Feb 04, 2008,06:52 AM

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:

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The Case Back and the movement:

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And the European model:

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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:

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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.

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Professor Hannes KELLER is also to be credited as he participated on the creation of the Vulcain Nautical...
Here's the Ad:

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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.

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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.

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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?...

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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:

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The European model:

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Pic taken in the Heritage Gallery:

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Another cleaner pic:

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Macro of the dial:

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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:

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Pic of the watch:

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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:

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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.

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Pic of the opposite side:

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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,

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Macro of the center of the dial.

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Macro of the down of the dial

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Macro of the whole dial.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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

More posts: Amvox1 AlarmJaeger LeCoultreMaster MemovoxMemovox

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Wow, finally we

 By: Asimut : February 4th, 2008-07:12
got we what payed for! The long wait for this review was certainly worth it! Now I am hyped and eager to see what comes out of this re-edition! Thanks for making the post Nico, I hope to see your restored beauty in April. Asi

Asi, I just checked

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-04:35

Pola .... What!!?

 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : February 4th, 2008-07:27
:0) Great work as usual ... keep 'em coming Been real joy to read it .... cos I'm locked on Amvox Regards Damian

Thanks, Damian

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-04:40

Christmas came Late

 By: Bill : February 4th, 2008-08:19
Hi Nicolas, Amazing stuff. You are a very lucky Polaris owner. Bill

Or soon, Bill!

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-04:42

We know about the remake - allegedly.

 By: HerrK : February 4th, 2008-08:50
Coming out of a meeting I find your Polaris report – great! Concerning the remake at this years SIHH Jaw told us at another forum (with JLCs approval - allegedly) that " there will be 2 editions, one replicating the 1963 Polaris and the other is the reiss... 

Herrk, things are said about the re edition of the Polaris

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-04:52
Too many things, IMHO. The truth is that nothing is still firm on this topic, so I prefer keeping the silence than speaking for speaking. Launch is still in April, with several Polaris, that's true. As for the design of each Polaris version, I guess, and ... 

Even worst, Nicolas. We do have no ...

 By: HerrK : February 7th, 2008-05:22
... clues at all of what will be inside the remake! The original Cal. 825 or the follow up out of the AMVOX1 Cal. 918 or Cal 912 or maybe some- thing entirely new? Well, patience is a virtue – unless you want to buy a pig in a poke. Cheers Christian

Well, for that , I have an information

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-05:25
But I can olny tell you that it won't be an old movement as the 825, and that normally, it will allow you a quick set of the date. Can't tell more for the moment. Best. Nicolas

Hear, hear, Nicolas! You are ...

 By: HerrK : February 7th, 2008-09:06
... withholding information from the community! You should be ashamed! Well quick set for the date rules 918 out. So what is left is 912 or something new. Would 912 fit into a 42mm case? I think 912 is about 36.5mm wide, so that could be a problem. Also: ... 

Yes, Herrrk, I'm ashamed! LOL

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-10:52
But I'm ashamed to say that I can't tell you more, even if you strongly tried to get me the worms out of the nose...( French Saying...LOL) Yep, new movement, but no more precision till it will be the time for it. As I previously said, some can say what th... 

Stunning review as usual Nicolas......

 By: Andy : February 4th, 2008-10:10
not long to wait till we see the 'alleged' new beauty.....eagerly awaiting some pics..!!! So your Polaris was away for 11 months..!!! Do you have any 'before' and 'after' shots or is all the work internal..?? Andy.

Thanks, Andy! I'm afraid the comparison won't be THAT demonstrative

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-05:03
2 more months to see them in the Flesh!!! As for my Polaris between and before, it won't speak a lot because these 2 pics aren't macros... I had some scratches and dings on the case, now...Nothing. They kept the original plexy as they don't have anymore p...  

Beautiful.....absolutely beautiful.....

 By: Andy : February 7th, 2008-10:16
Almost impossible to tell the difference between them so all the character is there as it should be, I guess most of the work was to the movement and a little polish of the case. Not long till I get to see some of your pieces in the flesh......is this Lon... 

Excellent !

 By: Marv : February 4th, 2008-10:18
Nicolas, thank you for this great review ! The photos of the Master Compressor and Amvox really highlight how actual the Polaris remains. That's what one calls a classic, no ?-) Produced in a limited number, that's what I call an icon! And your watch is r... 

Thanks, Marv

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-05:07

Thanks. Great work! (nt)

 By: Velociphile - No longer in the building : February 4th, 2008-16:02

Happy you enjoyed it!

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-05:09

Thank you Nicolas.....

 By: Dje : February 4th, 2008-22:27
Hi, Thank you for your review and pics Nicolas! That's a great work and very pleasing to learn so much about a mythical watch. Dje

Great post!

