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.
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.
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.
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.
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