Jaeger-LeCoultre: A Star Is Born
Named for the North Star, the Polaris shines in a new sporty collection from Jaeger-LeCoultre.
In time for the Polaris’ 50th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre released several models this year that celebrate the legacy of the original, which was one of the first watches to feature an alarm function.
Since its introduction earlier this year, all five of the new Polaris models have made their way into Cellini’s showcases, including the Automatic, Date, Chronograph, Chronograph WT (a chrono and world timer combo), and the limited-edition reissue of the Polaris Memovox.
Before those watches found homes on the wrists of happy collectors, Cellini spent time photographing them and, more importantly, getting a sense of how these new watches feel and perform. Each model has its own individual merits, but our favorite of the bunch has to be the Polaris Chronograph and its cousin, the Polaris Chronograph WT.
Before delving into the details that set these particular models apart from their Polaris brethren, it’s important to examine the common thread that holds the entire collection together. All of the new models project a vintage vibe that’s punctuated by tasteful callbacks to the original design, including the distinctive Arabic numerals and trapezoid-shaped hour markers. And while the Polaris’ aesthetic vocabulary takes its cues from the past, the new pieces are thoroughly modern creations.
Inside, the watches are powered by a new generation of automatic movements made in-house by Jaeger-LeCoultre. You can see those meticulously finished calibers in action through the exhibition case-backs in the Polaris Automatic, Polaris Chronograph and Polaris Chronograph WT.
Outside, the case has been completely redesigned with proportions more in line with contemporary sports watches. The changes, which were made to emphasize
utility and comfort, include crowns that are easier to use, as well as streamlined lugs that provide an ergonomic fit.
The bezels are new, too. They now feature a rounded edge and a thinner profile designed to optimize legibility. A side benefit of the new look is that it also opens up the dial, giving it more visual presence on the wrist. This is important because it focuses attention on one of our favorite details of the new Polaris collection — the dial decoration.
The new dials all share the same textured surface, which is actually a sophisticated combination of three different finishes. First, an opaline finish adorns the inner bezel. Next, the circular section populated by the hour and minute markers is grained. And finally, the center has a sunray effect similar to the one used on the original Polaris’ dial.
The Polaris Chronograph and Polaris Chronograph WT both hit that sweet spot between rugged sports watch and elegant timepiece. That being said, each one exhibits its own distinct horological personality.
Unlike all the other models in the collection, the Polaris Chronograph does away with the secondary crown at 2 o’clock, which has been a hallmark of the Polaris for five decades.
This was done to make room for the two easy-to-grip pushers used to engage the chronograph function. What’s interesting is that the watch is water resistant
to 100m, like a certified dive watch. It’s rare to see such a water-friendly chronograph. The main challenge is that the chrono pushers create additional
openings that must be sealed tight enough to keep water out of the case. Luckily, Jaeger-LeCoultre has nearly two centuries of watchmaking expertise
to draw upon to overcome this problem.
Available in several iterations, the Polaris Chronograph comes in steel on a strap or bracelet with either a blue or black dial. There’s also a rose gold version with a gray dial, which is the only watch in the new Polaris collection available in a precious metal.
There is another chronograph in the collection, the Polaris Chronograph WT. Attuned to the needs of worldly watch aficionados, it introduces a world time complication into the mechanical mix.
The crown at 10 o’clock controls the world timer. Turning it rotates the ring on the edge of the dial that lists the names of 24 cities representing the
world’s major time zones. When the city you’re in lines up to the correct hour on the adjacent 24-hour ring, you can see the time in 24 different zones
Despite its robust size, the Chronograph WT’s 44mm case is eminently wearable thanks to its use of lightweight titanium and a relatively low profile — less than 13mm thick.
Like the Polaris Chronograph and Polaris Chronograph WT, the entire Polaris collection proudly celebrates the Grande Maison’s rich horological legacy. But instead of being weighed down by that history, which often happens when brands revisit a beloved classic, the Polaris wisely embraces the present, ensuring this new generation can stand on its own.
Click here to view the Jaeger-LeCoultre collection online at Cellini Jewelers.