Despite the fact that I've never owned one (and can't pronounce its name), Jaeger-LeCoultre is a brand that I revere. It doesn't hold high appeal with the mainstream, or hype culture crowd, but maybe that is part of its appeal to me. My only complaint is that in recent years, the brand has cut back a lot of its catalog. It seems to be mostly moving away from the fun and innovative sports watches towards those that are more traditional. Its current catalog is full of beautiful dress watches that I'd love to wear to a formal event, but not those that I would find myself wearing every day.
There are a few exceptions, however, and the Polaris Date is one of them. Its a watch that I would wear frequently, and aspire to own - if I owned one that is. Unfortunately, I don't own the watch pictured here, but I was lucky enough to borrow a Green Boutique Edition for long enough to write a review.
The first thing that stood out to me, and is very difficult to capture in photos, is how stunning that the dial looks in bright light. It features two concentric circles, each of which uses a lacquer combined with a fume effect to give a drastic gradient from almost black, to a deep olive green at the centers.
The inner circle uses a sunburst finish under the lacquer, while the outer circle features a more organic-looking irregular texture. A matte green ring with concentric circles and minute markers divides the two.
The deep green finish steals the show and causes you it take a second or third look at the watch before you start to notice the rest of it.
After studying the dial more carefully, you'll start to notice the other fine details. Applied, and highly-polished hour markers are evenly filled with creamy Super-LumiNova (likely C3, as it glows bright green). Large numerals at 12, 6, and 9 aid legibility, as do the large hands. The triangle on the rotating bezel is also lumed.
Said hands also have intricate finishing applied. Very sharp grooves down the centers house the lume as well as a sandblasted finish. This helps to contrast the highly polished top surfaces and also aids in legibility in all light conditions.
Orange highlights on the rotating inner bezel as well as the tip of the second hand add to the sporty character of the watch and also contrast nicely against the green.
The case finishing, as you might expect, is also impressive. Sharp edges bisect brushed surfaces with polished chamfers on the lugs, and sharp steps separate the case from the polished bezel. The intersections of the lugs and case are also extremely sharp.
Wearing the Polaris Date
The JLC Polaris Date wears visually larger than other 42mm watches due to its thin bezel. That being said, it is extremely comfortable and sits well on the wrist. The lugs are very compact (lug-to-lug distance is only 47.5mm), and it wears thinner than the 13.1mm thickness indicates, as part of that height is from the vintage-style boxed sapphire crystal.
My only small complaint is that the internal rotating bezel does not have a screw-down crown or ratcheting mechanism. The benefit is that it is quick to use when needed. The problem is if you're anal like me about your bezels lining up perfectly, it is easy for it to get bumped slightly out of place.
The supplied rubber strap is exceptionally comfortable and feels nearly as soft as silicone but without the dust attraction. Being that it is fitted to the case, it secures the watch well for its lightweight and thinness.
It is mounted to a friction-close double deployant with finishing to match the case.
As you'd expect of a movement made by the watchmaker's watchmaker, the JLC Calibre 899 is beautifully finished. This reference Q906863J features an improved version of the revered caliber. The escapement is changed to silicon, and other energy-saving enhancements have been made, such as an improved barrel design, which has increased its power reserve to 70 hours. It also had the crispest and loudest date change that I have ever heard. It occurs perfectly as the minute hand hits midnight, naturally.
Constructed from 218 components, the movement is part of JLC's Control series, which tests assembled watches for 1000 hours in a number of conditions before delivery to the customer. This allows JLC to offer an impressive eight-year warranty.
I've been an admirer of the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand for some time, and wearing one for a day only increased my desire to own one. At nearly $10,000, it's very expensive, but it also felt like I was wearing a $10,000 watch. It made me question why people spend this much money (or more) for much less interesting dive watches when you could have something with a dial and finishing like this.
My theory is that some of JLC's designs are unconventional, and the brand has had an inconsistent brand identity over the last 10 to 15 years. It seems, however, to have moved from experimental and somewhat wild designs to more conventional styles in more recent years. This will likely help its mass appeal, but I miss some of the older designs.
Either way, if you're in the market for a $10,000 dive watch, you owe it to yourself to take a look at JLC!
What are your thoughts on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date Green Boutique Edition? Do you have a favorite $10k dive watch? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
Name: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date
Reference Number: Q906863J
Lug Width: 20mm
Movement: Calibre 899
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Water Resistance: 200m
Crystal: Domed sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Crowns: Time setting: screw-down. Inner bezel: non-screw-down
Bezel: Internal, bidirectional
Strap: Rubber with deployant