Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Watches like this Geophysic True Second illustrate why Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to be one of the few remaining "watch-lover watchmakers." aBlogtoWatch debuted this new collection of Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second watches here toward the latter part of 2015. I advise those interested in this unique yet conservative mechanical watch to reference that previous article because I take the time to discuss what makes this timepiece particularly noteworthy.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

It was back in 2014 that Jaeger-LeCoultre revived the Geophysic watch collection based on some uncommon models produced in the 1950s known for their use of luminant dots on the sapphire crystal. Vestiges of that design exist today, and on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second watches, you can see points of luminant applied on the outer edge of the ring around the watch dial. This adds a special flavor to what is essentially a classic and conservative design.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Still, there is an enormous amount of "wrist appeal" to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic with its handsome, legible looks and focus on what makes so many traditional-looking watch dials feel timeless in their relevancy. Jaeger-LeCoultre matches a lightly textured matte dial with applied brushed gold or steel hour markers and matching hands. In its stately focus on function and purpose, the dial of the Geophysic with its virtual lack of anything superfluous is actually quite elegant.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

So what is a "True Second?" The marketing minds at Jaeger-LeCoultre have adopted the notion of a "dead seconds" hand into this more presentable title. In short, the in-house made mechanical movement inside of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second has a seconds hand which ticks rather than sweeps. Call it trendy, but watch lovers have become taken by this perhaps ironically attractive complication which, of course, does help mechanical watches look as though they are quartz given the operational movement of the seconds hand.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Upon close inspection, the careful eye will immediately notice that even with its quartz movement-like ticking seconds hand, the operation of this motion is more solid and precise than one will find in the vast majority of quartz movements. The only exceptions are a handful of exotic high-end quartz movements from Seiko such as the 9F family of movements (example here) which are specially designed to ensure that the seconds hand does not "wiggle" each time it moves. The sure-feeling and precise motion of a "ticking" seconds hand in a mechanical dead-beat watch is, for the most part, a superior visual experience than what you'll find in a typical quartz watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

With that said, you can still understand that some watch lovers might be confused at the notion of why to purchase a mechanical watch with a ticking versus sweeping seconds hand. In reality, a ticking seconds hand allows for a more precise ability to count the seconds and read the time. Though, for years, a lot of watch lovers have been "trained" to prefer the elegant sweep of the seconds hand found in most mechanical watches versus the "cheap" ticking of a quartz watch. Understanding that historically speaking, dead-beat seconds hands were less common and actually more complicated than sweeping seconds hands is an important first step in being able to appreciate this feature. To a degree, such style of watches are an acquired taste, but they are clearly interesting enough for a major brand like Jaeger-LeCoultre to develop their own dead-beat seconds family of movements.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Inside the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second is the new Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 770 movement. An automatic operating at 4Hz (28,800 bph), the 770 has a power reserve of about two days and is produced from 270 parts. That is actually quite a few parts more than most other three-hand automatic movements so there is clearly some welcome "over-engineering" going on. Jaeger-LeCoultre wasn't satisfied with just creating a new movement with a dead-beat seconds hand, and the 770 also has a brand new balance wheel which is totally proprietary to Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre calls their new balance wheel "Gyrolab." The new balance wheel structure was designed to have less metal and thus be more aerodynamic that traditional oscillators. I happen to find the tiny balance screws with their square heads to be particularly cool. Through the sapphire crystal caseback window of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second, you can view the movement which for both the steel and gold versions of the watch have a solid gold automatic rotor.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the wrist, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second is a handsome and medium-sized watch at 39.6mm wide. It doesn't wear too small thanks to the 11.7mm thickness of the case and the design of the stocky lugs. The case is water resistant to 50 meters and has a very handsome combination of mostly brushed and some polished surfaces. Fit and finishing is very good, and what you'd expect from a Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In addition to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second, the brand also recently released the Geophysic Universal Time which adds a world-time complication to the mix. I'll go hands-on with that timepiece in a separate article. For now, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second watch is produced both as the reference 8012520 in 18k pink gold as well as the reference 8018420 in steel. The watches are priced at $17,500 and $9,050, respectively. jaeger-lecoultre.com

What do you think?
  • I want it! (11)
  • I love it! (1)
  • Thumbs up (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • OK, it’s not particularly exciting, but its a competently styled dress watch with an extra technical goodie (dead seconds). So while I could complain it’s a lot for an otherwise 3 hander plus date, it is a very nice, if subtle, watch. Still more than I’d like to pay as I have limited need for a dress watch, but there is a lot to admire here (outside of the price). Put it this way, while priced differently, it exists in the same part of the watch universe as a Grand Seiko (and I prefer this JLC to the GS by a mile).

