Next comparison I would like to share on the Wooden Beam 2020 is a pair of Jaeger-LeCoultre Cross-hair dials from the 1950’s.
The Cross-hair dial decoration on the dial have been used by many brands through history and during the 1950’s and 1960’s it was a very popular way to make a dial less “plain”.
What is a bit interesting is that when going through all my Jaeger-LeCoultre documentations – both catalogues and ads for the time period 1950 to 1959, there is not many watches with Cross-hair dial.
I have heard theories that the Cross-hair was restricted only to Chronometer watches, but that is not true – at least not when it comes to Jaeger-LeCoultre, possible for other brands but not here.
Fact is that I only found a handful watches during the 1950’s from Jaeger-LeCoultre which have the Cross-hair dial.
First one is the E 329 from 1957: Calendar – Automatic, sub-seconds, roulette date wheel and according to this document, 34 mm. You can read about the roulette date wheel here.
In other documents the E 329 is featured as well – to the left, French reference 12 R.A.E.C. 2 (Round, Automatic, Waterproof, Sub-seconds). The one to the right, from another document I have, at first I mistook it for the E 329 but looking at the French references, the “E” – Étanche is missing and the ID-number is “1”, not “2”. You can read about the different reference systems here.
Looking closer, this must be a different watch – look at the thinner bezel and the curved lugs. Different hands set and based on the missing “E” in the French reference, I am guessing snap on case back instead of screw-down as on the E 329… Still to figure out which is the Swiss reference for this one but most likely it will be a four digit number starting with a “2nnn”…
Remember that the size of the E 329 in the first document stated 34 mm? Here is yet another document from 1961 stating 35 mm – which matches my watch. Guess that Jaeger-LeCoultre mixed it up during printing of the first catalogue.
Second one is the E 168 Geophysic, which from start did not have a Cross-hair dial. The dial that was used from start, the “12/6” dial, was designed in 1957 for the Geophysic release in 1958.
I do not have any document with the Geophysic Cross-hair dial, but I have seen the drawings. The Cross-hair dial drawing is dated 14th of January 1958, so most likely the Cross-hair dial of the Geophysic didn’t reach the market until 1959.
Here in a document from 1959 is the Geophysic “12/6” dial, but also T.W.O other Cross-hair dial watches – one ladies watches, the French reference 9 RO.SC. 65 and the men’s watch 12 R.A. SC. 11 (Swiss reference E 373 Powerwind – you can read about it here).
So why compare these? Just because of the dial? Yes and No.
Yes, because these are the only Jaeger-LeCoultre Cross-hair dial watches I have and even if they are very close to each other in year of release, 1957 -1958, and they share the same size, both are 35 mm in diameter…
No, another reason is to show how very different these watches are from each other even if they share a similar look…
Automatic vs, Manual, Chronometer vs, non-Chronometer, Date vs. No date, Numbers on the dial vs. No numbers on the dial, Large lume vs. Small lume, Dauphin hands vs. Sword hands, Small crown vs. Oversized crown, Sub-seconds vs. Central seconds, Tapered lugs vs. Broad lugs…
Yes, the list goes on…
Not even the dial colour is the same – while the Geophysic dial is white with a surface structure similar to what we can see today in the Duometre line…
The E 329 have a greyish white dial with a glossy surface.
While taking photos a cloud came and shadowed this shot – at first I didn’t want to use it, but then I changed my mind as it clearly shows the difference of the dial colours.
You may think I missed a lot of Cross-hair dial watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre? Well, there has been many, but not during the 1950’s!
As soon as we enter the 1960’s there are a lot of different Cross-hair dial watches to choose from.
Here are just a few examples from the 1963 catalogue: 19020, 1926, 1966, E 390 and E 392 – all featured with the Cross-hair dial.
On the wrist they are similar at first glance… But once you stop and look closer…
What has always puzzled me is the fact that the E 329 is a creation matching its year – Automatic movement with date.
In the end of 1950’s and 1960’s that was the “hottest” complication, all brands were competing in making the best automatic movement with date.
The Geophysic which Jaeger-LeCoultre chose to include in their 125 Years Jubilee collection on the other hand have a manual movement and no date… Why did Jaeger-LeCoultre not include any automatic watch with date in the 125 Years Jubilee collection?
Not that I am complaining – once you strap on the Geophysic on your wrist its magic!
But what is the biggest difference between these two is the fact that one has become an icon of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the other one is almost forgotten…!
Stay tuned from more Wooden Beam 2020 reports!