At SIHH 2018, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled a line of men’s sports watches in its completely new Polaris Collection. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has sought to produce a new option in the sport-elegant genre by providing a full range of timepieces for the active man. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris collection includes an automatic, a date and two chronographs that vary in size and complication but share a common character inspired by the brand’s heritage. Embodying the spirit of the 1968 Memovox Polaris, the attention is in the details that unite this contemporary collection with a strong vintage feel.
The Memovox Polaris was first released in 1965, building on the success of the 1959 Memovox Deep Sea – the first dive watch with a mechanical alarm (to remind divers to begin their ascent). The Memovox Polaris introduced a patented triple case back to optimise underwater sound transmission. The 1968 version, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was a further update and became a standout classic.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre icon is very recognisable with a distinctive, triple-tone, black dial featuring stylised Arabic numbers and trapezoidal indexes in contrasting, luminescent vanilla that made for clear legibility, a functional inner bezel, and multiple crowns.The 2018 Polaris Collection offers an array of complications, including some that depart from the original dive watch formula.
But by respecting the defining characteristics of the 1968 Memovox Polaris, in a watch case very faithful to the original, the Polaris Collection presents a ‘family’ of Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces for “the man in motion”. Dark dial architectures are tempered by three beautiful finishes – sunray at the centre, grain encircling the indexes’ path, and opaline for the inner bezel.
Large hands, over-sized, angular numerals and trapezoidal indices filled with Super-LumiNova make for excellent visibility in low light. The large crowns, emblematic of the 1968 original, have been re-worked to provide better grip. Being a Jaeger-LeCoultre, all of the automatic mechanical movements in the Polaris Collection are made in-house.
The first model in the collection pays homage to the much-loved Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Polaris from 1968. Presented in a 42mm, compressor style case made from steel and rated water resistant to 200m, enthusiasts will quickly note the three crowns, the first clue that this watch is equipped with an inner-rotating bezel and a mechanical alarm. Inside is the legendary Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 956, the same automatic movement with alarm and date that appeared in the 1968 model.
As you might expect, it has undergone some significant improvements since then, however, impressively, this movement has been in continual production since its creation more than 60 years ago. It is hidden away under a steel caseback, which is engraved with the image of a scuba diver, just like the original. Only 1,000, numbered pieces will be made in total, with limited allocations available world-wide, so pre-ordering is essential if you want to secure yours.
The Polaris Automatic is the smallest in the series at a case size of 41mm, offered in stainless steel. Visually, it remains quite true to the original Memovox Polaris 1968. It features a dual-crown – the lower for setting time, the upper for the inner rotating bezel (which allows a diver to track elapsed time easily).
The dial is offered in black or ocean blue. The straps available are interchangeable and feature a new folding buckle. An all new three-link bracelet is also being released with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Collection. The Polaris Automatic is powered by a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 898/1 visible through the exposed case back, which offers a power reserve of 40 hours.
Like the Automatic, the Polaris Date takes its design cues straight from its vintage namesake. In fact, of the wristwatches discussed, it bears the strongest resemblance by adding the date aperture at 3 o’clock. It uses a vanilla Super-LumiNova colour for the contrasting numbers, indexes and hands, that echoes the original 1968 lume (while the other watches receive a White treatment).
Additional vintage features include the domed crystal and the closed case back, engraved with a diving helmet (similar to the image found on the inner case back of the original).
That’s because the Polaris Date is a serious dive watch, water resistant to 200m (while the other models still provide a very healthy water resistance of 100m).
The case size of the Polaris Date is a slightly larger 42mm, in stainless steel, featuring the same two-crown system as the Automatic. The Polaris Date comes with a black dial and is available with the new three-link bracelet. But it’s also being offered with another all new black rubber strap, properly complementing its diving heritage and giving this contemporary sports watch an athletic look. The movement inside is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 899/1 with a power reserve of 38 hours.
The Polaris Chronograph is where Jaeger-LeCoultre depart from the dive watch complications in order to create a sports range with the Polaris Collection. Drawing on their link to motorsports, Jaeger-LeCoultre equip the Polaris Chronograph with a tachymeter scale (which, in combination with the chronograph seconds hand, allows you to determine your speed over fixed distances). The inner bezel is thinner to maximise space and readability of the subdials.
The pushers for this precision instrument (start/ stop at 2 o’clock and reset at 4 o’clock) flank the single crown so that together they reflect the triple-crown arrangement of the 1968 Memovox Polaris.
The 42mm case is offered in stainless steel with a choice of black or ocean blue dials, or 18k rose gold with anthracite dial. The stainless steel comes with the option of the new three-link (matching) bracelet. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 751 – on show through the sapphire case back – is equipped with a column-wheel and gives a generous 65-hour power reserve.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Polaris Chronograph WT. It has the largest case at 44mm to accommodate the busiest dial. The right side mimics the Polaris Chronograph – two pushers flanking the centrally positioned time setting crown. A second crown is added at 10 o’clock to turn the inner bezel that provides the world time function (allowing you to simultaneously read the time in your current location and in 23 other cities – helpful for travel/ international business).
Cities that employ daylight saving time are denoted with a small, white triangle, to remind you to account for them accordingly.
The weight of the larger Polaris Chronograph WT is kept down by the fact that the case is crafted from titanium and the watch is less than 13mm thick. The dial is offered in black or ocean blue. There are several leather straps to choose from. The power comes from a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 752, with another generous power reserve of 65 hours.
The Polaris Collection has been developed to occupy the sport-elegant watch space at the same high-end level as other Jaeger-LeCoultre collections, such as Master and Reverso. This bold step into the new is fortified by the company channelling its heritage. The new Polaris collection based on the 1968 classic Polaris Memovox is a full range of elegant, functional sports wristwatches with a unifying vintage style, that caters to all tastes. There’s something for everyone here – enthusiasts and newbies alike. Be the first to own one of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris models by pre-ordering at Watches of Switzerland now.