Review: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph

I decided that it was time to add to my watch collection which consisted of my Seiko 5 and my Oris Aquis. I was keen on getting one of the usual suspects: a stainless steel Rolex Submariner or an Omega Speedmaster Professional. I really want a ceramic Sub with Date, but it is nearly impossible these days to get a Rolex sports model from an AD, and I’d have to pay a heavy premium in the second-hand market. The Speedmaster, on the other hand, is a great watch, but I felt like it didn’t fit my wrist as well as I’d liked.

Let’s check out other nearby boutiques, i thought to myself,  not really expecting to find anything I’d love. I entered the Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique, not knowing anything about the brand other than their watches surely being expensive. In the boutique, I saw mostly dress watches like the Reverso and the Master line, but then I saw what would soon become my next watch: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid watch review.

(Editors note : if only! lol)

What I like about the watch:

The first thing I noticed was the blue dial. Visually, the JLC Polaris Chronograph is a refreshing change from other sports watches. The distinct blue color of the dial, the two chronograph sub-dials, and the tachymeter inner bezel combine to give the watch a fresh, fun, and sporty character. It’s a busy dial since the watch is a chronograph, but JLC have executed a good balance between maximizing space and not overcrowding the dial. The dial actual features three different finishes: a dark blue sunburst finish in the middle, a lighter blue sunburst for the chronograph sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock, a grainy finish in the outer dial. The watch also features a tachymeter scale on the inner bezel which steps down into the dial.

Join the Scottish Watches Facebook Group here

The second thing I noticed was how the watch feels on the wrist. The Polaris Chronograph has a case diameter of 42 mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of around 48 mm. The thickness of the watch is also rightly sized at 12 mm. These case dimensions will allow it to sit comfortably on most wrists. The bracelet also contributes to the comfort and aesthetic of the watch. The bracelet features brushed center links and polished “H-style” outer links. The underside of the bracelet allows for ample ventilation on a hot day, and I haven’t experienced any discomfort from skin pinching and hair-pulling.

The clasp of the Polaris is also very well-engineered. It is thin, which makes it comfortable to wear even while typing on a keyboard; unlike other clasps that are typically found in divers or other sports watches. The clasp is also a double-deployant, allowing for added security from accidental unbuckling. Finally, the clasp has foldable extensions on each side of the clasp equivalent to half a link, allowing for the best sizing on the wrist.

Lastly, the movement of the watch really impressed me. By doing my research on the Polaris, I learned more about JLC’s history as a brand: how they used to supply movements to other large brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin, and how they became known as “the watchmakers’ watchmaker.” The movement in this watch is the JLC Calibre 751H, which is an in-house automatic chronograph movement. It features a column wheel and a vertical clutch for the chronograph, which allows for using the chronograph without additional wear and tear, unlike a horizontal clutch. The rotor also features ceramic ball bearings which do not need lubrication.

The movement is certified by JLC’s 1000 Hours of Control, which is a series of tests of the accuracy and power reserve of the watch. The beautifully constructed movement can also be appreciated through the sapphire caseback. Other owners have said that the movement is too small for the case size, but I don’t really see an issue there. Finally, JLC recently announced that they are now providing an 8-year warranty on all their watches, which shows the confidence they have in the quality of their movements. The boutique I got my Polaris from reached out to me with instructions on how to register my watch for the new 8-year warranty.

What I dislike about the watch:

One thing I discovered in the first week was that the minute hand jumps when I push the crown to synchronize it to a reference time. I looked this up on the internet and found on a forum that this was due to some “slack” in the minute hand. The advice to resolve this was to advance the minute hand past the reference time then wind it back to the reference time before pushing the crown. This resolved the issue for me.

I also don’t like the fact that the lug dimensions on the Polaris are 21 mm, which makes it difficult to fit the watch with an aftermarket strap. I tried it on a 20 mm strap and the extra 1 mm was hard to ignore. Seeing the excess length on the spring bar made me feel insecure wearing the watch and I felt like the spring bar would detach. Apart from that, the lugs do not extend too much from the case, which makes the strap rub on the case, wearing out the strap. It seems that the best option is JLC’s strap for the Polaris, but it is quite expensive and is sold independently from the double-deployant buckle, which is also expensive. On the good side, though, JLC’s straps have quick-release spring bars which allow for easy removal.

Final Thoughts: 

The Polaris Chronograph is a refreshing addition to the luxury sports watch market. The Polaris Collection ranges from 6,000 USD to 12,000 USD for the steel sports models. At this range. This is a highly competitive market with brands like Rolex, Omega, Panerai, Breitling, and IWC all competing at this price range. What’s good though, is that the Polaris Collection distinguishes itself from the offerings of these other brands, which gives the consumers more to choose from. Looking back, the price I paid for this watch is probably the equivalent of a Rolex Submariner with a premium. Frankly, if I had to choose between my Polaris and a Sub Date, I would choose the Polaris immediately. I am still looking to add a Sub Date to the collection eventually, though.

Finally, there is more to explore in the Polaris Collection with the other variants: the simple automatic three-hander, automatic with date, the world time, and the limited edition Memovox Polaris. The automatic three-hander and the chronograph models also have black and blue dial variants. Lastly, there are also options in choosing from a leather strap, a rubber strap, or a bracelet.

 

Specifications(1):

 

Case: Stainless Steel, 100 meters water resistance, 42 mm diameter, and 12 mm thickness

Movement: Automatic JLC Calibre 751H, approximately 60 hours power reserve, 28,800 VH, 37 jewels

Functions: Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Chronograph hour and 30-minute counter, Tachymeter

Dial: Blue dial with lumed trapezoidal indeces and hands, Arabic markers at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock

Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel

 

References

  • Jaeger-LeCoultre. (2019). Stainless Steel Men Watch Automatic, self winding Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph 9028180. Retrieved from Jaeger-Lecoultre: https://www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/eu/en/watches/jaeger-lecoultre-plrs/jaeger-lecoultre-plrs-chronograph/9028180.html