The Brand New Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection (SIHH 2018) – Live Photos & Price
The Polaris 2018 Collection is Jaeger-LeCoultre's new sports watch, and it modernizes an iconic historical model.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is well-known by watch enthusiasts, especially when it comes to dress watches or elegant timepieces – think Reverso or Master Ultra-Thin. Yet, in terms of sports watches, the situation is rather different. JLC never really succeeded in creating the definitive collection – now more than ever, as the Master Compressor collection is discontinued. For the SIHH however, things are changing with the introduction of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection… A sports watch collection, which is JLC all the way.
History… The Polaris, first of its name
Polaris… A name that should resonate in many collectors’ minds as a legendary model indeed. But that’s not where the story started. Rather, it was back in 1959, with the creation of the first dive watch with an alarm, the Memovox Deep Sea. The mechanical alarm function (a signature complication of all Memovox watches) was used to remind the diver when to return to the surface. The watch was equipped with the calibre 815, the first movement to combine the self-winding capacity with the alarm function.
The original Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox Polaris – circa. 1968
Six years later, in 1965, another icon came to life, the Memovox Polaris. This watch featured a triple-back to improve the diffusion of sound underwater. It was also particularly noticeable because of its “compressor” design (with 3 crowns – one for the movement, one for the alarm, one for the inner bezel) and the look of its dial – clean, functional and now, iconic. With its generous size and its highly contrasted dial, it was a true professional dive watch back in the days. It was equipped with the calibre 825. In 1968 came an updated version – the one you can see above, which happens to be the best known of them all.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Tribute to Polaris from 2008
Fast forward to 2008, when Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Memovox Tribute to Polaris, a faithful re-edition of this watch, with an identical case, dial and functions. This 42mm watch, still with alarm function, featuring the calibre 956 and water resistant to 200m, quickly became a hit, and was limited to 768 pieces only.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection, a complete range of watches, is a mix of contemporary and vintage.
Inspired by the iconic Memovox Polaris watch from 1968, Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed a new collection to jump back into the sports watch market, however in an elegant, restrained and, in fact, very JLC way. Not just a single homage to a historical reference, the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection takes the spirit of the Memovox Polaris and modernizes it to create a full range of timepieces: a three-hand automatic, a chronograph and a chronograph world time, as well as two models with a stronger vintage feel; the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox.
The idea is pretty simple, yet more thought-out than just copy-pasting the past. All with in-house movements, all with refined dials (combining applied markers with several finishings), all with modernized cases, all with the same sporty elegance. The idea of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection was to create a range of watches that is contemporary, sporty yet elegant, with a vintage touch.
The dial architecture of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection is distinctive, combining a mix of sunray (centre), graining (hour track) and opaline (inner bezel). The cases are also brand new, with proportions designed to a modern sports watch (diameters range from 41mm to 44mm) and a combination of brushed and polished surfaces, with sharp, plunging lugs and thin, rounded bezels. Something to note is that the cases are hand finished (both the satin surfaces and the polished accents) and are superb to contemplate in the metal. The multiple crowns, a signature of the collection, have been redesigned for better grip.
The cases of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 collection are all hand finished… and superb!
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris 2018 Collection comprises five models, which will be available from April 2018. But first, here is our initial look at them, live on MONOCHROME.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
The first vintage-inspired model is the big deal… But also the one that will be the most exclusive (only 1,000 pieces produced). The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox is, as indicated by its name, the worthy descendant of the 1968 model, as not only the style is faithful but the mechanics too. This model features the triple crowns, indicating the presence of both an inner rotating bezel and an alarm function.
The steel case of the Polaris Memovox is identical in style and proportions as the Date version, with a 42mm diameter. inside the case is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 956, an automatic movement with alarm and date (just like the 1968 model). Constantly improved, it is a rare example of a movement that has been in production for more than 60 years after its creation.
The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox ref. 9038670 comes with a rubber strap with a new folding buckle and is water resistant to 200 meters. Note that only 1,000 pieces will be produced… BUT, a few pieces will be available for pre-sale during the SIHH on Jaeger-LeCoultre e-shop. Not to say that you’ll have to be fast.
- Case: 42mm, stainless steel – black dial – Water resistance 200m
- Movement: automatic mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 956 – 44 hours power reserve – hours/minutes/seconds, date, alarm, rotating inner bezel
- Price: EUR 10,700 (before taxes)
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date
The second of the vintage-inspired pieces is the 2018 Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date – vintage-inspired indeed, but again, not fully copying past models. Like the original, the Polaris Date uses the same design codes – Vanilla luminous paint to mimic aged tritium, the triangle along with trapezoidal indices mixed with four Arabic numbers, a railway track for the minutes – and features a date at 3 (don’t complain about the date for once, it was present on the vintage model…)
The 2018 Polaris Date has a 42mm case in steel, with two “compressor-style” crowns – one for the movement, one for the inner bezel. It is a serious dive watch too, water resistant to 200m. Available in two different options – rubber strap with clous de Paris pattern (ref. 9068670) or 3-link polished and brushed steel bracelet (ref. 9068170), it features under its plain caseback the calibre 899/1. A glass-box crystal and the engraving of a SCUBA diver on the back finish the vintage touch.
