Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic: the Box – Part 1

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I already wrote about this box but due to many questions, I will try to clarify some of my thoughts regarding the Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic and the boxes for the watch…

In this part 1 I will focus on the Red Book box and the relation to the Sputnik box.

The Red Book of the E 168 Geophysic is rather difficult to find, especially complete and in good condition…

Most of these boxes I have seen in France or originally from France, so I was happily surprised when I earlier this year found one in Italy! I forgot to ask the seller but I assume this box also originated from France or possible the French speaking part of Switzerland…

My first Red Book I wrote about here: The Red Book of Jaeger-LeCoultre: The Geophysic Box

But as the saying goes – T.W.O is always better than one!

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – the Red Book

Please be aware there are several versions of this Red Book on the market!

My pair have has thick, high quality leather with deep, gilt embossed print. There are another versions out there, I will not go as far as claim them fake or copy but the leather and gilt print are made with much less quality than the pair I show here.

Inside the Red Book box is pamphlet – “pioneers of high precision”:

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – “pioneers of high precision”:

The pamphlet tells about the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre…

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – pamphlet inside

…and some of their key achievements!

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – pamphlet inside

One important point regarding the Red Book is that the pamphlet is still there… I have seen Red Book boxes lack the pamphlet and even worse… The metal buckle locking the box!

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – the Red Book

Now, the question everyone is asking – the Red Book box vs. the Sputnik box?

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – the Red Book vs. the Sputnik

Known fact is that the Commanders Calvert and Anderson were awarded with a yellow gold Geophysic each for their achievement by the people of Geneva – with the Sputnik box!

You can read about it here: Jaeger-LeCoultre “Geophysic”, “Submariner” and “Nautilus”

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic awarded to Commanders Calvert and Anderson

For a long time, many collectors thought that these Sputnik boxes were special made for the T.W.O Commanders… But over the years, more than T.W.O of these boxes has surfaced!

So that theory can be ruled out. Still, it can’t have been a very large number of Sputnik boxes made or Red Book boxes for that matter… I saw maybe ten of each (maximum) during the last 20+ years…

Based on this observation and the fact that all Red Book pamphlets are in French…

My impressions are that –

A) A small number of Sputnik boxes were made for the Swiss market to celebrate the 125 Year’s Jubilee of the Manufacture in 1958.

B) A small number of Red Book boxes were made for the French market to celebrate the 125 Year’s Jubilee of the Manufacture in 1958.

C) Other markets may have used some special boxes for the Geophysic and the 125 Year’s Jubilee – a topic I will return to in Part 2.

Around 1300 pieces of the E 168 Geophysic and another approx. 100 pieces of the reference 2895 Geophysic De Luxe were made but only a few boxes of each type has been spotted…

– What about all the other Geophysic watches?

If each watch would have received a special Geophysic box, these boxes would be as “common” as the watches… Well, we all know that boxes easier get lost than the watches, but still, there would be plenty more to surface.

A less well-known fact is that the Geophysic were in the catalogue for a long time. I have seen the Geophysic listed in catalogues as late as 1967… But the 125 Year’s Jubilee was only celebrated in 1958!

So I think it is very likely these special boxes were only given to the very few first buyers of the Geophysic while later customers got the “normal” box at the time of buying the watch!

To recognize a late production Geophysic is not easy. Many references are possible to identify the year by the movement number…

But, again from observations, I think the Calibre P 478/BWSbr movements were made in T.W.O batches, later to be cased and sold over a period of a decade.

But there is a tell that may indicate a later date – as you know, radium and later, also tritium were banned in Switzerland to be used as luminous material on hands and dials.

On some Geophysic watches you may see both hands and tension ring completely without a trace of luminous material. Often these watches have very good dials as no residue from the radium have stained the varnish of the dial. Not to be confused with examples where the radium is missing due to degeneration overtime, those dials are often in less good condition…

Below is one example of no radium, my friend GP Chronicles E 168 Geophysic, sold in 1967.

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic – credit: GP Chronicles

So, my conclusion so far is that the Red Book box is correct for a French market E 168 Geophysic…

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – the Red Book

And the Sputnik box is correct for a Swiss market E 168 Geophysic!

Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic box – the Sputnik

Even if a lot is written about the Jaeger-LeCoultre E 168 Geophysic – there is still a lot to discover!

Please join me here in my journey through the Jaeger-LeCoultre heritage and history…