Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic was first launched in 1958 as a special edition watch and has since become a hot favorite for vintage collectors. In 2014, JLC revived the Geophysic label for a new line of watches. The Geophysic Universal Time in steel was a part of this lineup, followed by a gold model. Here, we look at the steel model on a bracelet and it's really quite interesting how a simple modification like exchanging a leather strap for a steel bracelet can significantly change the identity of a watch. I know this point seems self-evident, but the shift from very dressy to quite casual is stark here, especially considering the classic world timer dial.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On
All images by David Bredan

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time is, as the name indicates, a world timer and to the best of my knowledge, it is the only world timer available today that also has a deadbeat seconds hand. For those uncertain of how it works, a world timer is a complication that allows the wearer to tell the time in almost any part of the world with the help of the city disc and the 24-hour disc. The exact math requires a small learning curve and some general knowledge, but it's a fairly intuitive system.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

A deadbeat seconds is a little more uncommon, as far as mechanical complications go. The simplest way to describe it is to imagine the seconds hand behaving the same way as it might on a quartz watch – a distinct tick for each second. Also known as a true seconds complication, this was historically (much before the advent of quartz) prized by watch owners as it helped them tell time precisely to the second. Given the mechanical complexity in designing a true seconds movement and the attendant premium in price, it's not entirely a surprise that the complication is uncommon. In addition to Jaeger-LeCoultre's Geophysic watches, the ones that I can think of immediately are the Habring2 Erwin and the Grönefeld One Hertz.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

An interesting factoid (and one that Ariel is fond of repeating) is that the caliber 772 movement in the Geophysic Universal Time has exactly one component less than the movement in the time-only Geophysic True Second, the caliber 770. That number is 274. I'm not entirely sure how Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to add a world timer complication but reduce the total number of parts by one, but they have.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

The caliber 772 is also equipped with the brand's proprietary Gyrolab balance. The Gyrolab balance is designed to be more aerodynamic and to improve rate keeping accuracy over time. The caliber 772 beats at 4Hz and offers 40 hours of power reserve. The movement is visible through the caseback and has the usual decoration in the form of Geneva stripes, heat blued screws, beveling, and a decorated gold rotor.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

By their nature, world timers have busy dials. I can't think of a way to have a world map on the dial and still maintain a minimalist appearance. However, there are small elements that can make or break a world timer dial. Many have dials with maps printed on them that tend to look flat and a bit dead but not in the case of the Geophysic Universal Time. Here, the map seems to be etched onto the dial like a bas-relief and gives the dial some texture. Any text printed on the dial (especially the city ring and 24-hour ring markers) is high contrast and quite legible despite the small font. The applied markers are also a nice touch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

Another common complaint with world timers that a lot of collectors have are the hands, which tend to be small. This is again a consequence of design because the actual time-telling dial is quite small and the hands must be limited to this radius. If you've found the hand length to be an issue in other world timers, then the Geophysic Universal Time may not be the right watch for you. The sword shaped hands are brilliantly polished and filled with Super-LumiNova. In practice, legibility shouldn't be an issue in most situations.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

The Geophysic Universal Time is housed in a 41.6mm steel case. The case construction and details are fairly straightforward but well executed with a polished bezel, caseband and lugs, and a simple fluted crown. The case styling is reminiscent of dress watches from a few decades ago. The new update, while seemingly small on paper, makes a significant visual difference. The Geophysic Universal Time is now offered on a fine-link steel bracelet.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

The bracelet isn't quite a beads-of-rice style and personally reminds me of Sinn's excellent 5-link bracelet, but with a few differences. The middle three links are thinner than the outer two. In addition, these three links are brushed while the outer links are polished. Naturally, Jaeger-LeCoultre has designed the end-link to sit flush with the case. Overall, I think this lends the watch a new look and is functional too. World timers are designed to be worn by globetrotters and an alligator strap (which is what the watch is usually shipped with) doesn't always do well in humid, tropical climates. A bracelet is better equipped to cross time zones and different climate types. The buckle on the bracelet however, is not to my liking and looks a bit dated. I think a double butterfly clasp-style buckle would've suited this bracelet better.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time Watch On Bracelet Hands-On Hands-On

