One of the strongest, all-round collections of SIHH was, without a doubt, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris. Coming off a strong 2017 lineup, JLC hit all the right notes with their brand new Polaris collection. While this five-strong family of watches is clearly influenced by the Polaris of yore (for more on that, check out Andy’s look at the origins of the model), this is more interpretation than pure homage. Sure, there’s the Polaris Memovox, which is the closest the collection gets to a one-for-one reissue, but there are also relatively simple automatic and date models (the date is my pick of the litter, FWIW). The Polaris DNA is strong in these models, thanks to the dial, as well as the dual crown layout, but it also works wonderfully in the more complex Chronograph and Chronograph WT options. All told, the 2018 Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris family is considered and commercial in equal measure, and already looks set to be one of the year’s highlights.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT is, in marked contrast to the Polaris Automatic, a complex beast indeed, with (as you could probably guess) both chronograph and world time functionality in the one case. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this complication-combo, as the very impressive Calibre 752 pops up in sportier parts of their collection. But while previous incarnations have been quite modern in their style, the bi-compax chrono and world time are well suited to the old-world inspired looks of the Polaris. Nothing vintage about the case though – this 44mm titanium number is thoroughly modern. And, sure, all the extra information on the dial does complicate the cleaner design codes of the Polaris line, but the key features are there: the range of varied dial finishes, the applied trapezoid markers, the black and ocean blue colouring. And all that extra dial detail makes for a much richer on-the-wrist experience. With its functional design, wearer-friendly lightweight case rated to 100m, solid 65 hours of power reserve and undeniable charms, the Polaris Chronograph WT is a strong option for fans of JLC’s complex offerings who crave a more classic look.
The Polaris – as Andy recently informed us – is one of those truly iconic watches conceived in a golden age, not just of watchmaking but also of global exploration. This year the Polaris got the nod for the remake and revamp treatment, being offered in five new models, starting with the deceptively simple Polaris Automatic. The uncomplicated, no fuss Polaris Automatic is the entry-level ticket to JLC’s brand new sports watch collection. The dual crowns hark back to the original, but this is no Memovox. Instead, one crown governs time-setting and the other looks after the internal bezel. At first glance, the dial is uncomplicated, devoid even of a date. But look closer and you notice the mixture of sunray, grained, and opaline treatments, with applied numerals and trapezoidal hour markers filled with luminous material that matches the hands. It’s exactly the sort of accomplished offering you’d expect from JLC, and it elevates the Polaris Automatic above the typical sports-casual fare. The dial is offered in black and (our pick) ocean blue. Inside the 41mm steel case beats the LC Caliber 898/1 automatic movement with a power reserve of 40 hours, tested for 1000 hours and looking good through… Read More
Today we’re looking back at the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Polaris, an extremely rare and somewhat mysterious dive watch — which lately has been garnering a lot of attention. The Memovox Polaris was an extremely functional offering, delivered by Jaeger-LeCoultre during a time when the world was fascinated by deep sea exploration. The 1950s and ’60s are referred to as the ‘golden age’ of dive watchmaking, and the Polaris was certainly a highlight of that period, which is why we’re taking a look at it today. Most of you should be familiar with the famous Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, given recent reissue pieces and famous ‘barn finds’ in the last few years. But if you’re new to the JLC Memovox Polaris (ref E859), we can understand why. Only 1714 were made — making it far less common than the Memomox timepieces from the same period. The first Memovox Polaris prototype was developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre in the early 1960s, before being released in minimal volumes in the late ’60s. Basically, it was a beefed-up Memovox — designed with deep-diving and wetsuits in mind (not cocktails and tailored suits). So, how was the Memovox Polaris different to a ‘regular Memovox’? Well, firstly, the Polaris was a dive… Read More
‘Novelty’ is one of the most abused words in the watch industry. Practically, it’s used to describe the steady stream of new models and designs being produced by watchmaking brands. But on top of that, it conveys a sense of newness and — marketing departments fervently hope — excitement. For example, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 2017 novelties were their Master Control trilogy — they excited people, and rightfully so. And while this grey-dialled Master Ultra Thin Moon is a new release, it’s not really a novelty — it didn’t make headlines at SIHH, and doesn’t showcase any innovations in mechanics or material. But despite this (or perhaps because of it), this serious, ghostly grey Master Ultra Thin Moon is an exceptionally beautiful piece of watchmaking, the sort that JLC excels at. If you’re not familiar with the MUT Moon (as it’s sometimes known), here’ s the two-minute rundown. First introduced in 2012, this perfectly sized 39mm white gold dress watch is a case study on just how well Jaeger-LeCoultre does thin watchmaking. At 9.9mm tall it’s slender, but not exceptionally so, partially due to the complicated nature of the movement. On the other hand, it does feel pleasingly solid on the wrist, avoiding that anxiety-inducing… Read More
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Geophysic collection harks back to a time when nuclear tensions were taut between the Eastern and Western Bloc. A time in 1958, at the height of the Cold War, when a period of collaborative worldwide scientific experiments and excursions took place. Dubbed the International Geophysical Year. One of the more notable expeditions of the time, was a pioneering cross under the North Pole, by the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus. On the wrist of USS Nautilus commander – Captain William Anderson – was the high-tech (at the time) purpose-built Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic, designed to cope with the strong magnetic forces of the region. Now one of the most sort after vintage watches on the market. In 2014, JLC released a series of limited edition tributes to the original. Leading to the release of the Geophysic True Second in 2015. As a further tribute to the fathomless depths explored during the Geophysical Year. JLC has released a new limited edition Geophysic True Second. With its tell-tale tick passing on a backdrop of a radiant ocean blue dial. Essentially this new limited edition is identical to the previous versions. It has a 39.6mm stainless-steel case with alternating brushed and polished finishes…. Read More
Believe it or not, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is one of the original sports watches. The oft-quoted origin story about this iconic rectangle is that it was the dusty polo fields of colonial India that gave birth to the reversible watch, which could be easily flipped to protect the delicate dial during the rough and tumble of the chukka. That was way back in 1931, and in the subsequent decades the perceptions of the Reverso have, much like its ingenious case, done a complete about-face. In 2017 the Reverso stands out as one of the default black-tie watches. Nowhere is that more apparent than with this Tribute Duoface, which looks absolutely stunning in pink gold. The case size is reasonable – but by no means overwhelming – at 25.5mm wide by 42.9mm high. The one thing that shines brighter than the gold on this watch is the clever and varied use of texture. Everywhere you look there’s a different finish. The front dial is described by JLC as a slate grey, but I’d be much more inclined to refer to it as a silver, with a rich eggshell texture. Whatever you call it, it looks good. The second dial is just… Read More
I’m no prop master, but I know when I’d reach for a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso to dress a character’s wrist. It would be when they had a scene in a suit. It would be at a point in their character trajectory where they were at peak confidence, when their outward style is tapping into the classic, the iconic, the timeless. And also when the brand of badass they’re seeking to project is more brains than brawn. You suspect this was precisely the thought process of the art directors and prop masters that did just that with these kings of the screen. Pierce Brosnan. Ah, Pierce. He may have bombed as Bond but the man knows how to work black tie. The key is having an accessory in the mix that pops on the monochrome backdrop, and few accessories can compete with a gold dress watch with white face and black leather strap. The additional fact that it’s an unusual shape also catches attention. This is a five-star power play. Bravo, Brosnan. Leo. Damn, Leo! Has the boy put some thought into this outfit or what, pairing not only a dress watch and band to his formal attire, but also dial colour… Read More