When historic watchmaking house Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Memovox Polaris half a century ago, it became a design icon of the 1960s. This innovative diving watch with alarm was equipped with a patented triple case-back system to optimise the diffusion of sound under water. Its spirit of adventure is the inspiration for the new Polaris collection, to be launched this April.
The new timepieces combine Jaeger-LeCoultre’s manufacturing prowess – all the mechanical movements are made in-house – with an elegant and sporty aesthetic, and a subtle vintage feel, creating a robustly stylish, contemporary choice for an active lifestyle.
The distinctive dial architecture features a mixture of finishings on three concentric circles – a centre with a sunray finish, graining on the outer circle containing the hours and minutes in classic Arabic numerals and contemporary indices, and an opaline finish on the rotating inner bezel. The hands are large and filled with Super-LumiNova for clear visibility in dim light.
Referencing the original version’s black dial, the latest iterations are available in black or ocean blue, and steel cases mix brushed and hand-polished surfaces – and rose gold with anthracite dial for the chronograph – with distinctive lugs and thin bezels. The large crowns, emblematic of the 1968 model, have been redesigned for a better grip. A newly designed three-link metal bracelet, with brushed and polished surfaces is interchangeable with both alligator and calfskin straps.
The collection comprises an initial five models, with one limited edition in tribute to the Memovox’s 50th anniversary. The Polaris Automatic, at 41mm, is a handsome stainless-steel three-hander, featuring two crowns, one for time setting, the other for the inner rotating bezel, which tracks elapsed time. Water resistant to 100 metres, the Automatic’s power reserve is 40 hours.
The 42mm Polaris Chronograph is the sportiest of the new line, featuring a tachymeter bezel, allowing speed to be determined over a fixed distance. The chronograph subdials offer good readability, and the power reserve is 65 hours. This version is also available in rose gold, featuring an anthracite dial and oscillating weight in rose gold.
An attractive companion for global nomads, the Polaris Chronograph WT offers the world time complication. The 44mm model is housed in a titanium case for lightness and features the two chronograph pushers plus an additional crown at 10 o’clock to control the rotating city disc – which you can set to local time then instantly see the time in 23 other cities round the world.
The Polaris Date has the same design codes as the original Polaris from 1968 – vanilla colour Super-LumiNova, Arabic numbers mixed with indices and a ‘railway track’ for minutes – also featuring the date at 3 o’clock. Its 42mm case features a raised crystal glass, evoking its vintage inspiration. This serious sports watch, water resistant to 200 metres, has a closed case-back with an engraving of a scuba diver, similar to the engraving found on the inner case back of the original model. It has a rubber strap with a Clous de Paris pattern, also available with the new three-link bracelet, and a power reserve of 38 hours.
Then there’s the new Polaris Memovox, issued in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. With its vintage design cues, this model features the special alarm function found on the original and has a three-crown design, for the alarm, rotating bezel and setting the time. The movement is a direct descendant of the first automatic alarm watch calibre created by the house in the 1950s, a rare example of a movement that has been in production for more than 60 years, constantly updated. The latest version features a striking mechanism with a gong, along with the central seconds and instant-jump date-change system.
With a starting price of £5,950, this is a classic collection that shines like its namesake, Polaris, the North Star – the brightest celestial body in the night sky.