A festive treat
Let’s be honest here, how many times have you opened a beautifully wrapped present, only to be disappointed with what’s inside? So, in order to avoid yet another disappointment this Christmas, how about treating yourself to something you would really love, as a reward for all your hard work during 2014? In past December articles I have routinely proffered a roundup of watches to choose from. This time, I have decided to keep it really simple, picking just one watch: a re-issue of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic. Now, I am not normally a fan of re-workings of watches from yesteryear. If I want something that looks old and classic, I will buy a vintage watch. But with this particular watch I am prepared to make an exception, and with good reason, thanks to a fascinating history that hasn’t been overly publicised.
The Geophysic was created in 1958 when JLC celebrated its 125th anniversary. This was the year of the world’s first International Geophysical Year, an event that involved 67 countries — including the Cold War rivals — collaborating on scientific research projects. It was the overlap of these two major events that inspired JLC to create the Geophysic, which was one of the most precise and durable watches of its time. So much so, that it was the watch chosen to accompany explorers to the Poles, as well as being on the wrists of navy captains on the Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine. Only 1,038 stainless steel pieces (and an additional 30 in solid gold) were made in 1958, after which it was replaced with the Geomatic, which, in my opinion, is nowhere as near as interesting or good looking.
” If I want something that looks old and classic, I will buy a vintage watch. But with this particular watch I am prepared to make an exception”
I was really pleased when I heard that the Geophysic had been re-introduced this year, as the reboot is a very appealing watch. Here’s why. At first glance you may think it’s just a classic-looking, elegant watch that merely tells the time. But this is part of its charm. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and only you and fellow watch addicts will know what it’s really all about. It’s super precise and also a tough cookie that can take quite a bit of rough and tumble. This is down to the movement beating inside — a top-tier JLC calibre 898/1, known for precision and reliability, and is even more precise than a chronometer-grade watch. The case is 11.4mm thick, which is not bad, considering it houses an anti-magnetic cage and is water resistant up to 100m. It’s available in stainless steel, rose gold, and platinum (each in limited numbers), but the platinum iteration is by far my favourite, as it’s nicely understated.
When you sum up what this watch has to offer, it makes for a very interesting proposition. Put it on an olive green Nato strap and it becomes a watch you could take anywhere or do anything with — you could swim in it, dive in it, or play a game of tennis in it, safe in the knowledge that it’s more than up to the task in hand. Switch it back to its originally supplied leather strap and it becomes a rather elegant timepiece that would not look out of place with your formal attire. I think it would have looked great on Sean Connery in one of the earlier Bond films, emerging from the sea and unzipping his scuba gear to reveal a dinner jacket.
Much like Connery’s outfits at that time, this doesn’t shout look-at-me, preferring instead to be more of a fly-under-the-radar type of watch.
If that’s your bag, go and have look at one. The price point of the steel version is very attractive at around Dhs36,000, and is limited to 800 pieces worldwide. Rose Gold will retail for Dhs76,400 and will be limited to 300 pieces worldwide. The platinum comes with a blue alligator strap with platinum buckle, and this one will be limited to just 58 pieces worldwide and sold exclusively through JLC boutiques with a price tag of around Dhs118,000. Just as in 1958, this will become a rare, timeless piece, which is well worth investing in this holiday season for yourself. Though, of course, it will mean your wife expects something that is at least as desirable and more expensive.
I’ll leave you to haggle over the details.