- Case: 42mm, stainless steel – black dial – Water resistance 200m
- Movement: automatic mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 899/1 – 38 hours power reserve – hours/minutes/seconds, date, rotating inner bezel
- Price: EUR 6,400 (before taxes)
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic
Introducing the more modern side of the new Polaris Collection is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic. This watch, more contemporary in its design and functions, still features the iconic two crowns, one for time setting and one for the inner rotating bezel, which could be found on 1960s compressor-style watches. If the indexes and hands are still shaped like the vintage model, they look and feel more up-to-date, as applied on the dial, surrounded by a metallic ring and with white luminous paint.
The dials of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic feature three treatments – sunray, grained and opaline – and will be available in either black or ocean blue. Also, several options for the straps/bracelet will be available (steel or brown leather, including interchangeable straps with a new folding buckle). Inside the 41mm steel case is a no-date movement, the Caliber 898/1. Less technical and more casual than the Date version, it is still water resistant to 100m.
- Case: 41mm, stainless steel – black or ocean blue dial – Water resistance 100m
- Movement: automatic mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 898/1 – 40 hours power reserve – hours/minutes/seconds, rotating inner bezel
- Reference: 9008471 / 9008480 / 9008170
- Price: on leather EUR 5,600 (before taxes) – on steel bracelet EUR 6,300 (before taxes)
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph
The new Polaris collection is not only about diving but all about sports, as demonstrated with the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph. This watch recalls Jaeger dashboard instruments used in many classic cars and motorcycles and the link between the brand and motorsports. This 42mm Polaris Chronograph is the sportiest of the new line and is equipped with a tachymeter bezel.
Again available with a steel bracelet or interchangeable straps, as well as ocean blue (ref. 9028180) or black dial (ref. 9028471), it features a classic bi-compax layout, with 12-hour and 30-minute counters. Sharp edges, rectangular pushers and a thin bezel brings a nice dose of sportiness and modernity. Inside the case is the well-known automatic Caliber 751 (visible through the caseback) with column-wheel. Despite being a motorsports-oriented watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is water resistant to 100m.
It will be available in an 18k rose gold edition with anthracite dial and a specific oscillating weight in rose gold. It is the only precious metal option for the moment in this 2018 Polaris collection.
- Case: 42mm, stainless steel – black or ocean blue dial – Water resistance 100m
- Movement: automatic mechanical chronograph movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751 – 65 hours power reserve – hours/minutes and chronograph
- Price: on leather EUR 8,250 (before taxes) – on steel bracelet EUR 9,000 (before taxes) – in pink gold EUR 20,360 (before taxes)
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT
Last but not least, the most complicated piece in the new Polaris Collection is also the largest of them all – indeed, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT (ref. 905T471) measures 44mm, explained by the presence of a world time complication. However, to keep this watch pleasant on the wrist, its case has been crafted in titanium. It not only features the two chronograph pushers, but it has an additional crown at 10 to control the rotating city disc.
Indeed, this last version in the collection combines a chronograph and a world time function (already seen on AMVOX and Master Compressor Extreme watches) in a legible way. Center dial: chronograph and time. External ring: world time function. Even with so many indications, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT remains surprisingly uncluttered and all this, measuring less than 13mm thick. It is powered by an evolution of the automatic column-wheel chronograph, the Calibre 752. As with the other contemporary versions, it will be available either in black or ocean blue.
- Case: 44mm, titanium – black or ocean blue dial – Water resistance 100m
- Movement: automatic mechanical chronograph movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 752 – 65 hours power reserve – hours/minutes, chronograph, world time
- Price: EUR 12,200 (before taxes)
More details on www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.
Obviously the quality of these watches will impress in the flesh but there seems to be a…messiness about the designs which I find exasperating. Compare these to Longines’ recent heritage pieces, which are right on the money and sigh. And yet another black-dialled watch with a titchy white date wheel? Nothing says “We couldn’t be bothered” more than that.
To the response above, although I like date wheels that match the dial colour, like the one on my Sinn 103 ST SA, what you’ve got to remember with this Polaris recreation is that the white date wheel is an important part of the dial design from 1968….anything other than copying that original look would ruin this for the vast majority of potential buyers.