The Polaris collection by Jaeger-LeCoultre was big news at SIHH, and the new Polaris Memovox is an important part of this new series of watches. They are all significant in that they mark a new departure for the brand, accessible sports watches. The new Memovox is visually based on the 1968 Memovox Polaris reference E859, an exceptional diving watch with an alarm designed to be heard underwater. Only 1,714 pieces were made and so it has become a collector’s piece. It had a triple caseback with 16 holes, so that a diver could both hear the alarm underwater and feel the vibrations. It was an interesting concept designed to perform a specific function.
The new Polaris Memovox shares the triple crown and the overall layout of the E859, but with a more contemporary balance, with larger numerals and smaller hour marker batons. It is the only watch in the Polaris collection already available in boutiques, and it is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. It’s fairly large at 42 mm, and above all it’s thick, 15.9 mm, due in part to the caseback that incorporates the sound-diffusion equipment. Its black dial has three differentiated finishes, sunray, grained, and opaline, and it creates an attractive contrast with the vintage-look luminescent paint. The top crown is used to adjust the alarm time, displayed on the inner part of the dial with the small triangle, which rotates and is read with reference to the adjacent scale, while the bottom crown manoeuvres the inner rotating bezel with the minutes scale.
Sports watch DNA
The characteristics of the new Polaris collection are more of general-purpose sports watches than of specifically diving watches. Nonetheless the Polaris Memovox has a water resistance of 20 bar, 200 metres, so it can be taken into the water without any fear or trepidation. The elements coated in SuperLuminova enable the alarm time to be consulted at night.
The rubber strap slopes down from the lugs, ensuring comfortable wear on the wrist and durability in whatever setting, whether everyday, underwater or sports. It has a clou de Paris texture and a steel folding buckle. The crown at 2 o’clock is used to adjust the the alarm time, and also to wind the mainspring dedicated to this function.
The caseback has an engraving based on the 1968 Memovox, and a text celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The watch is powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 956, a self-winding movement with 268 components, running at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hertz). Using the alarm function is very simple. The alarm ring mechanism has a separate mainspring and it is hand-wound, performed by winding the crown at 2 o’clock. To set the alarm, pull out this crown and rotate counter-clockwise, and the arrow on the dial moves counter-clockwise. If you turn the crown clockwise, the date changes. The user has to get used to this: it can be easy to inadvertently change the date instead of adjusting the alarm time. You can set the alarm to any time up to 12 hours ahead. There is no on-off switch for the alarm: if you want to deactivate it, you have to reset the alarm time to the current time, push the crown back in and wait while the alarm rings. The sound itself is a sort of metallic buzz, lasting from about ten to twenty seconds.