A world timer is not really a daily wear watch and not one that is mainstream in appeal. A dead seconds complication on top of that means that only a collector secure enough in their tastes and knowledge of watches is likely to wear one. But if you do happen to like world timers and enjoy some uncommon mechanical complexity to your timepieces, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time is a pretty compelling offering. On the bracelet, this watch is priced at $15,700 as opposed to the $14,000 that the steel version with the alligator strap is currently priced at. jaeger-lecoultre.com

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (13)
  • Interesting (11)
  • I love it! (8)
  • Classy (6)
  • I want it! (6)
  • Pete Pete

    I like it. somewhat too shiny, though. and too expensive – you know, it can’t even make phonecalls like the new apple “watch”.

    • Mikita

      You may call yourself via JLC and congratulate the lucky guy 🙂

  • Word Merchant

    Nice watch, but JLC watches should never be on bracelets.

  • Phil

    The bracelet looks awful.

    “I’m not entirely sure how Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to add a world timer
    complication but reduce the total number of parts by one, but they have.”
    The world timer doesn’t have a date complication?

    • Timestandsstill

      Most don’t

  • Raymond Wilkie

    What a mess.

  • Mikita

    A typical non-bracelet watch IMO.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    Not a fan of either the bracelet or the two screws in the dial. Everything else looks pretty good.

  • “I’m not entirely sure how Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to add a world timer complication but reduce the total number of parts by one, but they have.”

    Perhaps it’s because there’s no date function and a rotating bezel isn’t a complication? Does the bezel or city ring even rotate? How does it do so?

    Also, how does a world timer not have a date?

    This article didn’t tell me much about the watch other than I’d be a ‘secure collector’ with ‘taste’ if I dropped $15k on it. I’m satisfied being a Philistine and not liking this one at all.

    • Timestandsstill

      Not that many higher end world timers have a date function. Montblanc, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin are all “dateless”. The date function on the Frederique Constant really messes up the dial in my opinion.
      I believe the 24 hour ring rotates and once the local time is set via the crown no further adjustment is necessary.

  • Sam Soul

    Idea about a customization: engrave the owner’s hometown location on this gorgeous world map.
    What do you mean it’s not expensive enough ?

  • Marius

    The standard (three hander) Geophysic True Second is definitely one of my favourite watches: it is equipped with a technically interesting as well as nicely-finished caliber; it features a high-quality case & dial; and at $9,000, it offers very decent value. Nevertheless, I’m not so fond of the Universal Time, and I find this timepiece rather uninspired.

    Let’s start with the price — more exactly, with the huge difference between the three-hander and the world timer. The standard Geophysic retails for slightly under $9,000, whereas the Universal Time costs $14,000. I find the over $5,000 price difference extremely difficult to understand considering that these two watches share the same movement, same case, and that the only difference is the dial of the Universal Time. Personally, I’d get the three-hander Geophysic, and with the $5,000 saved, I would go to Bangkok and Pattaya — now that’s what I call universal time. Universal time with the ladyboys.

    Secondly, I find the dial quite ugly and not very legible. In my opinion, the hands are too thin; the two screws on the dial are an eyesore; and most importantly, I’m not sure what planet is depicted on the dial. It looks like Uranus, but I could be wrong.

    • I have to assume that the dial was designed by an acolyte of the flat earth movement – one who also believed that the Southern Hemisphere was a fanciful, but mythological, invention.

      • IG

        Most worldtimers show one hemisphere for obvious reasons.

        • Because the designers are boring and unimaginative? The Montblanc you posted above at least attempts to acknowledge the existence of the planet, and does so beautifully.

          • IG

            Still the Montblanc shows just the Northern hemisphere by orthographic projection.

  • RLiuMRG

    “Given the mechanical complexity in designing a true seconds movement and the attendant premium in price, it’s not entirely a surprise that the complication is uncommon. In addition to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Geophysic watches, the ones that I can think of immediately are the Habring2 Erwin and the Grönefeld One Hertz.”

