How do you tell a story of time and the sea across several time-zones simultaneously? At Jaeger-LeCoultre, you bring together watchmaking and whisky to mark the launch of the new Polaris Mariner collection.
We met the Swiss watchmaker at its manufacture in the Vallée de Joux, the same site where it was founded in 1833. Jaeger-LeCoultre director of Heritage and Rare Pieces, Stéphane Belmont, took us on a virtual tour of the Heritage Gallery, which traces a century of creativity and innovation.
“This particular exhibition is dedicated to the sound maker,” said Belmont, walking us around the sun-drenched gallery interiors where complicated calibres (Jaeger-LeCoultre had developed over 100 minute repeaters by 1900), music boxes and ultra-complex timepieces that chimed the hour, sang the quarter-hours, and even played the Westminster carillon were displayed.
The vast library included the Master collection, the Atmos clocks whose perpetual movements will keep time for all eternity, and the Memovox, the original automatic alarm wristwatch. A portmanteau of the Latin words memor (remembering) and vox (voice), its name suggests its practicality, espoused in models such as the 1958 Memovox Parking that alerted wearers when their parking meters had run out and the 1959 Memovox Deep Sea Alarm for divers.
Reminded of the heritage of the established manufacture, we were then whisked to the wind-swept northernmost coast of Scotland for a taste of the sea. Old Pulteney global ambassador Lukasz Dynowiak was waiting for us at the distillery in Wick with a dram in hand. This was not to evoke envy; we joined him immediately with our own samples of the 15 Year Old and 18 Year Old, nosing for the elusive “seaside brine” amid notes of citrus, caramelised sugar, dark fruits, spice, and chocolate.
“Old Pulteney has been operating since the 1820s and we still employ the traditional methods of double-distilling and maturation in old coastal warehouses,” said Dynowiak. “The label is renowned as a maritime malt, which fits our theme today. There are many links between the worlds of whisky and watchmaking, but fundamentally, they both rely on time.”
Time to create, to innovate and to come into their own… as the sportive Polaris has over the decades. The illustrious Polaris Mariner diving series embraces two new high-performance models this year: the Polaris Mariner Memovox and the Polaris Mariner Date.
At the Southeast Asian virtual premiere, we have our first glimpse of the novelties. The Polaris Mariner Memovox recalls the robust aesthetics and functions of the original diving watches, complete with the self-winding Calibre 956, a direct descendent of the brand’s first automatic alarm watch movements. For the first time, the Memovox model wears a transparent sapphire crystal caseback for an uninterrupted view of the hammer striking the gong, redesigned to integrate with the case and carry the school bell-like alarm with clarity.
The 42mm stainless steel Polaris Mariner Memovox retains the signature three-crown configuration of its ancestors. Luminescent hour markers and hands ensure readability in low-light conditions while a gradient blue dial, decorated with sunray, grained and opaline finishes, recalls the hue of the deep seas and is waterproof to 300m.
For the connoisseur seeking an urban diver, the Polaris Mariner Date mirrors the striking vigour of its sibling with contemporary panache. The lacquered dial, similarly decorated, boasts an instant-jumping date display while the dual-crown structure is typical of super compressor diving watch cases. The Calibre 899 guarantees a power reserve of 70 hours, allowing wearers to chase adventure – on land or up to 300m underwater – wherever it may lead.
The Polaris Mariner Memovox is featured in Jaeger-LeCoultre's promo film In A Breath, starring brand ambassador Benedict Cumberbatch. Watch it below.