    • benjameshodges

      JLC is in a completely different league to GS. Not even worth comparing.

      • Chaz

        REALLY? Please elaborate. Seriously. I’m curious…

        • benjameshodges

          Does it need elaboration? JLC is much better than Grand Seiko. Credor may offer competition but not Grand Seiko. Overpriced quartz and spring drive watches from a brand that sell watches for less than $100 bears no comparison to a traditional Swiss brand famed for its manufacturing, heritage, movement making and an everlasting model that has spanned 85 years of production and still ranks in top 10 most important and influential watches of all time.

          • SuperStrapper

            Just out of curiosity, what would change in your view if for some zany reason JLC decided to produce a sub-$500 watch. Everything else stays the same.

            I only ask because the fulcrum of your argument seems to be based on the fact that seiko has a division based on affordability, and so their higher-end factions can’t be taken seriously in contrast to other relatable products.

          • benjameshodges

            You just can’t change history. Jaeger have produced unbelievable high complications of all kinds as well as affordable yet well built time only tool watches. Also JLC do second-to-none enamelling, engraving, skeletonisation, they make world’s smallest movement, they make the world’s thinnest movement. The models they’ve produced are varied, unique and inspirational from the Reverso to the Deep Sea Alarm. The Royal Oak and Nautilus owe slot to JLC for the use of their movement and many other brands over the years have used their movements. Each model and it’s elements are manufactured under one roof and the brand stretches back to 1833. Grand Seiko may be on the path to greatness but it’s nowhere near the level that Jaeger-LeCoultre has achieved. Just because Grand Seiko is covered ad nauseum on ABTW does not make them actually grand. Taking the basic design of a Submariner and making it quartz for me does not put them anywhere near JLC. I also own 2 Seiko’s and a Reverso in case you’re interested.

          • SuperStrapper

            Nobody said anything about changing history, but on that point I find it interesting that you are so blatantly overlooking Seiko’s pedigree and history. Your response doesn’t answer my question, but it matters not because you are totally discounting the abilities that Seiko has in many of the same regards simply because they also make affordable watches as well.

            To be clear, I’m no Seiko fanboi or JLC hater, I just prefer arguments to be based on fact and fair data, not just emotional opinion.

            And, for the record, the smallest and the thinnest movements don’t really carry much weight with me, I don’t see them as actual differentiators.

          • cluedog12

            It’s a matter of emotional opinion. Seiko’s narrow focus is just as appealing to some as JLC’s amazing variety. That’s not much of a fact.

            Where Seiko chooses to compete, they execute as well as anyone else. Better perhaps. That’s an opinion.

            Both brands offer vintage style choices to people who take pride in wearing understated luxury watches. Otherwise, they don’t look that similar. That’s a fact mixed with an opinion.

          • iamcalledryan

            I love GS but agree that JLC are an entirely different level. It’s not the entry-level price that does it for me, because Seiko is different to GS and Gs has a similar entry point to JLC. To see Seiko as GS is to see Baume et Mercier as JLC.

            What makes JLC the next level is the extent of their in-house prowess, the insanity of their high horology offerings (not just chiming but Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie; not just tourbillon but Gyrotourbillon), and the sheer scope of their portfolio.

            JLC is the only brand I can think of that if I had to, really had to, choose one brand to wear forever, it would be them. Even though I give them a 9/10 for overall quality and excellence, they beat the 10/10’s at range. They have great modern and vintage divers, modern and vintage dress, tool watches, women’s watches, Reverso’s and the high complications, experimental tech and traditional tech.

            I adore the GS Spring Drive on the snowflake but that is literally the only watch I need from them right now.

