When Jaeger-LeCoultre launched its Polaris collection in 2018 it did so with a handful of sporty-looking watches, rather than sports watches. The selection of five distinct models (Automatic, Date, Memovox, Chronograph and Chronograph Worldtimer) definitely lean in a colourfully casual direction but, as the collection was based on the brand’s lusted after Memovox Polaris Super Compressor diver of 1968, the lack of a serious diver was a glaring omission.
Thankfully Jaeger-LeCoultre has been working to correct the oversight and now reveals not one but two new dive watches, which conform to the ISO 6425 standard, under the suitably aquatic Polaris Mariner banner. While these watches, the Polaris Mariner Memovox and the Polaris Mariner Date, are much more in the spirit of the original Polaris, they are not slavish heritage recreations but modernised takes on a classic.
They also happen to be modelled on the wrists of newly-inducted Jaeger-LeCoultre ambassador (and second best Sherlock) Benedict Cumberbatch. If you ever though he was just an actor, more fool you! He also swims, apparently.
For instance, the Polaris Mariner Memovox, which features Jaeger-LeCoultre’s famed mechanical alarm complication, has a sapphire crystal caseback. While this allows an unobstructed view of the watch’s Calibre 956 movement it also presented the brand’s watchmakers with something of a challenge. Memovox watches have, until now, attached their gong to a solid metal caseback, often using two or three layers to increase the alarm’s volume.
Jaeger-LeCoultre instead had to re-engineer the movement’s entire striking mechanism, attaching the gong to the interior wall of the case while preserving the Memovox alarm’s signature ‘school bell’ sound. Thanks to a skeletonised winding rotor you’ll now be able to see this in action too.
Both watches also feature inner rotating bezels, one of the signature features of the original Super Compressor watches, but here too the function has been revisited and improved. Inner rotating bezels usually offer a smooth rotation controlled by turning a dedicated crown, as opposed to the click system of external bezels.
This meant that the slightest contact with that crown could move the bezel unintentionally, a potentially hazardous design flaw if you were relying on its countdown functionality to time your dive, as owners might have in the 1960s.
Here Jaeger-LeCoultre has not only added a more tactile notched rotation to the bezel but has added a thread to the crown tube, meaning it can be securely screwed into place after the bezel has been set.
A high visibility orange ‘security band’ has also been added to the tube to ensure that the owner is aware if the crown has yet to be screwed-down, consequently, both watches are now water resistant to 300m. The orange theme, which differentiates the Mariner models from their 2018 cousins, is continued with a triangular marker at the 12 o’clock, dot minute markers, the tip of the seconds hand and the luminous colour of the minute hand.
The only visual differences between the two 42mm stainless steel watches are the third crown and triangular alarm marker of the Polaris Mariner Memovox model (which is also just over 2mm thicker) JLC Pbut the Polaris Mariner Date’s Calibre 899 boasts a substantially more useful 70-hour power reserve over the 45 hours offered by the Memovox.
Given that Jaeger-LeCoultre chose to introduce a different naming convention for just two watches, I suspect Polaris Mariner might become a sub brand within the Polaris range leading more Polaris divers in the near future.
Price & Specs:
Model: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox Mariner & Polaris Mariner Date
Ref: Q9038180 (Memovox); Q9068180 (Date)
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter x 15.63mm height, stainless steel (Memovox)
42mm diameter x 13.92mm height, stainless steel (Polaris Mariner Date)
Water Resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 956, automatic, 23 jewels (Memovox)
Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 899, automatic, 32 jewels (Date)
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 45h (Memovox), 70h (Date)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, unidirectional rotating inner bezel, alarm (Memovox only)
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price/availability: £15,800 (Memovox) and £9,900 (Date)
More details at Jaeger-LeCoultre.