Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 LE
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Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 LE

Edmund Hillary had stood on the top of the world, but in the austral summer of 1958 he found himself standing at the South Pole.

Hillary was part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which spanned from the years 1955 to 1958 as part of the International Geophysical Year.

Preparations began in 1956, with an advance party of ten men whose task it was to ready the base for the rest of the Expedition’s arrival. Left with only tents and packing crates to shelter them from the bitter cold of the Antarctic, the men had to haul stores from where they were left on the ice, two miles from the base. The unpredictable Antarctic weather soon manifested itself in a blizzard with temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius and snowdrifts that threatened to bury them, leaving them no choice but to shelter in their crates and wait out the storm, which lasted a week.

When they finally emerged, they found that the bay ice had broken off and taken the rest of the stores—food, fuel, two huts, and a tractor—out to sea.

In December 1956, Vivian Fuchs, the Expedition's leader, returned on the Magga Dan with additional supplies, replenishing those that had drifted into the Southern Ocean; and in January 1957, the 21-man Main Party arrived, led by Robert Smart.

Smart and his men had six months to build a laboratory that could meet the requirements that the coordinators of the IGY set for participation in the project. They had to build a hut for Decca radar, another for radio astronomy, and sheds for balloons and generators. By July 1, construction was completed on a base which would be the UK’s longest-serving research station in Antarctica: Halley Base.  

Meanwhile, a party of New Zealanders led by Edmund Hillary created a support base on the southern shores of Antarctica, at McMurdo Sound on the Ross Sea. After having conquered the seemingly-unconquerable Mt. Everest in 1953, Hillary turned his focus to the Antarctic. His task as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition was to find a route toward the Pole and lay a line of supply depots clear across the continent.

Though Hillary was never intended to travel as far as the Pole, he saw the opportunity to beat the British there, and continued overland, in Massey Ferguson T320 tractors that had been specially-fitted for the journey. He arrived on January 3, 1958 at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station that the Americans (led by Admiral Richard Byrd) had established.

Not only had Hillary scaled the tallest peak in the world, but with the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, he gained the distinction of being the first person to reach the South Pole in a land vehicle.

That tradition of exploration and discovery lives on with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958.

The original Geophysic was supplied to the captain and crew of the USS Nautilus for their historic voyage under the ice cap to the North Pole. Its Calibre P478 movement was encased with a soft iron shell to protect it from strong magnetic fields found near the Pole. In 2014, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Geophysic 1958 as a tribute to those historical models. Though remaining very true to the original feel and layout of the Geophysic, JLC elected to increase the case size from 35mm to 38.5mm and fit the watch with a Calibre 898/1 Automatic movement. This re-issue was accepted with wide acclaim and sold out quickly, in no small part due to the extreme rarity and value of the originals.  

The Geophysic 1958 is, in our opinion, another heritage inspired home run for Jaeger-LeCoultre, and in an ultra-wearable stainless steel case, it should be at the top of the list for anyone looking for a modern piece with a truly respectable lineage.   

Details

SKU: AS02123

Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). JLC Reference 08008520. JLC Calibre 898/1 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 2014.

Overall Condition: Case is in excellent condition, nearly new, showing no noteworthy blemishes other than a minor scuff-mark on the bezel at 6 o'clock. Dial is in excellent, as-new condition. Case back is in likewise excellent condition.

Includes one 20mm JLC leather strap with deployant clasp.

Also includes inner and outer boxes and warranty card dated 4/23/16 from Greenwich Jewelers in Istanbul.

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