Some days ago, my Polaris came back from the Service Center, and I had the idea to make a review about it.
11 months waiting for it, but the waiting is worth it!!!
So, I think this is the moment and the occasion to speak about this charismatic model, under an historical point of view ( Part I ), and about this model, in particular ( part II ).
Part 1, some historical datas.
With the launch of the Polaris, in the earlies 60's, JLC gave birth to a Myth.
JLC had some experiences in the waterproof watches in the 30's, and in '56, made the 1st automatic caliber with an alarm, the cal 815.
So, the first automatic waterproof watch with an Alarm was a Jaeger Lecoultre, the " Memovox Deep Sea" also called " Memovox Deep Sea Alarm".
It was a watch produced till '62, in 1061 pieces.
It was a 39mm case with a outside bezel
The Caliber was the 815, automatic movement, 18 000 vibrations per hour, and around 50 hours of power reserve.
The case back is very nice, with an engraving of a diver and the inscription:" Deep Sea Alarm Automatic".
Here is the pic of the US model:
The Case Back and the movement:
And the European model:
You will notice the difference with another very nice watch, The Universal Sub Pole router,which is also an automatic diving watch, with a similar esthetic, but not an alarm.
Here, Steve G's pics:
In 1961 came another watch, that may be considered as well as the Polaris, with a special case, case back, and look, the Vulcain Cricket Nautical.
Have a look at the case, you'll see that it's the same than the Polaris, the same construction.
Professor Hannes KELLER is also to be credited as he participated on the creation of the Vulcain Nautical...
Here's the Ad:
The Vulcain and the JLC share the same case, built and conceived by Ervin PIQUEREZ, who brevetted his invention in 1956.
So, Mr Piquerez is to credit clearly for his invention.
This construction allows the watch to be waterproof to 200 meters, ( instead of 100 meters with the Memovox Deep Sea Alarm)
In ' 62, JLC works on the Polaris project, and made 50 prototypes in '63.
The Reference E859 was born, officially called Memovox de plongée.
The Polaris name was given to this watch by the american division of Jaeger Lecoultre, maybe because of the missile of the same name, The Polar Expeditions,or the name of the star, who really knows???
We can say that there were several models of what I'd call the Polaris I: Different dials; with different hands too.
This one is the last...The hands were controversed, but the Historic Department of JLC told me that there were on the 50 last Polaris sent to an Italian retailer.
And a last one, probably the most rare of the Polaris, made in 9 pieces, with the same hands, the same big painted indexes, but with a different presentation of the indexes of the alarm subdial , in the middle of the main dial.
Sorry, but I have no pic of this beauty I only saw in a catalog.
The Case back is specific to the Polaris and the Vulcain Cricket...You can see 16 littles holes, to amplify the ring , and to allow the diver to feel the vibration under the water.
Inside, you have another case back in bronze to allow some amplification to the alarm, with a Compressor Logo engraved inside....Compressor, does the name mean something for you?...
The watch housed the cal 825 , which is big in size (31,58mm X 7, 50 mm),18 000 vibrations per hour, and 50 hours of power reserve.
The Polaris will be produced, proto apart, from 1965 till 1970, in 1714 pieces.
And it doesn't have to be confused with the Master Mariner Deep Sea, which also is a diving watch, but without alarm...( made From '68 till 72 with the reference E 558)
Here the pic of the US model, a bit Funky:
The European model:
Pic taken in the Heritage Gallery:
Another cleaner pic:
Macro of the dial:
Then 1970 was the end of the Polaris, and the Polaris II was launched the same year till '72, 1120 pieces, with the Caliber 916, High Frequency 28 800 Vibrations per Hour, which is the " Father " of the recent caliber of the Master Memovox Compressor.
Pic of the Ad:
Pic of the watch:
Part II: The Review of the E 859.
So, my Polaris is the'68 American Model.
It comes in a typical packaging for this period, a small green box, very easy to stock, with the Owner's manual and the papers of the watch ( Sadly I have all, excpet the papers of this era).
Pics of the Packaging:
Its size was something special in the '60s where the watches weren't bigger than an average of 36mm.