    Jaquet Droz makes a “Dead-beat seconds” watch, as does ALS. I believe Arnold & Sons has one or more models that also feature a “true seconds” complication.

    • Timestandsstill

      F.P. Journe to name another

  • IG

    I’d prefer the Montblanc Orbis Terrarum’s cleaner dial with night half indication.

    http://watchesbysjx.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/migrate/Montblanc-Heritage-Spirit-Orbis-Terrarum-World-Time-3.jpg

  • Aditya

    Nice, but at this price point I’d rather have the perpetual calendar or a rose gold MUT Moon.

  • BNABOD

    At first glance it looks ok but then as David points out you attempt to read the time and the desperate search for the hands starts. I don’t really get it here and using a deadbeat seconds without the seconds markers (which would not look good here) seems like a waste of a complication.
    15 grand and the 1973 bracelet look , pass. The Mont-blanc showed by IG looks a lot better or go for the Alpina (while different goes for 3000 bucks) and call it a day. To me a gmt watch just does the trick which is why I carry my gmt master II when travelling. Just works, gives me three time zones and voila and was a hell of a lot cheaper and will retain its value better. I know not for everyone but here I don’t see the appeal.

    • Timestandsstill

      I believe there are seconds markers on the dial.

      • BNABOD

        Good point I did not zoom in enough…

  • Phil leavell

    That’s really cool remove the third and now it’s no longer world timer its a universal timer aka just a normal watch but charge 5 grand more make it harder to read what a winning combination
    ?6??

  • WatchMark

    I’m surprised at the largely negative reaction to this watch. I consider JLC a rather conservative brand, so seeing people expressing their dislike of the design is interesting. There are certainly elements I dislike, but others I like very much.
    Pro
    Technologically advanced, in-house movement
    Sapphire caseback
    Interesting complications (dead-beat seconds, world-timer)

    Con
    Bracelet is totally misplaced here
    Expensive

    This reminds me of other dressier watches on bracelet that never worked: GO PanoMaticLunar, Chronoswiss Opus, etc.

  • Chaz

    That bracelet makes me cringe like Dracula at the sight of daylight….

  • otaking241

    Such a great watch–the only thing I’d change is removing the applied “JL” logo from the dial and moving the brand name up so it’s more evenly spaced and doesn’t conflict with the continents. The beauty of the dagger hands gets lost a bit in the globe motif but it’s a fair trade IMO. It’s a shame JLC can’t come up with a better bracelet but in my mind their watches really belong on straps like all proper dress watches. Definitely on my “get” list.

    • Timestandsstill

      I have this watch and absolutely love it! Like most watches it needs to be seen in the metal to fully appreciate.

  • IanE

    It’s a funny old world (and you can see a lot of it here [on this watch dial, that is] !) – I have the original version (on leather) and find the dial so beautiful (and legible – except for the rather weak lume) that I thought most would love it (and the two small screws on the line through Greenwich are virtually invisible in practice, at least to my eyes). But taste is taste – and, luckily, all I need to please is me (well, plus a bit my partner!). I’m not fond of the new bracelet though.

    • Timestandsstill

      I agree, the screws are hardly noticeable when the watch is on your wrist.

  • BRIAN

    Those two screws!! How on a $15k watch they couldn’t either fasten the dial a different way or better integrate the screws into the design?

    • Archie Miller

      Those screws! PhMD!

  • SuperStrapper

    >JLC
    >bracelet

    Pick one.

    This has just never been a bracelet brand, and this piece is no exception. Literally every piece looks best on a great strap.

  • Yan Fin

    In competition ‘crap for $1700’ this bracelet is a sure winner.

  • Timestandsstill

    It’s not mentioned in the article but I believe the bracelet is adjustable via the clasp up to 5 mm and also includes a patent pending quick change lever system that allow the strap and bracelet to be easily swapped.

  • Archie Miller

    The only thing I dislike is the screws.