 By: Allen : February 5th, 2008-06:55
It took me a while to go through all the great pics and text. Thanks, Nicolas!

great work

 By: moonway : February 5th, 2008-07:40
In fact your work here is a great homage to the history of the Polaris.

WOW, David ng

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-05:14

Wow, amazing pictorial, thanks! nt

 By: Chris Meisenzahl : February 5th, 2008-09:22


 By: mjnoumoff : February 5th, 2008-16:42
WOW Incredible post. Great history of the Memovox. I wonder how much different my MC Memovox would sound with that 'open' caseback!!??

Not the same sound, Matt...

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-08:02

Thanks, Chris

 By: amanico : February 7th, 2008-08:01

Wow !

 By: DrStrong : February 6th, 2008-13:27
what an amazing job my friend ! I was lucky enough to see your Polaris in the flesh yesterday and it is a beauty....! By the way, I have found in my records more pictures of the "inners" of the baby. They might be of interest:...  

Thanks, Jeff, foe the nice words, and

 By: amanico : February 8th, 2008-07:17
For the pics too! I was searching for a nice pic of the movement and of the interior of the Case Back, now I get them! Best! Nicolas

You're welcome

 By: DrStrong : February 8th, 2008-23:57

Who needs reference books

 By: Baron - Mr Red : July 26th, 2010-02:10
Awesome. Really helpful and insightful stuff. Don't ever stop.

Thanks for this friendly bump, Mr Baron. :)

 By: amanico : July 26th, 2010-02:21
So, now, you just have to feed it up with your pics! Best, my friend. Nicolas

i am using an onscreen keyboard because...

 By: Baron - Mr Red : July 26th, 2010-02:32
my usb sockets have blown. WIll be a while before i get replacement USBs so no Pics. Besides, i don't have "much" to show. Maybe by Friday?

See you on Friday, then! :)))

 By: amanico : July 26th, 2010-02:35
Take your pills with you, my friend, it seems that many nice watches are waiting for you! Best, Nicolas

How many pills?

 By: Baron - Mr Red : July 26th, 2010-02:45
I have taken the Polaris 65 now. Its in NY so will be a little while before i see it. Watch is mint except the missing outer caseback. Finding a "solution" to that will be great fun. But I am not sure I will go down the path of the 68 too.... but i have a... 

Damn, I may be the one who will have to take pills. :)))

 By: amanico : July 26th, 2010-03:08
First enjoy the 65, and then you'll see if you take the path to the 68... Both are so different that it may be of interest to get them all. Best, my friend. Nicolas

My goodness, Nicolas, there's so much history in this one post . . .

 By: Dr No : February 6th, 2008-20:41
. . . thanks so much, especially for the photos of the groovy cushion case Master Mariners - now that's a watch for the ages! Cordially, Art

Wow. Thanks Nicolas!

 By: SJX : February 7th, 2008-01:13
This is the definitive work on the Polaris. - JX

I don't know, SJX

 By: amanico : February 8th, 2008-07:21

Another great report Nicolas ! Great pics too !

 By: jeff 325 : February 7th, 2008-12:11
I will definitly have to add a Polaris in my collection one day .

Jeff 325

 By: amanico : February 8th, 2008-07:22

Thorough and superb. Thanks Nico! [nt]

 By: Tony C. : February 7th, 2008-17:36
No message body

Hi Nicolas,

 By: michel : February 16th, 2008-01:13
Thanks for this nice report and the so many beautifull picture´s, the funny thing is i don´t or didn´t have a lot with vintage watches, but sometime´s i see some that do something to me, so please stop with al this beautiful stuff !!! Cheers, Michel

You got it, Michel

 By: amanico : February 16th, 2008-04:57


 By: charlesnevers : February 16th, 2008-10:51
Fantastic job. thanks. Vintage memovox are my prefer ones. I enjoy my father's one every day:...  

Welcome here, Clamasmr

 By: amanico : February 16th, 2008-11:38

fantastic report! I recall being there when you dropped it off at the paris boutique..

 By: eric_s : February 17th, 2008-04:34
Glad to see you got it back and in such wonderful condition. Congratulations!

Thanks, my friend

 By: amanico : February 17th, 2008-05:02

ever since I saw AlexSunrise's Polaris 68..

 By: ocwatching : July 25th, 2010-18:45
I have been devouring all things Polaris/Amvox...I really enjoyed this post and the great photos.. great work Nicolas! now I just need to find the funds...

How I understand you!

 By: amanico : July 25th, 2010-23:14
So, you become a Polaristi? This is such a wonderful watch, nice, lovely, strong at the same time. Welcome to he family. Best, and thanks for your enthusiastic words. Nicolas

Excellent report Nicolas

 By: WTA : April 11th, 2014-02:42
The fact that you excelled in this report, I am enjoying and I read and I watch these images, as well as I like observations and comparisons own, I thank you very much on this great effort You made ​​wonderful history for yourself I wish you health and co...