A few months ago, I posted my first feelings and thoughts on the Polaris Memovox Mariner, when the official pictures were unveiled.
I was impatient to discover it in real life, to see if my first positive reaction was the good one.
Indeed, the real experience is the only way to appreciate the proportions of the whole watch, its dial, and how you feel it, when it is between your hands or on your wrist.
That's what we'll see, now.
1/ The raison d'être of the Polaris Memovox Mariner:
Some will say that the Polaris Memovox Mariner is just another Polaris with a different dial. I strongly disagree with that statement.
Indeed, when the Tribute to Polaris 1965 and 1968 were issued in 2008, the purpose was to pay an sensuous homage to one of Jaeger Lecoultre icons.The vintage touch was the key factor of this watch, with its hyper domed plexy, and the strong color of the indices ( for the 1968 version ). These two versions stuck to the original in the closest way. The only modern part of the watch was the movement, the Cal 956, which was first used in the Tribute to Polaris.
With the Polaris Memovox 50th Anniversary, the icon has been deeply revisited, with a new case, new crowns, a different case back, revisited applied numbers and indices, new hands, a sapphire glass, and a different treatment of the dial, while the movement stays the same. So, yes, the idea behind this version is to get a modern iteration of the cult watch.
The Polaris Memovox Mariner goes farther in the modernity of the iconic diving watch, as it is the first Polaris to respect the Iso Norms such as an unidirectional bezel via a screw-in crown located at 3 o clock, different colors for the hours and minutes hands, and a water resistance of 300 meters now, instead of 200 meters, before ( while the Iso Norms require a minimum of 100 meters ). The former Polaris share two other Iso exigences with this new version: The running movement indicator and the luminosity in dark conditions.
So we can say that this new Polaris Memovox Mariner is a real and modern diving watch, as it respects all the Iso norms, hence the " diving " mention on the alarm disc.
2/ The aesthetics of the new Polaris Memovox Mariner:
When you read the characteristics of the Polaris Memovox Mariner, you can wonder if it is harmonious or if it is not a bit too chunky. Indeed, with a 42 mm big and 15, 6 mm thick case, the question is relevant.
In the metal, the answer is evident. The watch, although big and thick, is not too chunky. The secret? The thickness has been measured including the sapphire glass, which is 2, 3 mm high, and the case back, which is 2 mm thick. Once in your hands or on your wrist, it is well proportioned, better than on the paper!
You will admire the generous bevels on the lugs. As for the lugs, I wonder if they are not a tad slimmer than on the 50th Anniversary. I will have to try to ask Jaeger Lecoultre to show me both models and to take a side by side picture, just to check that point.
The three crowns are well integrated to the case, not too small nor too big, and nicely decorated.
Only the crown at three o' clock, dedicated to the internal turning bezel, is screwed. Unscrewed, an orange ring is appearing, warning you that you have to screw the crown in order to protect the watch against the intrusion of water before diving.
The other important part of the watch is, of course, the dial. The biggest concern with a blue dial is that the pictures can suggest, sometimes, a different hue than in reality. In the official pictures, I found it cool looking, but maybe a bit flat. In reality, I was totally convinced and seduced. The combination of these different hues of blue, white and small touches of orange is really working, at least for me. We are far from a flashy outcome.
The other major difference between this Polaris and the former ones... The case back, which is now a see through one, allowing to see the movement.
Here, I am a bit more dubitative. On the negative side, 2 points:
- I don't see the point to have a see through case back in a serious diving watch.
- I don't see the interest of having a see through case back when there is nothing exceptional to see ( movement ).
On the positive side, two points:
- The see through case back is a first for a Polaris. So, why not?
- At least you can see the hammer beating when the alarm is working, which is quite entertaining.
3/ The question of the Bracelet:
I am not a bracelet fan, but here I find it is quite nice. Simple, sober, it suggests the " tool watch character " of the Polaris, which is a good point. The other good point is that this bracelet is very pleasant and comfortable to wear.
Now I regret two things:
- The fact that we don't have the choice between this bracelet and a strap. It would have been great to have a Canvas strap, a navy blue one, with such a watch. Or a rubber!
Please, Jaeger Lecoultre, take this suggestion in consideration, pretty please!
- I also regret that this bracelet doesn't have a quick system to remove it.
But, once again, this bracelet is really good looking and its design goes very well with this Polaris.
4/ The movement:
The Cal 956 had to receive a new architecture for the peripheral gong and the hammer, due to the fact that the case back is not solid anymore but in sapphire.
As you can see, the rotor is in tungsten, which is not a true novelty since the different movements of the Polaris line received it in 2018.
I like the Cal 956 a lot. Introduced in 2008, it was a major improvement compared to the former Cal 918, offering for the first time ( if we exclude the Cal 912 introduced two years before ) a quick set of the date!
I just regret that Jaeger Lecoultre didn't take the opportunity of this new Polaris Memovox Mariner to offer a longer power reserve to their Cal 956, while they made it for the Cal 899, for example. The Cal 956 still has the 44 hours power reserve and a classic escapement, while the Cal 899 received a silicon escapement allowing a power reserve of 70 hours.
While we are at it, I find the alarm of the new Polaris Memovox Mariner to be more crystalline, but a tad lower, compared to the former ones. The impact of a see through case back, or of the peripheral gong?
I will say it straight, the new Jaeger Lecoultre Polaris Memovox Mariner is a watch I like a lot. A true Polaris, a nice modernized icon, technical, fresh and young looking.
I love the dial, the new hands, and these colors in the dark.
I am pleased by the fact that it is not a limited edition, too.
While I find the bracelet very pleasant to see and comfortable to wear, I regret the absence of choice and the fact that there is no strap available ( for the moment ) for that watch.
Now I regret that the crowns for the alarm ( at 2 o'clock ) and the time ( at 4 o' clock ) are not screw-in, and that the case back still has these 4 tiny screws ( I would have much preferred a true screw-in case back. But I can live with those points, as long as the water resistance is efficient.
No, my major issue with this watch is... Its price: At more than 17, 000 Euros, I find it way too high. And that bugs me a lot, as I really love that watch!
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,