February 23, 2016
by Ariel Adams
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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