The Vintage-Inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date (live from SIHH 2018)
The non-limited cornerstone of the new casual/sports Polaris collection by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Right from the start of the SIHH 2018, we made sure that the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection was covered here, on MONOCHROME. Indeed, it represents one of the main novelties of the show and is an extremely important collection for JLC as its only true sports range of watches. And while the Memovox will certainly be the most desirable of them all, we want to show you another model that we consider the cornerstone of the collection. Non-limited, relatively affordable but still vintage-inspired, let’s meet the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date.
Where does the collection come from? And why does it appear on the market now, not as a simple vintage re-edition, but as a complete collection? First of all, when your name is Jaeger-LeCoultre you can’t go too far in terms of technical looks, ruggedness or sportiness. In collector’s minds, JLC is a classic brand, with a certain elegance and a traditional design. Nothing too fancy, nothing too showy. Restrained and well executed. However, when you are an established manufacture, knowing the current trend for casual/sports watches, you simply can’t skip such a large market segment – which is what JLC had been doing now for a while.
The inspiration, the 1968 Polaris Memovox
With this in mind, Jaeger-LeCoultre had to react and introduce something that was both casual/sporty and in line with the common perception watch enthusiasts have of the brand. This is what JLC has done with this new Polaris 2018 Collection, which is more than just a vintage re-edition. Having a faithful reissue of a glorious watch is one thing, however, creating a complete collection is quite another. This is why the new Polaris is still a Polaris, but not a 1960s Polaris either… I know, this sounds complicated – but it isn’t.
The idea behind the collection was to stay true to the name it bears, and the new Polaris 2018 Collection is a well-dosed mix of vintage elements and modern features. What changes amongst the different models is the modern/vintage ratio. On some pieces – like the chronograph, WorldTime and Automatic time-only – we mostly have modern touches. On the Memovox and the Polaris Date, the vintage flair is more present.
Regarding the Memovox, we think this watch deserves an in-depth article – and it will come right after the SIHH. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date, which will not be a limited edition, has all the makings of a best-seller. Finally, with the exception of the alarm function and thus the third crown, it is almost the same watch. And a very beautiful one!
As mentioned, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date is more vintage-inspired than the other members of the collection. This is all due to one element: the faux-patina paint applied on the indexes and hands, which are designed like the 1968 version. Overall, the design of the Polaris is true to the original, although many elements have been reshaped or changed to obtain a watch that is more modern – and much better in terms of quality too.
The case of the Jaeger LeCoultre Polaris Date is entirely terminated by hand
The case of this 2018 Polaris Date measures 42mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 200m conferring it the markings of a true sports watch. Yet, the case is far from having the finishings of a tool watch. Surprisingly, for a watch in this price segment, the surfaces are all finished by hand, whether the satin parts or the polished chamfers. The result is extremely pleasant in the metal and sets this watch in a higher category. The case is attached to a rubber strap with a discreet “clous de Paris” texture. A metallic bracelet, which is finished like the case, is also available.
The dial immediately makes a statement. The shape of the indexes (12 – 6 – 9 Arabic numerals and triangular markers), which are applied and not painted, as well as the three-tone layout, are clear references to the historical model and create a convincing lineage. The central part displays a sunburst finish, the hour ring a grained texture and the inner bezel an opaline surface. An interesting comment concerning the date, which has been deliberately placed on this vintage version and not on the time-only (and more modern) version, is faithful to the 1968 model with its date feature.
As a member of the Polaris collection, the present vintage-inspired version relies on the typical “compressor” design, which implies a large dial with no outer bezel, albeit with a twin-crown: one to wind and set the movement, one to rotate the inner diver bezel with its 60-minute scale. Quite popular in the 1960s, it remains a rare feature today that only a handful of manufactures still use – yet a very desirable design if you ask me. This absence of an external rotating bezel also adds to the elegance and vintage flair of this Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date.
Inside the case, hidden under a case back engraved just like the 1968 model, is the calibre 899/1, a movement that can be found in the recent Master Sector Dial Automatic. With 219 parts in total, a 4Hz frequency and a 38-hour power reserve, it offers the basics and more, as certified by the “1000 Hours Control”. The decoration throughout is very pleasant, even if the movement isn’t visible here.
The vintage-inspired Jaeger LeCoultre Polaris Date is a pleasant watch with a winning design, clearly in line with the idea we have of JLC. Not too sporty, slightly vintage, perfectly finished… Well done. This model will be priced at EUR 6,300 (before taxes) on a rubber strap. It will be available as of April 2018 in stores and in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s official e-shop.