The story of how a 1968 classic turned into five modern sports watches
Last week at SIHH 2018, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled the new Polaris collection. There are five new watches in total, and each is inspired by the original 1968 diver’s alarm Polaris, a classic if there ever was one, though there are lots of new little features and design traits too. It’s never easy to take something beloved and do something different with it, but here JLC has created a set of thoroughly modern sports watches while also paying tribute to its history.
Ahead of the watches’ release, we visited the manufacture in Le Sentier to speak with both Geoffrey Lefebvre, Deputy CEO, and Lionel Favre, Director of Product Design, about why now is the right moment for the Polaris to be reborn in such a big way, how they approached reviving and building on the original, and what interesting challenges presented themselves along the way. This is the story about how the collection came to be and what makes each watch worth a closer look.
The Polaris Automatic
This is the most basic model in the new Polaris collection. It’s a simple three-hander in a 41mm stainless steel case that you can pair with either a leather strap or a matching stainless steel bracelet. All the open space really gives you the room to appreciate the three-finish dial and the applied numerals and markers. That it wears really well on the wrist makes this one a winner top to bottom.
The Polaris Date
If you want something just a tiny bit more complex, there’s the Polaris Date. This adds – you guessed it – a date window at three o’clock, but that’s not all. The case is also slightly larger at 42mm and the numerals and markers are a vanilla color to add a touch of vintage charm. This model is also available on a comfortable black rubber strap with a Clous de Paris pattern, which gives it that old-school dive watch feel.
The Polaris Memovox Limited Edition
This watch probably looks a little familiar. It’s the closest thing in the collection to a re-edition of the original 1968 Polaris, packing both a mechanical alarm and all the dive watch bells and whistles. All the finishes of the new collection are present, but the overall styling is very much like that of the original. There are only 1,000 pieces of this limited edition being made, and it’s sure to be popular.
The Polaris Chronograph
Departing from the original dive watch formula, the Polaris Chronograph takes the aesthetic cues of the collection but applies them to a very different complication. This two-register chronograph has 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers on either a contrast black or striking blue dial. In particular, when this watch is paired with the steel bracelet it really shines.
The Polaris Chronograph WT
At the most complicated end of the spectrum is the Polaris Chronograph WT. Packed into the 44mm titanium case is a chronograph, a GMT complication, and a worldtimer, but the dial has been smartly designed so as to remain extremely legible despite all the information present.
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