          • Beefalope

            I own a Reverso, as well. I like JLC a lot. I also own two Grand Seikos, and I can tell you that a comparably priced Grand Seiko yields nothing to a Reverso. The movement finishing is roughly equal, the case finishing is better on a Grand Seiko and the dial finishing is miles better on a GS than a JLC.

          • Jamie McKay

            I’m a GS and JLC admirer in their own strength. GS is second to none in terms of finish and insane level of attention to details. Their innovations seem to aim toward practical timing precision (Hi-beat, SpringDrive, Super Quartz) without having to get themselves stuck too much in the realm of mechanical tradition. However, their lack of design varieties, in both the cases and movements, reminds me too much of Rolex.

            JLC, on the other hands, tops everyone else with the history and their incredible mechanical innovations for centuries (which are not necessarily better in term of timing precision) and wide range of designs that surely one will find something he or she likes. If one looks for a top Swiss manufacturer with unmatched history and innovation, JLC is just the brand by a long shot. But if timing precision and incredible finish is what one is looking for in an understated three-hand watch, GS is definitely a top contender of any Swiss brands.

            This JLC Geophysic True Second, is comparable in many ways to GS’s offerings with its simple, clean, and understated design. But its movement innovation (the Gyrolab, dead beat second) just win a slight edge for me.

          • Beefalope

            Is there an argument somewhere in there?
            Who cares if Seiko makes affordable and expensive watches? Are you buying a brand or a watch?
            in terms of brand heritage, Seiko takes a backseat to nobody. (Legitimately) first automatic chronograph. First in quartz. First in Spring Drive, which the Swiss still can’t master. Advancements in precision timekeeping standards that the Swiss are just catching up to now, and advancements in high-beat watches.
            You really don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re a brand snob without an argument.

        • otaking241

          Shh! It’s this kind of ignorant brand snobbery that has kept GS prices in reasonable territory–don’t spoil it!

      • Beefalope

        This is one of those situations where The Watch Snob can explain it much better than I. From today’s installment:

        “Anyhow, whilst at loose ends one afternoon in Tokyo, I happened to find myself adrift in the Wako department store, and in the wristwatch department. I am still not entirely sure why, but I happened to cast my eye over a case full of Grand Seiko wristwatches and was suddenly struck by their easy-to-miss-at-first beauty. I suddenly realized that I was looking at watches that showed a pride of manufacture and sincere devotion to quality absent from virtually everything produced in Switzerland; suddenly Swiss watches seemed to me filled with an easy, habitual cynicism that positively reeked in the nostrils of bad faith to the consumer. I bought two, brought them back to my Northern abode, and found myself wearing them remarkably often; the nacreous light of these climes seems to really bring out their beauty. A lesson to me, and perhaps to us all, to not let preconceptions close our eyes to beauty (although it strikes me that this entire reply is perhaps an admission that my doctor might be onto something).”

      • You are aware of the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat (5 Hz / 36,000 bph) mechanical movements aren’t you? You seem to be fixated with quartz models. Anyway my point was that this JLC and some GS watches both are subtle and refined watches which don’t scream for attention but have great attention to detail and are largely unnoticed by noobs who think fine watches begin and end with Rolex (which are also fine watches but there is more to life than just Subs and Datejusts).

    • JimBob

      $9k extra for the pink gold case! #GOLDISBEST

  • Rob

    The name “True Second” doesn’t make much sense to me. Even with the most accurate mechanical watch you won’t be getting any “true” seconds. I see the seconds hand more like an indicator that the watch is running and a smooth second is also nice to look at.

    • iamcalledryan

      Back in the days of the Anchor escapement pendulum clock the second was represented by a .5 Hz tick. When the pocket watch demanded different escapements with faster Hz the passage of the second became less clearly demonstrated. The dead second complication is arguably a truer representation of the passing second than a hand that progresses 8 times per second.

    • JimBob

      It’s just marketing. They didn’t like the way Dead Seconds or Deadbeat Seconds sounded.

  • SuperStrapper

    A bit of a snoozer really, but handsome nonetheless. I’m not very interested in these dead beat seconds mechanical watches, but they don’t offend me either. I do find it somewhat lulzy that expensive, highly researched mechanical watches of prestige are moving towards this tickticktick while affordable watches for the common man containing battery driven movements full of UHF technology are offering the smoothest sweeping ever seen.

