jaeger lecoultre geophysic true second

Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second: precise time to the second

“Time is written every second” seems to be the leitmotiv of Jaeger-LeCoultre's new watch, Geophysic True Second.

By Vincent Daveau

Some watches make an immediate impact. No need to beat around the bush: those who have had the chance to test the new Geophysic True Second on their wrist all agree that it was very difficult to return the watch to its owner afterwards. No kidding: the size of this 39.6-mm reference is ideal; a bit like the equivalent of the eternal 90-60-90. The sliding caliper cannot add or remove anything as holding the watch in your hands is enough to convey the fact that size is meaningless without balance. And this watch's size evokes what we could qualify as emotional and therefore irrational desires. Or are they? Indeed, looked at closely by an expert eye may prove otherwise.

The aesthetics of the golden ratio

When we talk about the size of a watch, we take into account its diameter and its thickness. Neither too thin nor too large, the size of the Geophysic True Second is just right for its target market: city dwellers who seek a long-lasting watch that won’t look old and worn. The piece is not only inscribed in history, but also it is the spearhead of a new range. Its design is partly inspired by a model that was very successful in 1958, the Geophysical year. As you will have undoubtedly worked out by now, having already understood, the watch is named after the science that studies the Earth. A watch for citizens of the world, its universality gives it cachet and the piece shows a clear determination to face future challenges and to move forward without disowning its past.

Jaeger LeCoultre True Second Jaeger LeCoultre True Second in pink gold

Once the piece is strapped on and on running one’s fingers over its profile, the slight overlap of the bezel becomes noticeable. This reinforces the traditional dynamics of the middle that is equipped, just like the old model, with a back screwed on the mass (as opposed to the screws we increasingly see on watch backs).

The back features the brand's characteristic decagonal sides. Incidentally, the watch, which originally had a closed back with a bookplate of a world map, is now equipped with anti-reflection sapphire glass that allows aficionados to see the finishes of the new in-house caliber.

An exceptional heart

The self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre 770 Caliber, developed by the Manufacture’s R&D Department, is in fact an innovative piece that looks almost traditional. It is placed near the balance, whose so-called atypical design will only appear so to newbies. Indeed, the oscillator’s design did not go unnoticed by experts, who immediately saw the resemblance with the one in the 2007 Master Compressor Extreme Lab 1. The latter was back in the day introduced as a major improvement in terms of setting. Yet, although it was an original choice for a wristwatch, this improvement did not bring anything new since the concept had already been used in marine chronometers from the late 18th century.

Jaeger LeCoultre True Second Jaeger LeCoultre True Second en acier

In 2007, the manufacture known by some locals as the "Grande Maison", informed that this balance adjusted better because it produced less air turbulence in its oscillations. Now, while the term "turbulence" would have been understood had it been referring to a plane wing, in the context of watchmaking it left most a little confused. As a little aside, it should be noted that these frictions were already proven in the studies carried out by L. Leroy with his observatory pendulums (including the one in Besançon) and also in those by Cartier with ID2 on open worked cases. The real concern with this balance is that it could be more sensitive than rings to lateral shocks since the hanging masses are not uniformly distributed on the rim of the balance-staff. According to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s technical department, this design is not more sensitive to shocks than a traditional balance, but it is definitely more precise. Whilst the watch has no certification from COSC, METAS or any such body, a 1,000-hour test in the manufacture’s laboratories in Le Sentier proved its precision meets every criterion of a certified chronometer.

The luxury of details at heart

I agree, nobody will really worry about the balance, which, once in oscillation, does not in any way reveal its structure to the undiscerning eye. Aficionados as we are, we particularly appreciated the sober and delicate finishes of this caliber, but above all, the solid gold treatment of the oscillating mass. The manufacture carried out detailed work on this element that brands tend to mistreat a tad too much. The open work, finishes and the simple "JL" engraving contribute to make this disc a pleasant visual anchor point. The coherent assembly features screws blued with fire on the inside and "côtes de Genève" as well as apertures that allowed for several discs to be fitted. The apertures also surreptitiously reveal a small, almost unimportant component that however makes this watch stand out and makes it even more pleasant to look at for those who like originality. We are talking about the balance-spring in the wheel that is visible near the rotor pinion.

Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 770 Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 770

A true second jump

This small component is in fact what makes the tip of the second-hand jump from one graduation to another as the regulating system of an observatory or most analog quartz watches would do.

Such a surprising display makes us fall under the spell of this watch all over again. Not only does it feature a harmonious, sober and fundamentally timeless design, but also it stands out by displaying the seconds accurately. It may sound crazy but such a display mode makes it possible to perform a countdown more clearly or to measure lapses without having to use decimals with the seconds.

Just as it happened with Seiko Spring Drive watches, the main effect this will produce will be to shift the attention to the very delicate dial that is strongly inspired by Geophysics of that time. Moreover, because every element was designed in a user-friendly fashion, the watch is equipped with a quick time setting that allows it to jumps whole hours. This setting method also allows for the date – displayed through an aperture – to be changed without altering the watch's running. The fine setting of the hours and minutes is always the same and is done by rotating the crown, once it is placed in position 2. It should be noted that the watch, which comes with an alligator strap only, has a deployment buckle for the steel version while the pink gold version closes with a traditional pin buckle made of the same material as the case.

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