Jaeger-LeCoultre: Echoes of the Past
Jaeger-LeCoultre strikes a resonant chord with its reintroduction of the Polaris.
First introduced in 1968, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris was one of the earliest watches to feature an alarm function. This novel complication uses a secondary crown to advance a pointer around the dial to set the alarm for a specific hour. At the appointed time, a tiny hammer strikes a gong to chime the alarm. Today, the Polaris continues to resonate with collectors who find its look — and sound — irresistible.
To celebrate the legendary watch's 50th anniversary this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre has introduced a new collection dedicated to the Polaris. It has a retro style that harkens back to the original, but with a size and feel that's more attuned to modern tastes.
Five models constitute the core of the new Polaris collection: Automatic, Date, Chronograph, Chronograph WT (a chrono and world timer combo), and a limited edition Polaris Memovox. These different functions imbue each model with its own distinctive personality, but they all share an overarching design code that gives the collection a cohesive look. The mix of Arabic numerals and trapezoid-shaped hour markers are familiar holdovers from the original design, as is the triangle on models with a rotating inner bezel.
Where the new collection breaks most noticeably from tradition is the intricate decoration found on the dials. It's actually a combination of several different finishes. The inner bezel is opaline, while the circular section populated by the hours and minutes is grained. Lastly, the center has a sunray effect that's similar to the one used on the original Polaris dial.
Most of the watches in the new collection feature a secondary crown. But instead of setting the alarm, the crown is used to rotate an inner bezel that can be used by divers to time a dive. To that end, all of the new pieces are water-resistant to at least 100 meters. Something else all the watches share is that each one is powered by an automatic movement, made in-house by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
For those seeking a neat and tidy dial, the Polaris Automatic is the clear choice. Its classic three-hand design showcases the dial to great effect. The steel case measures 41mm and is the smallest in the collection. Like all the watches in the Polaris collection, the sides of the case are brushed and the bezel is polished, creating an appealing visual contrast.
Available exclusively with a black dial, the Polaris Date embodies the original Polaris' aesthetic more than any of the pieces in the new collection. Callouts to the 1968 version are everywhere, from the vanilla-colored Super-LumiNova that adorns the hands and markers, to the scuba helmet engraved on the back of the 42mm case. Near the engraving, you'll also find a symbol indicating that the watch is water-resistant to 200 meters.
Built for action, the Polaris Chronograph hits that sweet spot between rugged sports watch and elegant timepiece. Pushers for the chronograph replace the secondary crown on the side of the 42mm case. For an extra level of functionality, a tachymetric scale is included on the inner bezel. Available in several iterations, the Polaris Chronograph comes in steel on a strap or bracelet with either a blue or black dial. It's also offered in rose gold with a gray dial, making it the only watch in the collection available in a precious metal.
The Polaris Chronograph WT is designed with travel in mind. Despite its robust size, the 44mm case is eminently wearable thanks to its use of lightweight titanium and a relatively low profile — less than 13mm thick.
Along with a chronograph, the automatic movement also features a world time function. To use it, turn the crown at 10 o'clock. This rotates the ring on the edge of the dial that includes names for the 24 cities that represent the world's major time zones. When the city you're in lines up to the correct time on the adjacent 24-hour ring, you'll be able to see the time in 24 different zones simultaneously.
For purists in search of something closer to the 1968 Polaris Memovox, Jaeger-LeCoultre also offers a special version — limited to 1,000 pieces — that includes the original alarm function.
Its 42mm steel case features three crowns to control the various functions. The crown at the top sets the alarm, the middle rotates the inner bezel and the one at the bottom sets the time and date. The Polaris Memovox is available exclusively on a rubber strap adorned with a handsome Clous de Paris pattern.
With its new Polaris collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre burnishes its formidable horological legacy while at the same time embracing the playful spirit of adventure that made the Memovox such an icon.
Original article by Scott Hickey