Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic 1958
A Special Guest
The Explorer’s Club
Last week, our friends at Jaeger LeCoultre (JLC) released a very special watch. Maybe some of you have noticed the occasional watch post on my Instagram feed or a reposted link on Facebook. Watches are a personal interest of mine and one that I see linked with photography and exploration. So through a series of fortunate events, I found myself back up at The Explorer’s Club (TEC) to welcome the newest release for JLC, the Geophysic 1958.
The Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 is connected to my reason for becoming a member of The Explorer’s Club. You might be wondering how and why I feel connected to a watch from the 1950’s, let me explain. In 1958, Vice Admiral James Calvert (who I wrote about here) penetrated the North Pole from the underside in a nuclear submarine named the USS Skate. Upon his return, the city of Geneva honored the efforts of Calvert and the captain of the USS Nautilus, Capt. W. Anderson, for their efforts with a gift of the JLC Geophysic.
The watch was designed in honor of the Geophysical year of 1958, when during the Cold War, a collection of nations temporarily set aside their differences in the pursuit of science. Which is not to say Earth was swept over with world peace, but it was a good effort in the name of science. The Geophysic was designed to be a summary of the accomplishments, both powerful and simple.
An in house JLC Chronometer 898/1 with a stop second for accurate setting.
An automatic movement with ceramic ball bearings requiring no lubrication.
Inner iron ring to protect the movement from magnetic fields.
Water resistant to 100m.
Overall, the watch linked the historical lineages of scientific exploration and high watchmaking in an understated piece that would be at home in a nuclear submarine or at an officer’s dinner.
On Thursday I was joined by the President of JLC, Philippe Bonay, International Sales Director Yves Meylan, and Press Coordinator Cecile Tinchant for a release at The Explorer’s Club. I thought TEC was a perfect location for the release, and we even ate at the same table where they planned the Panama Canal. The history inside of TEC was shared through a private tour given by TEC’s director Will Roseman. There were too many stories to go into, but I will have to write about them in another article sometime soon. Let’s just say that some of the highlights ranged from the 15th century architectural details to a former member who survived a jaguar attack by making a fist inside of the throat of the jaguar to choke him to death. It was a nice reminder that many great characters have come before us, and if we hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with history we have to set the bar very high. Whenever I have the chance to spend time with the older members of TEC there is always a mixture of admiration and amazement as they recount their experiences.
A surprise addition to the lunch was a very distinguished Rear Admiral David Oliver (Ret.), who shared his unique perspective on life inside of a nuclear submarine and his relationship to Calvert and the USS Nautilus. Oliver started his talk by explaining how you need to know everything inside of a submarine by touch. It’s imperative you see, because while aboard various submarines he put out over 1,000 fires. When there is smoke filling the space and the fire is eating up the oxygen, response time needs to be quick and seamless.
After the meal, I introduced myself to Oliver and asked him about Calvert. He was happy to report that Calvert was an exceptional man and one of the nicest men he ever knew. Calvert and Oliver were colleagues, and Calvert was the commanding officer to Oliver’s brother for a period of time. This was probably the closest I would ever get to a glimpse of Calvert outside of television, and I was immensely grateful for Oliver’s time.
He went on to talk about two very important topics for me that were completely unexpected. The first was a bit of a history lesson. Oliver was in charge of the first US fleet invasion of Iraq. I’m not going to delve into his personal comments on that war, but I can say that it if you ever have a chance to speak to an admiral off the record, please take it. The experience is nothing short of enlightening.
On “being scared”…
The second thing Oliver explained was that Calvert’s perceived kindness came from the fact that he was able to sense when he was scared. Oliver too. I asked him, “What was the advantage of that?”
Oliver said that for as long as he could remember, whenever he was scared he got a pain in his right side. It was as reliable as clockwork. He went on to explain that very often people don’t acknowledge or accept that they are scared. It leads them to be unnecessarily mean, lose their cool and make poor decisions. But if you know what you are feeling, it becomes much easier to operate with the sensation and use it to your advantage.
One thing that really stood out to me was that Oliver used the phrase “to be scared” and not “fear.” Fear is this big, heavy word that almost undermines its real meaning. “Being scared” on the other hand, is what we associate with tiny animals and children. It is not the phrasing we would expect to hear from a retired admiral who was in charge of the worlds largest Navy, but I’m really glad he put it that way. It made both Oliver and Calvert seem accessible and humble.
Standing there in the library of TEC, sipping on my coffee, I felt fortunate to have Oliver’s audience. It was one of those ten minute conversations that will last a lifetime. It represents, in many ways, what TEC means to me and what a watch can mean too…they are the potential for a meaningful interaction that adds an immeasurable value to your life, not through profound effort, but simply through exposure.
As the last coffees were sipped and the watches were packed away, I thanked the JLC team for an excellent afternoon. For me, it could not have been better. It was the perfect synthesis of my interests: watches, exploration history, and most of all storytelling.
If you would like to read more about the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958, have a look on: