Jaeger-LeCoultre brought in its 185th year at SIHH by introducing a new Polaris collection inspired by the memorable Memovox Polaris, a diving watch that it launched in 1968.
While the original, a much sought after piece in the vintage market, was a diving watch with an alarm, the new line has five watches - a three-hand automatic; a chronograph; a chronograph with world-time function; and two models that most closely channel the look and feel of the original 1968 model, the Polaris Date and the Polaris Memovox.
All the timepieces in the new Polaris share design codes of the original Memovox. Each dial consists of three concentric circles with contrasting finishes: sunray in the center, graining on the outer circle with its vintage-inspired Arabic numerals, and opaline for the rotating inner rotating bezel flange. That rotating flange, and the second crown that operates it, is the other major feature from the historical model that unites the new family.
The Polaris Automatic is a good solid entry point into the collection, with just a three-hand time display and no date, offered in a stainless steel case with alternating brushed and polished finishes and measuring a contemporary 41 mm in diameter. Its inner rotating bezel has a diving-inspired.
Inside is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s automatic 896/1, with a 40-hour power reserve. The dials are in black or “ocean” blue, and the watch is available on either a leather strap or a newly designed three-link steel bracelet with a new folding buckle. Prices on the Automatic range from $6,600 to $7,600.
In a slightly larger case size (42mm), the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is the sportiest of the collection, as well as the only model offered in a precious metal case. Its inner rotating bezel features a racing-inspired tachymeter scale, and the chronograph pushers have been engineered to ensure an ideal grip.
The classic bi-compax dial features a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 9 o’clock. The watch is powered by the manufacture Caliber 751 visible through a sapphire caseback and holds a 65-hour power reserve.
The steel models are available with black or blue dials, while the rose-gold model version has an anthracite dial and a brown leather strap. This version is also distinguished by its movement’s solid gold rotor. Prices range from $10,000 to $10,900 in steel and $24,500 in rose gold.
The Polaris Chronograph WT is cased in titanium and has a second crown (at 10 o’clock on this model) to control an inner rotating city disk with 24 world cities. The wearer simply rotates the disk to see at a glance what time it is anywhere in the world.
The movement powering all of this functionality is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufacture Caliber 752, with automatic winding and a 65-hour power reserve. Ocean blue and black dials are available on this one, also. The prices are $14,500 on calf leather, $14,600 on alligator leather.
The final two members of the new family are designed to pay the closest homage to the original. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date, while not encasing a mechanical alarm like its famous predecessor, is about as faithful a replica as you’ll find in terms of aesthetics. This model’s trapezoidal indices are treated with a vanilla-colored Super-LumiNova meant to evoke the aged look that the tritium-treated indices of those early Polaris watches now sport.
The case is stainless steel, 42 mm in diameter, and has a box-shaped crystal over the dial like the historical model; also like the vintage piece, its caseback is solid and features an engraved Scuba diver’s helmet, and its dial has a date window at 3 o’clock (a feature left off of the new Polaris Automatic).
Behind that engraved caseback beats Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Caliber 899/1, with a 38-hour power reserve. This model is water-resistant to 200 meters (as opposed to 100 meters in the previously discussed models). It is available on a new rubber strap with a Clous de Paris pattern. It is priced at $7,750 on a strap and $8,700 on a steel bracelet.
Finally, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox, which is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, channels most directly the spirit of the original timepiece, containing a crown operated mechanical alarm function driven by the modern Caliber 956, a direct descendant of the very first self-winding alarm movement, created by Jaeger-LeCoultre, in the 1950s.
This movement, which packs a 44-hour power reserve, ticks inside a 42-mm steel case that is water-resistant to 200 meters. Like the Polaris Date, it sports the vanilla-colored, “aged patina” luminous indices, the solid caseback with divers’ helmet engraving, and is available on either the patterned rubber strap or a steel bracelet; both versions are priced at $12,600.