As you know, the Jaeger Lecoultre Polaris Memovox Mariner was issued one year ago, in September 2020, more precisely.
I have always been surprised by the timing issue of a diving watch by Jaeger Lecoultre. Indeed, to me, it would have been more appropriate to release the first watches at the beginning of the summer, or late spring, to offer the possibility to their owners to enjoy it in the best time of the year, and not just after summer...
So, it took me ten months before receiving one, on loan, for an on the wrist review.
The interest of such a review? It is easy to guess, it is an interesting way to compare my first feelings, when I could discover this last Polaris, and my confirmed impressions, after a while, with this watch on my wrist, for one month.
When discovering the Polaris Memovox Mariner, I was rather positively impressed by the overall quality of the watch and its spectacular blue dial.
First feelings are important but can also be disappointing, with time passing. Will these positive impressions last over the summer, what about the feelings of the see through case back, dial, crowns, and the bracelet? Will it be accurate? How does the alarm sound? The luminosity of the indices and hands in the night?
Let's see all that in the details, now.
1/ THE CASE AND CASE BACK:
On the paper, it is said that it is 42 mm big and 15, 6 mm thick, but you have to keep in mind that these figures include the sapphire glass, which is 2, 3 mm high, and the see-through case back, whose height is 2 mm. You can see the different heights of these parts, here:
In reality, the case is, once on the wrist, not that thick. I find it rather homogeneous, given its diameter / thickness ratio.
Here is an on the wrist picture, taken under a specific angle, to give you a good idea of the proportions:
What I really appreciate here is the finishing of the case, which is all brushed. The generous polished bevels of the lugs give a superb contrast, which is " light catching ".
The big question here is what to think about the see-through case back.
There are pros and cons, here:
As for the cons, the bigger one is that for a diving watch which is supposed to respect the ISO Norms, the see-through case back looks anecdotic. A solid case back would have been more " professional ", and is generally more my taste, once again for that kind of watch.
Now, the see-through case back doesn't ruin nor threaten the improved water-resistant of this watch, which is not 200 meters like on the former Polaris, but 300 meters. Good point.
The other pro is that for once, there is something to see on the back case, through the glass... The hammer of the alarm beating the gong! The Memovox fans will appreciate it, as this sight is very rare. Indeed, we only had the Memovox Cal 914 manual winding from the late 90's and early 2000's and the Memovox Timer and Classic, from 2020, with such a display. It is a real event!
What about the weight, now? The Polaris Memovox Mariner is the heaviest Polaris I had to play with, and by far. For sure, the presence of a steel bracelet explains this substantial difference. Have, but uncomfortable? No. The Polaris is well located on the wrist, and after a while, you forget that you are wearing it. Good point.
2/ THE BRACELET:
The bracelet adds some weight to the Polaris, which, as we saw, is not problematic as it is comfortable, but still... I would have much preferred to have the choice between this steel bracelet, a rubber strap, a calf strap, or, why not, a technical Cordura strap.
The bracelet is very pleasant to the eyes, which is rare enough to be mentioned, from the non strap fan I am, and certainly is a good solution when we have to deal with warm, hot days.
I have three reserves, though...
- I would have preferred an all brushed bracelet rather than these polished external links. That would match with the rest ( and the spirit ) of the watch better, and that would avoid seeing these unavoidable hairlines on them, after a while.
- Maybe it is the vintage guy in me, but I would have liked a tapered buckle. I think it would be more elegant than a buckle which has the same size than the rest of the bracelet.
- Why did Jaeger Lecoultre didn't think of a quick setting of the bracelet length, through the buckle? Especially in the summer, it would be very useful to have such a system, and other point, I didn't find another device I would have loved to have, a quick bracelet change system...
CORRECTION: I tried to find the quick setting system on the watch I had, and I couldn't find it. Now, on a video sent to me by Wover, it seems that such a system exists. So, I stand corrected. Thanks, Wover.
For all these reasons, after having lived with the watch for four weeks, this bracelet is the part of the Polaris Memovox Mariner which convinced me the least.
3/ THE CROWNS:
We almost never discuss the feeling of the crowns when we use them. Here, we have three crowns. At 2 o' clock for the alarm and the date settings, at 3 o' clock for the internal bezel, and at 4 o' clock for the time setting and for winding the movement.
