Jaeger-LeCoultre initially revived their sporty Polaris line back in 2018 and since then it’s seen quite the rapid expansion. Today the line consists of the standard automatic, date models, a Mariner Memovox edition, a handful of chronographs and even a pair of perpetual calendars. But there’s always room for expansion and two new chronograph references are joining the party with slick gradient colourways and lacquer dials.
There are a lot of really good gradient dial watches out there, so many in fact that we could probably fill an entire article with them (I should write that idea down), and mostly they fall into one of two categories. You have your linear gradients like the Spinnaker SP-5104 that transitions from light to dark on a single axis and you have radial gradients that get lighter or darker in a circle towards the edge of the dial. On top of that there’s a subset of gradients known as fumé that specifically fade to black or grey and give the watch a smoky appearance.
The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph doesn’t really fit in any of those categories, at least from a traditional view point. That’s because it has a double gradient whereby there’s a central disc that fades from light to dark before reaching an outer disc that repeats the same pattern again fading into the black of the tachymeter. Individually each section might be described as fumé because it does indeed give a smoky aesthetic (especially on the grain finish of the outer portion) but as a whole it kind of swerves around the normal terminology.
I like the look of it, the way it emphasises the double disc design (which is common to all JLC Polaris watches) and the way it intersects with the chronograph subdials is satisfying to look at. What you can’t really tell from still images is that the exterior portion of the dial with the grained finish is much lighter than the centre, likely because of the different lacquer finishes. There are two colourways available, one in blue and the second in an off-white grey tone. The blue gradient we’ve seen before on time and date versions of the watch but the grey is new for the chronograph.
Structurally, the Polaris Chronograph measures 42mm in diameter and is made from stainless steel making it bold and robust. This leans into the Polaris’ role as JLC’s sport collection, although I suppose you could argue that the Reverso is also technically a sport collection based on its heritage. In keeping with the sporty vibe, it’s presented on a rubber strap with the blue version available with an alternative steel bracelet and the grey one a canvas strap. It’s a great watch and manages to properly feels like a luxury sports watch without relying on that Genta-style industrial design that’s everywhere are the moment (do I dare say overused?).
Under the surface is the JLC Calibre 761, which appears to be the next generation of the calibre 751 from previous Polaris Chronographs. It has a 65-hour power reserve and is equipped with hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph seconds and a 30-minute counter. You can view the Côtes de Genève finishing through the display caseback.
The price – £13,500 or £14,000 depending on colourway – is interesting because you can contextualise it in two very different ways. Looking at the Polaris Chronograph purely as a sporty, steel chrono puts it in competition with watches like the Omega Speedmaster, which at roughly £6,000-£8,000 makes the JLC seem expensive. But if you look at it through the lens of JLC being a prestige brand then perhaps the most accurate comparison would be to a watch like the Vacheron Constantin Overseas chronograph, which is over double the cost at £31,200. It’s Schrodinger’s price, it’s simultaneously great and poor value but becomes one or the other depending on how you look at it with neither result being incorrect.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph
- Ref: Q9028181 (blue), Q902843J (grey)
- Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 13.39mm thickness, stainless steel case blue or grey gradient lacquer dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 761, automatic, 35 jewels, 248 parts
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 65h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, tachymeter
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet (blue) or beige canvas (grey) with additional rubber strap
- Price/availability: £13,500 (grey) and £14,000 (blue)