Hands-On Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph Review
With the Polaris collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre found a possible solution to attract a younger audience. In the past, the Master Compressor collection was introduced to do that, without much success.
The new Polaris collection is inspired by their 1968 Memovox Polaris, as we explained in this article. We already reviewed the limited edition Polaris Memovox (1000 pieces only), and now it is time to get hands-on with the ‘regular’ collection Polaris Chronograph watch. There are a number of variations, but we asked for the one we liked best, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph on a brown calf leather strap.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph
I was looking forward to giving this Polaris Chronograph a try. At first, I was more focused on the Polaris Memovox model, and that would probably still be my personal choice as I like things to be as close to an original version as possible. But that said, the chronograph would be next in line. I love chronographs, of all sorts of brands, as it underlines a sporty character and it is also one of my favourite complications. It is also an often underrated complication. I remember that a CEO of a watch brand once told me that a tourbillon or perpetual calendar are often higher up the ladder of complications, but developing a chronograph movement is truly a challenge.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph comes in a few variations, but in essence, they are all the same watch aside from the dial colour, case material and strap choice. There’s one exception though, which is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph WT (World Timer). We briefly mentioned it here. In short, Jaeger-LeCoultre offers you some options when you’re in the market for this watch. I selected my personal favourite, the version with a stainless steel case, black dial and on a leather strap. There’s also the option of buying it on an alligator strap, which has the same price tag oddly enough but it makes the watch a bit less versatile in my opinion. Or less vintage looking, which I like.
The Polaris is inspired by the original watch from 1968, and collectors love that, of course.
One of the first things to notice is the finishing of the stainless steel case. The case measures 42mm and has this beautiful satin-brushed finish, with the exception of a very subtle bevel on the lugs. It gives the watch a more sophisticated appearance. The bezel has been polished, giving a wonderful contrast with the case. Also polished are the (signed) winding crown and the chronograph pushers. On the case back we find some engravings indicating the reference number, brand name, serial number, water resistance (10 bar) and the famous 1000 hours of control. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s internal quality control measurements that should ensure a flawless working watch. I say should, but I will address this later. The case back has been fitted with a sapphire crystal, that enables you to have a closer look at the inner workings of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph.
Inside we find the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 751H movement. This movement consists of 262 components and ticks at 28,800bph. As you can see, it has a nice finish (Côtes de Genève), blue screws and you can see the column-wheel mechanism of the chronograph. The rotor has the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo, again finished with Côtes de Genève stripes. As for functionality, the chronograph has a central seconds hands, a 30-minute recorder and an hour recorder. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph does not have a 3rd subdial for the running seconds. You can leave your chronograph running of course, but this will also trigger the subdials to show the elapsed minutes and hours.
Now, as I hinted above, there was one little issue that I had with the chronograph. Or at least I think it is a flaw and not something it was designed to do. When running the chronograph, the minute recorded advanced before the chronograph seconds hand made its one-minute circle. Not by much, but already a few seconds in advance at least. Now, the watches that we receive are often part of a sample collection, that is being used by different journalists or during photo shoots. Truth to be told, not all of our colleagues are careful with the watches they receive (and that’s an understatement). But I am surprised to see that the mechanics aren’t working properly, as opposed to some damage on the case or bracelet that you normally encounter with these sample watches. Anyway, assuming it is a flaw, it is also a good reason to check out the functionality of your new watch as soon as you can.
Sun-ray Brushed Dial
One of the main attractions of this watch is the dial. It shows that Jaeger-LeCoultre put quite some effort into it, as it is actually quite complex. The dial combines several types of surfaces, or finishing, that create an interesting depth. First, there is the opaline rehaut. Then, there’s the outer dial with the hour markers and Arabic numerals. The surface these are applied to, has a grained finish. In the center, you can’t ignore the beautiful sun-ray brushed finish. But wait, there’s even more! The two subdials have this concentric circle pattern and are positioned a bit lower than the central dial. Just below the 12 o’clock hour marker and in the sun-ray brushed part is the applied Jaeger-LeCoultre logo. All hour markers are lumed and so are the baton hands of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph.
Black dial? Brown strap!
Already a long time ago, well relatively, somewhere in the late 1990s, I was of the opinion that a black dial is perfect in combination with a brown strap. Why? Because the contrast gets a bit bigger between the watch and the strap, and you’ll focus a bit more on the dial this way. That’s my theory at least (and proven right so, by myself). Although some people like to have everything in black, blue, brown or whatever the dial colour might be, I like some contrast to be able to focus on the different parts of a watch. In this case, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to put their Polaris Chronograph on a brown leather calf strap. No worries, there’s also a black alligator and stainless steel bracelet. The good news is also, that these straps can be ordered separately via the official Jaeger-LeCoultre website. The calf leather strap is comfortable and comes on a very nice folding buckle.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph reference 9028471 is a cool piece for sure. In my opinion, this Polaris Chronograph is just as far away from their Reverso collection as it is from the bulky Master Compressor watches they discontinued a few years ago (which I didn’t dislike). The Polaris is inspired by the original watch from 1968, and collectors love that, of course. The danger is always in overdoing things, or making the wrong decisions when it comes to design elements. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is a watch that I have little to criticize in that respect. Although I am not a real fan of rectangular chronograph pushers in general, they do fit the watch and I am not even sure I would have preferred round pushers on the Polaris Chronograph.
The retail price is €10.100,-. You will buy a watch from a true manufacture, who will be able to service and repair your watch in decades from now if necessary. I also assume that the little flaw I came across when operating the chronograph is something easy to fix for them. Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of those brands that does most of it in-house, and if something is not available anymore, they will go as far as just re-create a new part (using old machines if necessary). That said, it might not be the way that the bulk of clients look at this. They will find a lot of competition in this price range, also from prestigious brands. In the end, it is a matter of taste, but if the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph matches your taste, you buy something great.
More information via the official Jaeger-LeCoultre website, they also offer their watches for online purchase in some markets.