Wooden Beam 2020: Jaeger-LeCoultre E 558 and Zenith Respirator

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The Jaeger-LeCoultre E 558 Master Mariner Deep Sea “Barracuda” and the Zenith Respirator is another pair of watches from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s which even if they are very different from each other in shape, they also share several common features.

One Tonneau shaped, one square – one “slowbeat” and one “speedbeat” – only one of the is a divers watch but both are having compressor cases!

Making an comparison between these T.W.O may look a bit odd, but like in my previous Wooden Beam 2020 post, there is an “air de famille” without any real connection – the Jaeger-LeCoultre E 558 Master Mariner Deep Sea “Barracuda” and the Zenith Respirator:

When new these were both were featured with similar bracelets, both made by NSA which provided bracelets to both Jaeger-LeCoultre, Zenith and several other brands during this period – late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

This blue dial version of the Respirator, with a darker dial and big luminous markers may look like a divers watch dial, but I don’t think it was sold or marked as such.

The Barracuda on the other hand is a divers watch with the Tonneau shaped super compressor case made by EPSA.

Actually, both watches have cases made by EPSA and both case types using the compression of water pressure to make the case sealed closer.

The super compressor case you can read about here: Lemania super compressor.

The Respirator case is a T.W.O piece case with a seal in between. The parts stay together with four “hooks”, this way if pressure goes up the two parts are compressed together and tighten the seal harder. Once pressure decrease the parts separates again, expands – like breathing in and out, hence the name “Respirator“.

On the back the difference is shown more clearly – the Barracuda with screw-down case back, while on the Respirator you can see where the pieces go into each other, overlapping each other.

Inside the Barracuda is the automatic movement Calibre 883 with sweeping central second and date, running at 19800 vph/2.75 Hz.

While the Respirator have the same features but using the Calibre 2562 PC which is running at 28800 vph/4 Hz – a.k.a. “Speedbeat“.

On the wrist you get another air de famille – even if they have different shapes and sizes. Ratio between width/thickness and the same type of bracelet makes the feel on the wrist quite similar!

The Jaeger-LeCoultre E 558 Master Mariner Deep Sea Barracuda – 37 mm wide and 13.5 mm thick:

Zenith Respirator – 30 mm wide and 11 mm thick:

I find these type of cross brands comparison interesting – they paint a picture of the watch industry and the time period which may be hard to see if one would only look at a single brand…

Stay tuned for more cross brands comparison!