The Polaris Chronograph is one of the five members of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new 2018 Polaris collection. To date, we have seen the new Polaris Geographic World Time and reviewed the entry-level Polaris Automatic, the vintage-inspired Polaris Date and Polaris Memovox models. To complete the pentalogy, we’ll take a look at the Polaris Chronograph. The sportiest of the newcomers, this 42mm chronograph is out to conquer men with its handsome physique and attractive price. Fitted with an in-house chronograph calibre and equipped with a tachymeter scale, the Polaris Chronograph brings a touch of racetrack dynamism to the line-up.
The need for speed
It’s not something a lot of us associate with the brand, but Jaeger-LeCoultre does have a legitimate stake in the world of motorsports and even sponsored the Passione Engadina classic car rally in 2017. The reason behind this alliance is historic and reverts to the start of the 20th century when Jaeger started manufacturing cockpit instruments for Allied Force aeroplanes during WWI and, following the Armistice, branched out into dashboard instruments for cars (Many of the vintage Italian cars at the Passione Endagina rally still bore their original Jaeger dashboard instruments).
The tachymeter scale, designed to measure speed over a fixed distance, brings this Polaris model closer to the race track. Similar to the bi-compax configuration to the Master Chronograph Sector Dial, the chronograph features just two, highly visible sub-dials for elapsed times.
All in the family
The Polaris Chronograph is the epitome of an elegant chronograph and in that respect takes a page directly out of the book of its legendary ancestor, the 1968 Memovox Polaris. When Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Memovox Deep Sea (1959), it made horological history as the world’s first dive watch with an alarm function to remind divers when to surface. Revisited over the years, the model that made the biggest splash and stuck in people’s minds was the 1968 Memovox Polaris. Celebrating 50 years of this iconic model, the 2018 Polaris Collection picks up on the unique personality of its forefather.
Unlike the dive watches of its day, characterised by their bulky cases and external rotating bezels, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Memovox diver was an elegant-looking instrument watch with an unobtrusive inner rotating bezel to set the alarm, an uncluttered dial with luminescent triangular indices and elegant facetted lugs. Dapper to the core, the 1968 Memovox Polaris was a versatile watch that could fathom depths of 200 metres but smart enough to wear to the office.
Like all five members of the 2018 Polaris Collection, the case of this chronograph is hand-finished – and you can tell. The alternating polished and satin-brushed finishes bring an extra touch of class to the watch and are not standard fare in a watch of this price.
The details on the Polaris case are impressive – look at the specific texture of the brushed surfaces, as well as the precise line between polished and brushed parts.
Presented in a diameter of 42mm and available in steel and 18k rose gold, the Polaris Chronograph features redesigned rectangular pushers for a better grip and the classic facetted lugs of its forebear. The choice of keeping the bezel nice and thin is spot on allowing for a more spacious, expansive view of the dial, and the incorporation of the tachymeter scale on the dial (and not on the external bezel) is in keeping with the spirit of its ancestor.
Clarity and Elegance
Legibility is of the essence and the Polaris Chronograph exalts this factor. The intense ocean-blue dial (also available with a black dial) provides an effective contrast to the white markings on the dial. With its bi-compax sub-dials for elapsed hours and minutes, the design dispenses with the incorporation of a small seconds counter and the distraction of a date window allowing the functions of the chronograph to prevail.
Composed of concentric circles decorated with different textures to add depth, the centre of the dial exhibits a sleek, sunray finish, while the hours and minutes disc is grained giving it an almost gritty, asphalt racing track feel. In keeping with the overall elegance of the watch, the tachymeter scale has been incorporated on the dial and not on the bezel.
The three different finishes applied to the dial are clearly visible here – sunray brushed pattern in the centre, grained on the hour track, opaline on the tachymeter scale.
The oversized trapezium-shaped markers and bold Arabic numerals of the iconic 1968 model are revisited on the Polaris Chronograph in a more contemporary key. Applied to the dial and outlined for extra relief, the indices shrink in size where the sub-counters invade the hours and minutes disc. And like the hands, they are all treated with Super-LumiNova.
JLC’s famous Calibre 751
The new Polaris Chronograph is equipped with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s automatic Calibre 751, a veteran double-barrel chronograph first launched in 2004 for the Master Compressor chronograph (and more recently in the Master Chronograph Sector Dial), and the first automatic chronograph movement produced by the brand.
A column wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch – the best possible combination for an accurate and reliable movement – Calibre 751 animates the twin chronograph counters (30-minute and 12-hour sub-dials – no small second) the central seconds, hours and minutes and offers a 65-hour power reserve. The movement is decorated in classic Jaeger-LeCoultre style with Geneva stripes, blued screws, bevelled angles and a modern anthracite-coated rotor.
Variations on a theme
The Polaris Chronograph with the ocean-blue dial is available with a three-link steel bracelet or a supple calfskin strap. Thanks to a bar system on the lugs, the bracelet and strap can be exchanged in a jiffy. The steel on steel version retails for EUR 10,800 while the steel with calfskin retails for EUR 9,900 (incl. VAT) – both for the blue or the black version.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is also available with a classic black dial, under the reference 9028471
There is also an 18k rose gold version of the Polaris Chronograph retailing for EUR 24,500. The price varies slightly according to geographical location, so please be sure to consult the brand webpage for the official price in your country: www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.