The Original Geophysic of 1958
With the original Geophysic of 1958, Jaeger-LeCoultre had made a watch that was not only celebratory in nature, but that was also specifically designed to be fully functional in such an unprecedented scientific endeavor. This was a watch that had to be usable by the very scientists that would undertake the work, and it had to be made to the highest standards of what the manufacture could achieve at the time.
Here was a watch that while retaining a simple dress-like appeal, had to also be a certified chronometer fitted with shock, temperature and, most importantly, anti-magnetic protection for the studies at the poles that would be undertaken. Caliber 478BWSbr was developed for this watch, and it had been conceived with the experience that the manufacture had obtained making movements for the military watches of IWC. Designated as Chronometer E168, the watch featured hacking seconds, for precise time-setting; a Glucydur balance for stability through changes in temperature; a shock absorber; a “swan neck” index for micrometric adjustment; and a soft-iron inner case for protection against the effects of magnetic fields of up to 600 gauss.
For this very special production, approximately 1,000 stainless-steel pieces were made for only one year in 1958. Thereafter, this model was discontinued, being replaced by the more common Geomatic in 1959. Certainly a rare watch by any standard, the original Geophysic stands alone as being one of those watches whose appeal is undeniable, not just for the watchmaking chops that were displayed in its construction, but also for the romance of why it was made. After all, the effects of what was achieved by the scientists in that year still reverberate with us to this very day, and it seems by far to be the only watch designed with such a noble intention in that era.