Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner: Sound of Time

by Pearlyn Quan

The Soundmaker celebrates a distinguished musical legacy with two new models in its iconic Polaris Mariner range.

Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre has two enduring obsessions – the precision of timekeeping and the purity of sound – and it has had exactly 187 years to perfect its technical craftsmanship in pursuit of both.

Known by aficionados as the “watchmaker’s watchmaker”, Jaeger-LeCoultre boasts a legacy of building grand complications incorporating calendars, chronographs and chiming mechanisms.

Before turning his meticulous hand to watchmaking in 1833, founder Antoine LeCoultre was responsible for inventing the Peigne, a comb-shaped keyboard cut from a single sheet of metal which quickly became a standard for almost all music boxes at the time.

Since then, La Grande Maison has developed more than 200 chiming watch calibres, having mastered all forms of chiming mechanism, from relatively simple alarm calibres to the most complex of all – the grande sonnerie and Westminster chimes.

The Voice of Memory

In the mid 20th Century, as people increasingly sought watches with practical functions, Jaeger-LeCoultre drew on its mastery of chiming mechanisms to develop alarm watches. The Maison first introduced its Calibre 489 in a Memovox watch in 1950; and the Memovox (its name, taken from Latin, means ‘voice of the memory’) has since remained the reference in alarm watches for over 70 years.

In 1959, Jaeger-LeCoultre developed a self-winding Memovox movement, which provided an aural warning for divers to return to the surface – essentially the first ever professional diving watch with an alarm functionality to help mitigate the risk of military scuba diving.

Drawing upon this fine heritage of underwater horological expertise, Jaeger-LeCoultre presents two new models that capture the sporty aesthetic of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris collection: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date.

These models are an extension to the existing Polaris family, of which the Mariner collection was notably launched with acclaimed British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as its primary ambassador. An accompanying short film In A Breath is an evocation of the alignment of deep breathing to the sport of diving and the actor’s own meditative practice.

Polaris Mariner Memovox

The robust capabilities and distinctive aesthetic of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox pay direct homage to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first diving watches. Functionality has been enhanced, to be fully compliant with ISO 6425 diving specifications and water-resistant to 300 metres (30 bar), while the concentric rings of the gradient blue dial create a sporty and distinctively contemporary aesthetic.

The self-winding movement, Calibre 956, is a direct descendant of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first automatic alarm watch calibres. With a new peripheral gong designed to allow for a transparent sapphire case-back, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox retains the signature “school bell” sound that lends such charm to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s alarm watches.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox retains the signature three-crown configuration of the earliest Memovox diving watches. The top crown controls the alarm, turning the central disc of the dial so that the triangular pointer lines up with the desired alarm time; the central crown operates the inner dive bezel and the lowest crown sets the time.

Polaris Mariner Date

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date offers the classic diving-watch functions of hours and minutes, with a running time indicator (seconds hand) and unidirectional inner bezel, and the addition of an instantly-jumping date display. The dual-crown configuration is typical of super compressor-type diving watch cases, with the upper crown for operating the inner bezel and the lower one for setting the time and date.

Since Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the Calibre 899, its engineers have constantly updated it to incorporate the latest performance-enhancing technology. The new-generation version powering the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date is fitted with some technical improvements to guarantee a power reserve of 70 hours.

Images courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related links:

Jaeger-LeCoultre: The New Polaris

Jaeger-LeCoultre: The Manufacture of Makers

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