Jaeger-LeCoul­tre cel­e­brates the 50th an­niver­sary of its first dive watch and in­tro­duces a new col­lec­tion of sports watches, writes PIN LEE

#Legend - - SIHH -


JAEGER- LECOUL­TRE CRE­ATED quite a stir at this year’s event. When the brand’s newly ap­pointed global brand am­bas­sador, tal­ented Bri­tish ac­tor Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, made an ap­pear­ance at the Swiss event, it set so­cial me­dia ablaze. How­ever, it was the brand’s new col­lec­tion of sports watches that re­ally got peo­ple talk­ing.

Afi­ciona­dos of mid-cen­tury dive watches will re­mem­ber Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s first div­ing alarm watch – the Me­movox Deep Sea, a name that res­onates in many col­lec­tors’ minds. Cre­ated in 1959, it fea­tured an alarm to re­mind the diver when it was time to sur­face. In 1965, the Po­laris Me­movox was in­tro­duced. This watch fea­tured a triple-back to im­prove the clar­ity of sound un­der­wa­ter and three crowns – one for the move­ment, one for the alarm and one for the in­ner bezel. In 1968, an up­dated ver­sion was in­tro­duced to great ac­claim.

Fast-for­ward to 2018, which marks the 50th an­niver­sary of the 1968 Po­laris Me­movox, and Jaeger-LeCoul­tre de­cided it was high time to re­vive the dor­mant time­piece. Un­veiled in Geneva, the col­lec­tion of sports watches based on vari­a­tions of the Po­laris theme com­prises five new mod­els: a three-hand au­to­matic, a chrono­graph, a chrono­graph world time, an au­to­matic with date and a Me­movox diver’s alarm watch.

Ac­cord­ing to the brand’s deputy CEO, Ge­of­froy Le­feb­vre, the new Po­laris col­lec­tion isn’t just about re­peat­ing the past. The Po­laris is one of the most revered vin­tage watches among watch en­thu­si­asts, so re­spect­ing its his­tory and prove­nance is para­mount. Driven by in-house move­ments, all watches in the new col­lec­tion – rang­ing in size from 41mm to 44mm – sport a clean case de­sign, an­gu­lar nu­mer­als, and a bold dial that com­bines ap­plied mark­ers with sev­eral fin­ish­ings for depth and def­i­ni­tion.

The star of the col­lec­tion is the limited edi­tion Po­laris Me­movox, with only 1,000 pieces avail­able. This 42mm stain­less steel

watch is a mod­ern take on the 1968 model. It again fea­tures a spe­cial alarm func­tion and car­ries vin­tage de­sign codes such as the trape­zoidal in­dexes, three-sec­tor dial, large hands, three crowns (alarm, in­ner ro­tat­ing bezel and time) and vanilla Su­perLu­miNova mark­ers. The case­back has an en­grav­ing of a scuba diver, while the black dial has three dif­fer­ent fin­ishes – sun­ray in the cen­tre, grain­ing on the outer cir­cle and opa­line on the in­ner bezel – that show­case Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s im­pec­ca­ble qual­ity and work­man­ship. At the heart of this time­piece is an au­to­matic alarm move­ment, pro­vid­ing a power re­serve of 44 hours. The watch comes with a sporty rub­ber strap and is wa­ter­re­sis­tant to 200 me­tres.

Another new nov­elty, the Po­laris Date, is also steeped in vin­tage de­sign codes. An el­e­gant sports watch, it fea­tures a 42mm brushed and pol­ished steel case with two com­pres­sor-style crowns – one for the move­ment and one for the in­ner bezel. It’s fit­ted with ei­ther a rub­ber strap or a three-link bracelet.

The three-hand Po­laris Au­to­matic is per­haps the most straight­for­ward model of the en­tire col­lec­tion. With a smaller 41mm case and two crowns, the three-fin­ished dial – in sun­ray, grained and opa­line, avail­able in black or blue – takes cen­tre stage. In­ter­change­able straps in stain­less steel or leather with a new fold­ing buckle pro­vide mix-and-match op­tions, and it’s water-re­sis­tant to 100 me­tres. Those who pre­fer a more ba­sic watch will find the Po­laris Au­to­matic ap­peal­ing due to its sim­plic­ity as a fuss-free, time-only au­to­matic that still boasts stylish cues from a vin­tage Po­laris, but with­out the com­pli­ca­tions.

Turn­ing from div­ing to driv­ing, the Po­laris Chrono­graph re­calls Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s dash­board in­stru­ments used in many clas­sic cars and mo­tor­cy­cles. This hand­some 42mm chrono­graph is the sporti­est-look­ing of the new line, and is equipped with a tachymeter bezel and con­trast­ing mark­ers that make for easy read­ing. Two bar­rels within the move­ment pro­vide 65 hours of power re­serve. It’s avail­able with a steel bracelet or in­ter­change­able leather straps, with the dial in ei­ther blue or black; an 18K rose gold edi­tion with an­thracite dial is also avail­able.

The most com­pli­cated piece in the new col­lec­tion is un­doubt­edly the ro­bust 44mm Po­laris Chrono­graph WT, which packs both a chrono­graph and a world time com­pli­ca­tion. Its case is crafted in ti­ta­nium, and fea­tures two chrono­graph push­ers and an ad­di­tional crown to con­trol the ro­tat­ing city disc. De­spite all its com­pli­ca­tions, it’s un­clut­tered and mea­sures less than 13mm thick. Pow­ered by an au­to­matic col­umn-wheel move­ment and with a power re­serve of 65 hours, like the other Po­laris mod­els, it comes with ei­ther a black or blue dial.

Apart from the buzz over the Po­laris col­lec­tion, Jaeger-LeCoul­tre hasn’t over­looked one of its most beloved icons: the Rev­erso. Con­sid­ered a clas­sic among clas­sics, the Rev­erso has come in numer­ous it­er­a­tions since its cre­ation in 1931, when it was cre­ated for polo play­ers who wanted the faces of their watches to be pro­tected dur­ing a match.

At SIHH, a brand-new Rev­erso Tribute Duo­face, in a limited edi­tion of 100 pieces, was in­tro­duced with a head­line fea­ture – a two-tone cor­dovan leather strap made by cel­e­brated Ar­gen­tinian boot­maker Casa Fagliano, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion fam­ily busi­ness that’s known for mak­ing the finest hand­made polo boots in the world. This marks the third time that Jaeger-LeCoul­tre has brought out a Rev­erso with a Casa Fagliano strap.

The 49.4mm by 29.9mm rec­tan­gu­lar watch comes in a pink gold case and is driven by the Duo­face con­cept, with two con­trast­ing di­als that can be flipped around to show a dif­fer­ent time zone. The main dial, in sun-brushed satin grey with gold-plated hour mark­ers, dis­plays the hours, min­utes and sec­onds. On the re­verse, the dial is sil­vered with a Clous de Paris guil­loche pat­tern and in­cludes a day-night in­di­ca­tor. Both di­als fea­ture el­e­gant dauphine hands. The move­ment pow­er­ing both dis­plays is the man­u­ally wound Jaeger-LeCoul­tre cal­i­bre 854/2, with a power re­serve of 42 hours.

This page, from top: Po­laris Me­movox; the JLC Cal­i­bre booth at SIHH Pre­vi­ous page: Po­laris Date

Clockwise from top: The Po­laris Chrono­graph WT; Rev­erso Tribute Duo­face with Casa Fagliano strap, front and back views

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