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Jaeger-LeCoultre - Polaris Memovox 50th anniversary

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox 50th anniversary

Rebirth of a Legend

In 2018, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated one of its many noteworthy milestones — the 50th anniversary of the famed Memovox Polaris. The original reference from 1968 was a ground-breaking watch, and one that combined the brand’s mechanical alarm complication with a compressor-style case that used an internal timing bezel. This reference was not the brand’s first diver’s model equipped with an alarm, as the Memovox Deepsea first appeared in 1959. The key difference here is in bezel design, as well as the requirement for a third crown: one to set the time, one for the alarm, and one for the internal timing bezel.

The original Memovox Polaris never really “made it” in terms of commercial success, whether on account of cost, size (the original measured 42mm across, which was large for the time) or a lack of interest in the concept. While there isn’t an official record, it is thought that only 1,714 ever made it to market. In 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre brought two limited re-editions to market that was more closely aligned with the original, fitted with an acrylic crystal and a printed dial. The 1968 re-issue was produced in a run of 768 units in steel, and the 1968 re-issue in a run of 65 units in platinum. 

Polaris Memovox 50th anniversary

Polaris Memovox © Jaeger-LeCoultre


When looking at the 50th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre opted for a different approach. The brand was due for a new sports watch collection, and the Polaris was fleshed out into a more complete series, with the limited edition Polaris Memovox as the halo watch of the collection. Though its overall aesthetics remain true to the original in spirit, its dial is vastly more refined, using a mix of smooth and textured surfaces, as well as the introduction of applied indices. A healthy amount of Super-LumiNova® is applied to both the indices and hands for improved legibility, including a lumed triangle on the internal timing bezel and the alarm disc. Its caseback also loses its three-piece case construction, as the brand has further developed its alarm complication and no longer needs a separate caseback chamber to help amplify its sound output.

Out of convention

The details that remain true-to-spec fall in line with the principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The modern Polaris Memovox delivers the same 200m water resistance as its 1968 counterpart, which is more than adequate for any activity outside saturation diving. The use of three crowns is also retained, giving the watch its own distinct profile and character. Its case diameter is once again 42mm, though it is now offered on a flush-fit rubber strap with a double-fold butterfly clasp. While not compact by any means, the short lugs of its case profile make the diver fit comfortably on a wide range of wrist sizes.

Long known as “the watchmaker’s watchmaker”, Jaeger-LeCoultre naturally designed and manufactured the calibre powering the new Polaris Memovox. Self-winding Calibre 956 was first produced for the earlier re-editions in 2008 and has lived on in a variety of different watches since that time. Boasting a power reserve of 44 hours, the 7.47mm thick calibre runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and is built from 271 individual components. It is fitted with a quick-set date complication, alongside running hours, minutes, seconds, and its mechanical alarm. Rather than opting for COSC certification, the Polaris Memovox is subjected to the brand’s 1000 Hours Control testing regimen. This six-week testing period checks for accuracy in six positions, as well as confirming power-reserve capability, accuracy in temperature fluctuation, and water resistance, ensuring that the watch is capable of living up to the rigours of daily wear and tear.

Polaris Memovox 50th anniversary

Polaris Memovox © Jaeger-LeCoultre

Once again a less-than-conventional offering in the dive watch category, the Polaris Memovox in any form has a charm that really defies convention. The idea of a mechanical alarm and the trio of crowns might make one think that this is more of a technical exercise and less of a technically focused tool watch, but one must remember that this watch surfaced during the height of dive watch innovation. Without digital dive computers, professional divers needed a safe and reliable solution to ensure that they would not be caught underwater for longer than planned — a situation with a significant risk of either injury or fatality. While these tools are admittedly no longer required for diving in its current form, that connection to history remains. 

While 2018 Polaris Mariner Memovox was issued in a worldwide edition of only 1,000, we’re thankful that it was not the last of its kind. The brand has since unveiled the Polaris Memovox Mariner with a gradient blue dial as part of its core collection. As an added bonus, this latest model is available on a steel bracelet, and its water resistance has been increased to 300m

*Written by Justine Mastine-Frost

This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the divers watch since 2000 in The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch is available in both French and English here:


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Jaeger-LeCoultre: HOME OF FINE WATCHMAKING SINCE 1833. Located in the serene setting of the Vallée de Joux, our Maison radiates a unique sense of belonging. The soul of La Grande Maison is formed here, inspired by the exceptional landscapes of the Jura Mountains, guided by an unquenchable inner fire. With all crafts under one roof within the Manufacture, watchmakers, engineers, designers and artisans work together to give birth to fine...

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