The case, invented by Piquerez has this specificity to present 3 crowns, one, on the top, for the setting of the alarm, the one on the middle, for setting the intern bezel, and the last one for setting the hour and the date, which need to go backward and forward, between 10 PM and 3 AM...not very pleasant, but, hey, these are Vintage... That sytem is still nowadays used in the Amvox I !
Pic of the side with the crowns, with this special decoration " quadrillée" in French.
Pic of the opposite side:
The dial is a classic one, in a matt black, the more useful, maybe, withs its big tritium indexes which contribute to the near perfect symetry of the watch...I'd prefer not having a date, but it doesn't exist! LOL
Each end of the indexes reach the external part of the dial dedicated to the Alarm.
Here is another interesting element of the Polaris.As the Memovox, you have a disk ( not the triangle used as an indicator of the hour of the alarm ) which turns with the crown on the top,
It adds some magic to the model as you really wonder how it turns...
Macro of the indexes,
Macro of the center of the dial.
Macro of the down of the dial
Macro of the whole dial.
Note the nice contrast between the indexes and this matt dial...To die for!
The hands contribute to the legibility of the watch, not too big, not too small, perfect!
Its green tritium is something we see in later watches, as the Panerai Pre Vendome non matching, the 202/A.
Pics of the hands.
If the case is quite thin, it begins to be spectacular if you see it with the glass, made in plexy but high and domed!
It gives, under some angles, a little distorsion to the dial, but also a very warm look, not to say ...sexy, and achieves to give a Vintage character to this time keeper.
Another stunnig thing is the sound of the alarm, a sound which is a strange mix of Cricket and a big, but very big frog...coherent with the vintage look, this vintage sound!
And what to say about the delicious tic tac of the 18 000 vibrations per hour of this movement, so cool, so smooth, not as nervous and speed as the modern ones. A dream!
It originally comes with a rubber strap, called "Tropic", and a bracelet which is IMO quite ...ugly.
I prefered to change the tropic strap for a tan one...The one of the amvox I, and a customized one, I ordered...
I also changed the original buckle I kept of course for another one: A IWC 18 mm I polished to cancel the name "IWC" on it...
The original buckle is way too thin to go with a good and thick strap that perfectly matches with the watch.
The Result of this change? A very comfortable watch to wear, with an incredible personnality and the charm of the Vintage with a stunning modern look!
Keep in mind that this watch is 40 years old and still has an unbelievable modernity!
Is that we call a " Classique "?
Some 30 years later, came, in 2002, the Memovox Compressor, that was presented by JLC as the grand daughter of the Polaris.
Yes there is something, like "un air de famille", if you look at the indexes, the date, the same system of setting the date, the intern bezel, but that's all.
The crown are not located at the same place, the system of the crowns is moernized, the case back is a bit bombed, the alarm sounds different, the lugs are thicker, as the case, and the sapphyre glass is not domed as the Plexy of the Polaris:
Credit to the Fellow Putist who will recognize himself!
But in 2005, came aonther watch, strangely similar to the Polaris, the Amvox I.
I won't re make the review, I will just post some pics to allow you to have an idea...
The case has the same size, the lugs are quite the same, a bit squarred on the Amvox I, a bit thinner and sweet on the Polaris, The sapphire glass is looking the same as the plexy, a bit less high and less domed, the caseback too is very close, with 14 holes instead of 16...Well, THIS is the true hommage to the Polaris!
Even with this hommage, I still think that there is still a place for a re edition of the Polaris...
I'd personally like to see one version with the painted indexes, and another one with the thin metal indexes, which is beautiful, as I had the chance to see it in the flesh.
I'm waiting with a lot of impatience to see it at the SIHH!
For me, this Vintage watch is a keeper, for sure, and I'm absolutely in love with this mythic piece.
Hope you have enjoyed this review.
Best to all of you.
PS: I want here to credit the Historical JLC Expert and JLC for giving me some informations and pics, Clavi for some details, Steve G for his beautiful pics of the Universal, and all the people at JLC who perfectly restaured my Polaris...And you all for having the patience to read this review. This message has been edited by amanico on 2008-02-04 06:58:40 This message has been edited by amanico on 2008-02-09 00:04:38