We all know the Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic! But how many of you know the E 165? Only three numbers apart but they could well be worlds apart…
One being the Super Star legend, part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre 125 Year Jubilé Collection from 1958, always causing a bidding war at auctions, a whole Tribute line carrying its name!
And one being the E 165…
So what is the E 165 then? The E 165 is a waterproof, manual wind, time only, central seconds dress watch from the early-mid 1950’s.
I do not know exact year of release or number produced but mine is from 1951 – 1952 based on the movement serial number.
To put it in perspective; in the 1950’s, Jaeger-LeCoultre had many manual movement dress watches, both waterproof and non-waterproof.
Not only were there many different references but there were also several different dial versions of each reference and several different case material of each model.
Most of them between 33 mm to 35 mm, time only with central seconds or sub-seconds.
To narrow it down a bit, let’s focus on the waterproof models. References starting with an “E” as in Étanche (waterproof).
A few examples: E 109, E 110, E 159 and E 160.
And here are three more of which the first one being the E 165.
E 165, E 115 and E 163.
As you can see several similar models with slightly different dial- and case design.
Here another example page from the 1957 catalogue, E 165, E 212 and E 268. In this scan, notice the somewhat larger crown on the E 165, similar if not same as on the E 168 Geophysic.
Another detail exposed in this document; diameter 33 mm.
The catalogue says 33 mm, but the look and feel of the E 165 is more like 33.5 – 34 mm.
Here side-by-side with the E 168 Geophysic (left: 35 mm, pink gold), E 165 (right: 33 mm, yellow gold).
Different in style.
Sword hands vs Dauphine hands, one with lume one without. One with thicker, stronger straight lugs, the other with thinner curved lugs.
From what I have observed, waterproof references originating from the 1940’s often have snap on case backs, like the E 109 and E 159, while waterproof references originating from the 1950’s mostly have screw down case backs. A sign of technical development and cheaper production I would say (screw down case back existed before the 1950’s but at a higher production cost).
Both the E 165 and the E 168 have the screw down case back.
Same but at the same time different – the different profiles of the case back do give a tell. While the E 168 have a inside dust cover and a “flat” movement side, the E 165 which do not have the inside dust cover, have a bevelled movement which makes it possible to have the case back closer to the movement. I.e. flatter watch.
A side view shows the thicker E 168 (top) and the flatter E 165 (bottom) having different lug profiles but very similar crowns.
The E 168 lugs looks short and straight compared with the longer, curved lugs of the E 165.
Inside, and now it starts to become interesting; inside the E 168 is the famous Calibre P478/BWSBr. Parachoc protection of the balance wheel, edges of the movement bevelled on the dial side, yes the Geophysic dial is not flat, Breguet Spiral and without decoration on the bridges.
The E 165 have the Calibre P450/4 CBr. Same Parachoc protection, edges of the movement bevelled on both the dial side and the movement side, Breguet Spiral and beautiful Geneva bars decoration on the bridges.
Both movements are 12.75”’, 28.8 mm in diameter. In fact, the Calibre 478 is derived from the Calibre 450.
Some of the more obvious differences from looking at the two movements side-by-side are the hack seconds function, the Swan neck regulator, the “simpler” bridge of the 478 and the bridge decorations.
What I find a bit surprising is that even if the 450 is the “simpler” movement, no Chronometer certification, no five positions adjustment, no hack seconds, it is decorated to a higher level.
While the Geophysic were one of the poster boys back in the days, the E 165 was one of many…
You would have expected the other way around when it comes to the finishing. Like the Vacheron Constantin Chronometer Calibre P1008/BS based on the same JLC Calibre 4XX base.
The E 165 I picked up many year’s ago on a whim.
While looking closer on the dial I suspected it of being a repainted dial based on A) the painted hour lines in the minute track. Normally you would expect to see a lume dot there. B) The dial is marked “SWISS” only while most watches during this period have the “SWISS MADE”. C) The hands and applied index are much lighter in colour (in flash light) than the rest.
So the E 165 ended up in a box with “other stuff” waiting for me to start my work on analysing, trying to determent its origin and gathering facts to be able to “connect the dots” like here in this post.
There it was for several years until I found a document which made me think… And then I found another document which made me change my mind…
Yes, I already showed you these two documents and yes it is the same illustration shown in two different catalogues.
But if you look closely you see the enhanced painted lines of the hour marks, the “SWISS” only at the bottom, the position of the JLC logo, they all check out. Also the shape of hands and index, the enlarged crown – it’s a perfect match!
So after spending a decade in a box, I now enjoy this hidden gem on my wrist!