Designing a watch that looks old is easy. Classic lines, a faux-patina dial, an evocative name — and boom, you’ve got a Heritage piece with a capital “H”. But building one that takes the best of what’s old and marries it to state-of-the-art watchmaking is something entirely different. That’s what Jaeger-LeCoultre has done with the Geophysic True Second. The watch takes its name and its inspiration from a timepiece Jaeger made in 1958 to commemorate the “International Geophysical Year,” which was presented to the captain of the first submarine to go under the North Pole. That watch was built to survive the ordeals of its voyage, namely high levels of magnetism, and represented Jaeger’s watchmaking expertise. The new Geophysic True Second carries forward the same spirit of durability and discovery as its 1958 forebear but it’s the second part of its name that transcends a mere exercise in nostalgia.
A common misconception of the novice watch enthusiast is that a fine watch’s second hand “sweeps” rather than ticks. But at the truly high end of watchmaking, there is a mechanical movement that ticks — the so-called “deadbeat second.” It takes such skill to manufacture that few have attempted it. To get the seconds hand to move from one increment to the next requires an entirely separate set of gears and balance spring to store up and release energy. The result is a crisp movement unrivaled by anything battery-powered.
In this way, the Geophysic True Second may be the ultimate in stealthy watch snobbery. The average person will assume you’re wearing an ordinary quartz watch; only those who know will know. Also, in its modest 39.6mm case with a spare dial, this is a watch that doesn’t scream “luxury” — rather, it quietly ticks a refined, timeless elegance.
Movement: Self-winding mechanical calibre 770
Case: Stainless steel 39.6mm
Water resistance: 50m
Functions: Time and date
Strap: Alligator leather