The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is a superb watch, with a clear dial, sapphire caseback, 100 metres water resistance, movement with column wheel and vertical clutch, and easily interchangeable straps. Its price makes it relatively unaccessible to most people but it is a dream of a watch. It celebrates the classic 1968 Polaris Memovox in its design cues, and Jaeger’s long history as a manufacturer of car dashboard instruments. During the First World War, Edmond Jaeger decided to diversify and began making cockpit instruments for the British and French air forces, in cooperation with Jacques-David LeCoultre. After the war, Jaeger and LeCoultre went on making instruments for car dashboards, working principally for the British market. They even set up a manufacturing unit in London specially for this business. This was well before Jaeger and LeCoultre finally created their brand together, in 1937. This watch celebrates Jaeger-LeCoultre’s connection to the automotive sector.
42mm steel case
Like all the watches in the Polaris collection, the Polaris Chronograph has an attractive case with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces, and a narrow bezel that maximises the space on the dial. It’s 42 mm in diameter and 11.9 mm thick. The water resistance rating of 100m makes it a great sports watch. The lugs slope down steeply so that it sits nicely on the wrist. The chronograph pushers have a very nice unobtrusive and streamlined design.
One of the things that Jaeger-LeCoultre are doing particularly well at the moment is the interchangeable straps. There is a small lever behind the lug that you can use to remove a strap and change it for another. There are lots of straps available on the Jaeger-LeCoultre website. The alligator and calfskin straps have a folding buckle with the same polished and brushed surfaces that appear on the watch case.
The dial is great. It has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. The numerals and the chunky hour markers are derived directly from the original 1968 Polaris Memovox that provides the inspiration for the new collection. The hour markers and hands are coated in SuperLuminova. The two subdials are for 30 chronograph minutes on the right and 12 chronograph hours on the left. There’s no continuous seconds hand. The dial has differentiated finish, sunray in the centre, snailed on the subdials, grained on the hour marker ring, and opaline on the tachymeter scale on the bezel rehaut. No date window. That takes courage.
There’s a good reason for not having a continuous seconds hand. The calibre 751 movement has a column wheel and a vertical clutch (more watches like this are compared here), which means that you can leave the chronograph running for as long as you want without any problems of wear, using the chronograph second hand as a running second hand. The column wheel ensures smooth pusher operation. The balance runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and the watch has a power reserve of 65 hours. You can see the movement through the sapphire caseback.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph in rose gold
The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is the only watch in the new collection also available in precious metal, rose gold. It looks great with the anthracite dial and the brown alligator strap. What I can’t understand is the price. I would guess that the value of the gold in a watch like this would be between €2,000 and €3,000 but the watch costs an extra €13,000 with respect to the steel version. Perhaps there is a good reason for this.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph with vintage-style brown leather strap costs €10,100 inclusive of tax, reference 9028471 with black dial, reference 9028480 with blue dial. With black alligator strap, it costs €10,200, reference 9028470 with black dial. With steel bracelet, €11,000, reference 9028170 with black dial, reference 9028180 with blue dial. The rose gold version with brown alligator strap, reference 9022450, costs €24,900. Available from April 2018. Further info from the Jaeger-LeCoultre website.