BY ERIK SLAVEN
Jaeger-LeCoultre may not be a member of the “Holy Trinity,” but the watchmaker has created some iconic collections and movements since its founding in 1833. The brand is a master of haute horology and the latest Polaris Perpetual Calendars at Watches & Wonders are perfect examples. The dials are complicated, but also balanced without being cluttered. All information is easy to find and nothing is superfluous. An in-house automatic runs the show and represents the best of traditional watchmaking with incredible finishing, complexity and accuracy. JLC is certainly not the only watchmaker with such a piece, but nobody does it better.
There are two models separated by case metals and dial accent colors (and strap options). There’s stainless steel for a sporty, everyday wear vibe and pink gold for a dressier aesthetic. Both are 42mm in diameter and 11.97mm thick, so definitely larger than a standard dress watch, but not overwhelming. With the Polaris collection’s dual crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock, the pair have a Super Compressor look that matches the sporty dimensions. Water-resistance is only 100 meters, so it’s not a true Super Compressor, but you can still confidently swim with it. The outer bezel is rounded and narrow, and sits below the box sapphire crystal. This provides an all-dial look and allows the black inner rotating bezel to be prominent. The crown at 2 o’clock rotates the bezel, while the one at 4 o’clock winds the movement and sets the time. A recessed pusher at 8:30 sets the calendar functions and an indicator just above the handset in the center warns when it’s unsafe to set the movement (between 8PM and 4AM). A sapphire exhibition case back displays the in-house caliber. The case is mostly brushed with a polished bezel and bold chamfers on the lugs, and the optional H-link steel bracelet for the steel model has brushed center links with polished outer links. A textured navy blue rubber strap with deployant buckle is an option for both models, while a dressy blue alligator strap is available for the gold model.
Both models feature a textured, midnight-blue gradient dial with a lacquered finish and four recessed sub-dials at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The two at 12 and 6 o’clock have multiple complications, while the pair at 3 and 9 o’clock have single functions. Again, there’s a lot going on, but it’s well balanced. A pointer date sits at 9 o’clock, while days of the week sit at 3 o’clock. Months of the year are shown at 12 o’clock with the year also displayed via two windows, while a traditional moonphase sits at 6 o’clock for the northern hemisphere. A second, retrograde pointer at the bottom half shows the moonphase for the southern hemisphere. A few colored accents, such as the tip of the seconds hand and day 31 on the 9 o’clock sub-dial, are orange on the steel model and red on the gold. This subtle difference matches the respective metals. The hour and minute baton hands are skeletonized with Super-LumiNova inserts at the ends, while the familiar (for Polaris) angled applied indices also have lume inserts. The seconds hand has a bit of lume as well.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s in-house caliber 868AA automatic perpetual calendar moonphase keeps everything harmoniously working together. The perpetual calendar is accurate to the year 2100 and the movement beats at 4Hz with a 70-hour power reserve. Of course, all months and leap years are seamlessly handled. As expected, hand finishing is impeccable with Côtes de Genève, perlage, blued screws and a pink gold open-worked rotor.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar retails for USD 29,600 in steel and USD 44,300 in gold. These represent the pinnacle of the Polaris collection and the prices reflect that, and they’re certainly reasonable for what’s being offered. Visit Jaeger-LeCoultre here.