuracy on this? They make marketing words and yet make no mention of a benchmark.

    • Rupert Muller

      I agree, there seem to be too many marketing words here.

      “Less surface area means less air resistance…” I really don’t agree. It highly depends on how the surface is oriented against the direction of movement. Imagine a small platelet that is mounted perpendicular to the swing direction –> tiny surface but huge air drag.

      I really wonder if this design of the Gyrolab balance does really have an advantage. The design might lead to more turbulences compared to a standard balance wheel and therefore an increased isochronism. Probably the air drag difference between a fully wound barrel (high amplitude) and an almost finished power reserve (low amplitude) will influence the isochronism to the negative.
      Future tests might tell the truth…

  • BrJean

    This watch looks like a piece from JLC’s Master Collection. Previous iteration of Geophysic (aka 1958) had more distinctive look. Nice movement though.

  • paco “horlogerbonvivant” canda

    Beautiful! Rolex bring back the “tru-beat” calibre!!!!!!!!

  • iamcalledryan

    Lovely watch, with that brand of understated innovation that JLC does so well. The Tie Fighter balance wheel, the dead beat without the need to advertise “it’s a mechanical!” on the front, and the simplest of dials – I dare them to remove the date window! This one is on my list.

  • funNactive

    Deadbeat seconds: Luxury sweeps – batteries tick (IMO) – I want to watch a smooth sweeping second hand – I’d rather have other complications.

  • egznyc

    This is a great looking watch. Call it camouflaged luxury as the masses may well assume it’s quartz (if they even care). But I don’t wear a watch to impress others; I want it to have meaning to me. That said, I’m not at all sure I’d want this “complication.”

    Just a couple of minor gripes. Why does a deadbeat seconds hand use up so much power and hence only a 40 hour reserve, while on a Quartz watch the deadbeat seconds hand is to use less energy and preserve battery power? Also, I’d hardly refer to this as a “traditional sports watch” – this seems much more dressy to me.

  • Ulysses31

    A decent-looker, but I am a little baffled by the point of the dead-beat seconds complication. I prefer a smooth sweep and if market research is anything to go by, most watch enthusiasts do too, which is why we have such things as Bulova’s Precisionist and Seiko Spring-Drive. Couple that with the poor power reserve and it makes this quartz-emulating movement pointless. If you want a stylish watch that ticks every second and with brilliant craftsmanship, Seiko has you covered already.

    • Akiko Atsumi

      agreed! if you want a watch that is accurate, ticks, and is a “stealth watch” why not just get a seiko.

      why buy a $9K watch that look performs like a $30 seiko, or vice versa.

      • Ulysses31

        Oh hey, look who’s back.

  • smoothsweeper

    My understanding of the vintage geophysic line was that it was meant to be the ultimate timekeeper. They crammed the best tech they could into that watch to ensure the most robust timekeeping possible. They seem to have abandoned that goal with the geophysic revival and this is a huge disappointment. I’m not even sure what the point of this watch is supposed to be. I would have loved to see JLC use the Geophysic as a platform for their latest and greatest technical optimizations – new materials, anti-magnetic, etc…

    Instead they offer deadbeat seconds. IANAW (I am not a watchmaker), but deadbeat seconds seem like a gimmick (and certainly not a “complication”). One of the principal benefits of high-beat movements is that each period of the balance represents a smaller unit of time – hence lessening the deviation caused by a disruptive impact. So basically they’ve reduced the power reserve and the accuracy for the sake of product differentiation.

    I love the way this watch looks, but no way would I buy one.

    • iamcalledryan

      With a name like yours I would expect you not to be a fan!

      The deadbeat is what I would describe as a technical complication – so similar to fusee/tourbillon/remontoire – they are technically more complicated than a basic movement and hark back to the days when these things were vital and innovative. Imagine the days before quartz and even 100 years before the first chronograph – George Graham, the legend, perfected this complication and it adorned the very best observatory chronometers. It was revolutionary to observe the actual second in motion – today it’s just “meh”!

      Regarding your comments on the balance. The way a deadbeat works does not require any interference with the rate of the balance wheel over and above a regular gear train. It is a similar principle to the remontoire, which actually does a better job of distributing constant force than a regular transmission. So the balance wheel runs at the same hz of a non dead-beat watch, and if anything enjoys even better isochronism.

  • Ditch the dead beat seconds, shave of 2K and that’s it..You’re welcome J

  • outremer

    One thing is sure, in steel, this is the ultimate stealth-wealth watch:D

  • GalaxyGuy

    I picked this one of these beauties up today in ss. For me, the quality of the movement, the finishing on the watch, the eccentricity of the dead beat complication (yes, smoothsweeper, it is a complication, your opinion notwithstanding), and the stealthiness of the watch combine to make this one of the most appealing watches that I’ve seen in years. I also own a spring drive watch, so perhaps I will wear them on alternating days. Regardless, though, I applaud JLC for the sheer bravery that it must have taken to produce a watch like this in light of the comments posted here and on other watch blogs. I guess it takes a true WIS to like something like this.

  • In not one of the pictures is the seconds hand lined up perfectly with the minute markers on the dial. Even in the pics on JLC’s site, and in the promotional video, the seconds hand do not hit the markers perfectly. It’s an interesting complication to be sure, but kind of loses something in the “precision” department if they can’t get the seconds hand to hit dead on the markers on a ten thousand dollar watch. I’ll take the Geophysic 1958 with cross-hair dial in its stead, thanks.

  • Akiko Atsumi

    Seiko has a watch just like this…. tick tick tick

  • Alexander Stefanov

    wish it was 37mm but I’m still buying a steel one, fantastic value for money BTW, was going for another GS but i think this JLC is just amazing- Patek take note

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