Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic, £10,000 at Bonhams.

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JLC created it to be one of the most robust and precise timekeepers ever made at the time.

The calibre P478 chronometer grade movement was heavily based on its Second World War military mechanisms but featured several upgrades. These included a temperature resistant Glucydur balance and protection against magnetic fields via the use of an iron barrier between the case and movement. It was designed to stand up to harsh conditions while advancing geophysical studies.

Produced in 1958, the watch celebrated the 125th anniversary of the brand and also marked the first International Geophysical Year - an effort by 67 nations to encourage scientific experimentation in sciences including geomagnetism, oceanography and meteorology. This was the watch used on the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, and accompanied explorers to both poles.

Limited to a total of just 1038 pieces, a version offered by Bonhams (28% buyer’s premium) on February 21 was one of less than 800 produced in stainless steel. It made its mid estimate of £10,000 - a bid less than another example sold by Fellows in January 2023 for £11,000.

Formative years


Rolex ref 6150 Pre-Explorer, £19,000 at Dawsons.

The early 50s were a key moment in wristwatch innovation, as well as the formative years in the advent of modern marketing.

The Geophysic was JLC’s answer to the Rolex Explorer, the most rugged of the Oyster series of watches that were tested in the Himalayas for extremes in temperature and altitude. The Explorer received its name as a tribute to adventurers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who reached the summit of Everest in May 1953, but by that point earlier prototypes were already on sale.

The Rolex ref 6150 is known as the Pre-Explorer. Made for just a year in 1953, it has many of the classic features of the Explorer (including the signature 3-6-9 hour markers) but carries the word Precision instead of Explorer to the dial.

One of these rarities formed part of the Jewellery, Watches & Silver auction at Dawsons (25% buyer’s premium) on November 23 where it sold for £19,000 to an online bid.