The Polaris Automatic by Jaeger-LeCoultre is the brand’s entry-level sports watch. They’ve done a lot of good things with this watch. To create a new sports watch – a tough watch that can survive all sorts of conditions, and in particular contact with water – they returned to an archive timepiece, the 1968 Memovox Polaris, a diving watch with an alarm function. They used it as inspiration for the design, retained the inner rotating bezel to give it an extra degree of functionality, gave the new piece a 100-metre water resistance rating, and made it easily personalizable by means of interchangeable quick-release straps.
Lots of character
The result to my eyes is quirky, a watch with a fresh new look. The hour numerals have a distinctive graphic design and even though they seem smaller with respect to the trapezoidal hour markers, the dial has an attractive harmony with a lot of character. The dial has differentiated finish, sunray in the centre, grained on the hour marker ring, opaline on the rotating rehaut, and this adds depth and complexity. The two crowns are another unusual feature. The dial doesn’t have a date window, and this makes me very happy. If you prefer to have a date window, the range includes the Polaris Date. The watch is available in two colour variants, black or blue dial.
The case is 41 mm in diameter and 11.2 mm thick, with downward-sloping horns that enable it to hug the wrist nicely. A combination of brushed and polished steel works well with all the strap options that include a new steel bracelet, which has polished H-shaped links with brushed connecting links. Straps have a new folding buckle. As the case is much larger than the movement, there is lots of space on the caseback for the serial number, the brand logo, and the 1,000 hours control lettering that attests to the extensive testing that each watch receives before it reaches the store. Straps and bracelet are fitted with a lever that facilitates release when you want to give the watch a new look.
Internal rotating bezel
The internal rotating rehaut is controlled using the crown at 2 o’clock, and it gives the watch an extra function: timing events, whether dive time underwater, or any time that you want to measure to the nearest minute. You just align the reference triangle on the rehaut with the minute hand at the start of the interval and you’re away.
Calibre Jaeger-LeCoultre 898/E1
The movement is the in-house Jaeger-LeCoultre 898/E1, a self-winding calibre running at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hertz) and providing 40 hours power reserve. The sapphire caseback showcases the oscillating weight in the form of the brand logo, and the finish with Geneva stripes and blued screws. It’s a movement with a long history and back in the day its owners appreciated it for its accuracy and the way that it emitted a small vibration when the weight swung around. That’s probably no longer the case now that the weight is mounted on ceramic bearings, but Jaeger-LeCoultre have improved tolerance to -1/+4 seconds maximum deviation per day which is better than chronometer standards. It has the stop-second function.
Price of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic
And that’s it: for me, the perfect sports watch, with loads of character. Unfortunately it’s still pricey, at €6,850 on plain brown leather strap, €7,000 on alligator strap, €7,700 for the version with the stainless steel bracelet. Available from April 2018. More information from the Jaeger-LeCoultre website.