    • Chaz

      EXACTLY what I was thinking. Thanks!

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      Well said. I also find the big gold rotor on the steel version a bit too much…

  • iamcalledryan

    Full disclosure, I have every intention to buy the steel this year. The watch is not perfect (I’m talking to you fauxtina lume!) but for the watch geek who is looking for understated mechtech from a proper manufacture, this is fantastic and I can see the value all over it. Other competitors for my next watch offer more conspicuous functional complications – I want a GMT, I need a power reserve indicator – and I have far less need for dead seconds nevertheless I am drawn strongly to it. I guess its because the complication challenges even the perceptions of the seasoned enthusiast, and is a fine representation of the mechanical watch world in general – totally obsolete, disproportionately complicated, but equally loved.

    After this I plan to pick up a spring drive, just imagine the confusion it will cause to explain that this one is mechanical and that one uses quartz regulation!

    • IanE

      And, if you could then get an Urwerk EMC2 (I know – me neither!), you could then have even more fun explaining manual use of a quartz oscillator to measure and then manually calibrate a mechanical movement!

      • iamcalledryan

        Exactly!!

        • mandimemike

          Then add a Reverso to the collection to explain how it’s the original sports watch!

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      I just realised the Skeletor managed to kill any desire in me to ever own a spring drive… It’s a shame.

  • TrevorXM

    The poetic beauty of a mechanical watch partially lies in its ability to give the illusion of capturing the smooth forward flow of time. One of the things that makes a quartz watch soulless is that it does not — instead its stuttering, jerking zombie hands and imprecision in hitting the markers makes it the opposite of poetry. I guess this watch hits the markers, but it still loses the poetry.

    • DanW94

      I certainly respect your opinion but keep in mind the lines are continually being blurred. The UHF watches from Bulova utilize a high precision quartz crystal resonator and the seconds hand positively glides as if moving across the time continuum. For me, mechanical means keeping the integrity of the parts intact (mainspring, going train, escapement, etc) This true seconds is just JLC experimenting with the output of those movement parts.

      • Korz

        The problem is that this is an unnecessary complication for just making a complication. There’s no benefit to dead-beat seconds. If you really want to have an impact on accuracy, you need to ungear the second hand and make it a subsidiary one to improve torque flow.

  • DanW94

    A handsome dress watch. I’d definitely wear it, satisfied in my knowing that my quartz like ticker is actually a mechanical marvel.

    • Korz

      It’s not really a marvel; it’s quite easy to gear, as you just need to build a slipping clutch into the gear train. It’s just not practical and completely unnecessary.

      • DanW94

        I didn’t necessarily mean marvel as groundbreaking or totally innovative but in the broader sense of the word, as in that building is a marvel to look at. Along those lines.

  • funNactive

    I want my mechanical watch seconds hand to sweep (not writing telling me that it’s not a quartz) & my tourbillon to be seen (not just writing on the dial telling me it’s there). – Just for my pleasure.

  • Shane Kleinpeter

    Much like having to explain a joke that nobody gets, having to explain why I should want this complication belies the fact that I don’t want it.

  • mandimemike

    Love. This. Watch. It’s pedigree, execution, aesthetics, and complications are combined in an elegant yet purposeful package. Upon close examination, wonderful details emerge from the multi leveled and contrast finished case back, the textured markers and logo, multi faceted hands, movement architecture, etc. It takes close examination and time to appreciate, therefore it’s really meant only to be enjoyed by it’s owner. It doesn’t give a rat’s rumpus what anyone else perceives or thinks about it. This watch has a confidence that few can match. Thank you JLC for making a watch for the ardent connoisseur in all of us.

  • Reprobus Marmaritarum

    I’d love to like this but it seems to me that they missed the mark. The original Geophysic was an explorer’s tool watch that could be worn with a suit. They should have taken that DNA and made the modern version significantly more capable (50 m depth rating should barely be worn in the shower let alone swimming). And the dead seconds complication may be interesting but is essentially out of place here.