The crowns dedicated to the alarm and the time are very smooth, then pleasant to use. Their size is perfect, so you can turn them without any problem. They are the same crowns as the ones we saw on the Polaris Memovox 50th Anniversary, issued in 2018.
The only screw-in crown is the one dedicated to the bezel, which is unidirectional, turning anti clockwise, to be precise, by increments of one minute. The feeling is much stiffer, here, than the two other crowns.
To remind you that the bezel crown is not locked, you will see an orange ring. Smart, and useful.
I didn't test the watch at the maximum depth of 300 meters, of course, but I submitted it to another " torture " : I jumped into the water from a 5 meters height several times, without any sign of water intrusion in the watch. Good.
Now, I would have preferred to have the three screw-in crowns, truth to be told.
4/ THE DIAL AND HANDS:
As we often say, the dial is the soul of a watch. Without a nice looking dial, a watch is nothing, as great as it could be.
Smoked blue, soleillé finish of the alarm disc, nicely textured outer dial, dark blue bezel, white and orange touches here and there, this dial is a feast for the eyes, and I must say that at the end of this test, it has convinced me a lot.
There are some details I wanted to check, though, and to compare the official pictures with the real life experience:
- The color of the indices in the dark:
On the official pictures, the indices turn into blue, in the darkness.
In real life, the lume is blue, but quickly turns into white. I experienced the same with some famous Rolex, such as the Milgauss 116400 GV whose orange lume quickly turns to another color.
- It is said that the lume of the hour hand is different from the lume of the minute hand, in the dark. Blue for the hour hand, orange for the minute hand. In reality, I got the same experience as for the indices. The hour hand quickly turns to white, the minute hand too.
- Is the visibility good enough in the dark?
As long as the hands don't reach the indices, yes, it is good enough. But when the hands touch the long luminous indices, you cannot make the difference, and you cannot tell what time it is.
Overall, I fell under the charm and the beauty of this dial.
5/ THE MOVEMENT AND THE ALARM:
The Cal 956 is not that old, as it was first introduced in 2007 ( Cal 912, in the Extreme World Alarm ) and in 2008 in the... Tribute To Polaris.
This movement received some changes, such as the tungstene rotor ( instead of a gold one ) and most important, a new architecture for the peripheral gong and hammer, due to the fact that the watch, as the Master Memovox and Memovox Timer from the same year, has a see through case back.
On the movement in itself, there are not much more changes. It still beats at 28, 800 alternances per hour and has a power reserve of 45 hours.
This movement, in the Polaris I tested, proved to be accurate, with an average 3 seconds per day, which is excellent for me.
Still, I would have loved to see an improved version of the Cal 956 with a longer power reserve, of 70 hours, per example, as they started to do it with the Cal 88x. I guess that one day, we'll have these technical changes on an alarm movement, though...
As for the alarm, compared to the former modern Polaris we know, it is still ringing like a school bell, but in a weaker and a more cristaline way. I guess that it is due to the changes on the alarm movement, provoked by the change of the solid case back for a see-through one. Not unpleasant at all but a bit weak, for me.
As for the other Jaeger Lecoultre Alarms I could time, this one lasts 18 seconds.
One month has passed, and it is now time to give it back to Jaeger Lecoultre.
I must say that my overall feeling on the Polaris Memovox Mariner is very positive. It is a cool looking Polaris, a very pleasant companion for the summer days, even if this year, we were not really spoiled by the weather, and for the days I had to work.
By the sea, at it should be:
Or the wsimming pool:
Or on the road, as I spent quite an important time driving, this summer:
Even for some track days:
Or in the countryside, in Normandy and in the Charentes:
The Polaris Memovox Mariner was with me everywhere, this summer, at its place, on my wrist.
The regrets? Yes, I have a few, about this watch: The folding buckle, which could have been narrowed a bit, to add some elegance, the polished outer links of the bracelet, which I would have preferred brushed, the possibility to have an extra strap, for those who are not big bracelet fans, the legibility in the dark, when the hands touch the indices, and an improved power reserve of the movement.
Though, I fell under the charm of this version, for its overall quality, its cool factor, and its beauty. I could well see myself getting one, IF ONLY the price was not that high!
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,