A Closer Look At The New Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Collection
La Grande Maison adds two new high-performance diving watches to the Polaris collection.
Diving watches are tool watches, and their number one function is to be rugged, reliable, and legible. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still surprise us with a delightful complication.
Paying tribute to both Jaeger-LeCoultre’s diving watch legacy and its expertise in chiming watches, the brand has just announced the addition of a pair of underwater alarm watches to the brand’s Polaris collection (read HERE and HERE).
Introducing two new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner timepieces: the Polaris Mariner Memovox and Polaris Mariner Date.
Of course, Jaeger-LeCoultre is the king of alarm watches. Chiming movements are useful, but they can also be a delicate complication. When the maison introduced the Memovox 70 years ago, it was widely embraced because it was a more than a daily accessory – it was designed to meet the rigors of underwater action.
In the 1950s, when the Memovox was born, scuba diving was largely the preserve of scientific and military activity. Watches were a necessity for divers because they were the only tool available to let you know when it was time to surface. While diving watches evolved to have luminous markers and rotating bezels, in 1959, Jaeger-LeCoultre responded with a unique contribution: a self-winding Memovox movement, which provided an aural warning that it was time to come up for air.
In 1968, the brand introduced the Memovox Polaris with an internal rotating bezel as well as the alarm and a triple-layer caseback for better sound transmission. By then, scuba diving had also evolved into a past time as well as a professional pursuit, and the Memovox Polaris became a popular choice for both urban living and underwater sports.
The new 2020 versions of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner certainly draw on the history of the Memovox Polaris. Both new models – the Polaris Mariner Memovox and the Polaris Mariner Date – meet the strict ISO 6425-compliant specifications of a proper dive watch. But they also have a visual elegance that most tool watches lack.
The 42mm cases balance the visual functionality of a diving watch without overwhelming the wrist. By adapting the key design codes of the Polaris cases – taut lines, glass-box crystals, and a mix of brushed and polished surfaces – Jaeger-LeCoultre keeps the silhouette looking sporty without becoming too chunky.
Though, perhaps the most alluring aesthetics of the timepieces are the dials’ rich gradient-blue color and its typography. The dials, composed of three concentric circles, are finished in different textures: a sunray-brushed center disc, a discreet graining on the middle ring, and an opaline finish for the outer ring, which also serves as the unidirectional rotating bezel.
The face is complex but not confusing. For maximum legibility, there are terrific, trapezoid-shaped indices and three Arabic numerals. The hands, indices, and numerals are filled with Super-LumiNova that stand out in low light. Of course, that’s a requirement for all ISO certified diving watches, but Jaeger-LeCoultre has amped-up diver safety by using different colors to distinguish the hour and minute hands. Plus, the running second hand has been tipped in orange for daylight visibility and also has a central luminescent section to prevent confusion.
More than just a pretty face, the cases for the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date and Polaris Mariner Memovox cases are water-resistant to 300 meters (30 bar). The crown used to set the notched inner-bezel is screwed-down to avoid any unintentional movement and has an orange security band to warn divers when it is not fully screwed down.
Raise The Alarm
The new edition of the Polaris Mariner Memovox features the signature three-crown configuration of the earliest Memovox diving watches. The top crown controls the alarm, turning the central disc of the dial so that the triangular pointer lines up with the desired alarm time. The central crown operates the inner dive bezel, and the lowest crown sets the time.
The self-winding Calibre 956 movement is derived from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first automatic alarm watch calibres. Introduced in 2008, the Calibre 956 has been comprehensively updated for this latest generation of alarm watches because precision is as important to a diver as water protection.
Earlier versions of Memovox watches had a closed caseback to which the gong was attached. The new wave Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox has a see-through sapphire caseback that lets the wearer watch the hammer in action. The gong is now attached to the case side, requiring a complete revision of the striking mechanism. The heavy metal rotor is now open-worked to allow an unobstructed view of the strike-works, as well as the Côtes de Genève decoration.
One important element remains unchanged, however, the charming “school bell” chime of the Memovox alarm.
The Polaris Mariner Date offers hours and minutes, with a running time indicator (second hand) and unidirectional inner bezel, and the addition of an instantly-jumping date display. The dual-crown configuration is typical of super compressor-type diving watch cases, with the upper crown for operating the inner bezel and the lower one for setting the time and date.
The Polaris Mariner Date incorporates the Calibre 899, updated by Jaeger-LeCoultre engineers to incorporate the latest performance-enhancing technology, like a guaranteed 70-hour power reserve.
And while it doesn’t have a wonderous alarm mechanism, it too has a transparent case back so you can admire the fine finishes when you’re not exploring the underwater world.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox Date are available now and are priced at $11,000 and $17,600, respectively.
(Images provided by Jaeger-LeCoultre)