    • iamcalledryan

      Anything over a splash-proof rating is silliness on a leather strap watch. It’s tool, but dress tool – agreed that this is a deviation from the original Geo, so your main point is valid…

      • egznyc

        I love your expression, “dress tool.” That’s fantastic!

        The one thing that keeps this from looking super dressy is the thickness of the piece. Okay, that and the lume bits – but I LIKE ’em!

  • Mike Burdine

    I like the steel one. It would not be my first pick in this price range but it is very nice.

  • JimBob

    Gyrolab is the most delicious kind of balance wheel.

    • Korz

      Disagree, Breguet silicon double hairspring is a thing of beauty (and insane micro-torque).

      • JimBob

        Needz moar tzatziki.

  • Beefalope

    A dead-beat seconds hand is, by far, my most disliked complication on a mechanical watch. The most aesthetically displeasing aspect of a quartz watch is a ticking seconds hand. I simply don’t see the point of reproducing what is ugly into a beautiful mechanical watch.

    • Checkout the Gronefeld Parallax Tourbillon then. It has a “sweeping” tourbillon and also a dead beat seconds hand and they are aligned so outside of the sweep vs. jump, they stay in lock step. That is a fun watch to watch with a dead seconds. Otherwise, I hear ya.

      • Beefalope

        Now that DOES sound interesting, actually.

        • My bad – their Parallax Toubillon does NOT have a dead seconds. Sorry about that.

          • DanW94

            Mark, perhaps you’re thinking of the Arnold & Son Constant Force Tourbillon with the dead-beat seconds and tourbillon side by side?

          • I don’t think I was thinking at all… brain fart. Must be old age or wishful thinking.

          • egznyc

            I seem to recall a review of a watch with a dead beat seconds hand for regular time keeping and a sweeping seconds hand for its chrono complication. I thought this made a lot of sense, actually – so hope I’m not just imagining that I saw such a review.

      • MEddie90

        I’d love to see a watch that has both a smooth and dead second combined, I know f.p.journe has a one second remontoir combined with a smooth tourbillon but it would be great to see a split center seconds hand where one hand operated at 8bps and the other at 1bps. I imagine it would be impossible (or near enough) coordinate the hands so that as the smooth sweep had passes the second marker the dead beat jumps instantaneously to the same position but a man can dream.

        • It would be possible. Gronefeld has a dead beat seconds watch (another model) so they have the design already. Then the tourbillon, like on the Parallax, just does its thing splitting seconds at 3 Hz into 1/6s. All that it would take to coordinate the 2 hands/indicators is to hack the movement at “60” and align the seconds hand during assembly. Think I should suggest this to Bart and Tim in a few weeks? Actually this would be a big deal to add to their Parallax, so while it’s easy to suggest, it would not be so easy to implement. But they are the guys to do it to my mind. Cheers.

          • MEddie90

            It would be interesting to hear their reaction on the idea, personally I like a dead beat because it breaks time down into discreet packages, in its own way I find it poetic. Combining with a continuous flow of time introduces a nice contrast. I just had a make shift attempt at my own using the 5bps chronograph on my quartz timex roughly synchronised with the 1bps running seconds hand (both centrally mounted). Looks pretty neat and I’m sure with proper calibration could create a cool effect.

        • iamcalledryan

          The closest thing to this is in fact the FPJ Tourby Souverain. When the power from the mainspring is so low that it no longer charges the remontoire the dead seconds magically switch to 3Hz. Not quite what you ordered but it will have to do, sir!

          Technically, it is absolutely possible to do what you describe though, using a cannon pinion. So go patent!

          • MEddie90

            Unfortunately my last comment now means its in public domain, at least I think so. Having considered it I sure it is achievable, would.just take some careful alignment and a tight control on the slack in the gear train to ensure the dead beat is on the mark.

      • Moonraker

        Or the Habring Foudroyante.

  • spiceballs

    Nice but pity they don’t use a “white” lume on the steel version. Could afford to at that price?

  • Michael Kinney

    I’m a sucker for a nice handset, and that might be the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

  • Roma KLM

    I like everything in this watch but the true second. That’s why I would rather buy “Geophysic 1958”.

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