In 1957/58, a group of about forty countries, including the US, Soviet Union, and most of Europe came together to declare the International Geophysical Year (IGY). It was a scientific collaborative effort to explore the Earth’s poles, climb the tallest mountains and advance the exploration of space. This was a time of burgeoning scientific progress, and the watch industry was right there too.
Wristwatches were becoming more capable of highly accurate timekeeping, as well as being exposed to extremes of temperature and water depth. This made the IGY a perfect opportunity for watch manufactures to tie in their products with these scientific endeavors. Earlier in the decade, some of the big Swiss companies had already had their watches tied to famous explorations. Rolex sent their Explorer with Hillary and Norgay on their ascent of Everest in 1953, Vulcain accompanied the assault on K2 in 1954, and Enicar was there for the climbing of Lhotse in 1956. Rolex had great success tying their Explorer to the Everest expedition, and they and other watch manufactures wanted to take advantage by advertising their exploits and attaching themselves to the popularity of the IGY. Two manufactures in particular took advantage of the IGY: Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) and Nivada. In 1958, JLC sent their now famous Geophysic Chronometer with the USS Nautilus nuclear submarine on its journey under the North Pole, while Nivada sent a watch to the Antarctic in 1957.