Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
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One month into the year and already I’ve an inbox with a pile of messages marked ‘Urgent’. It’s all relative I guess but people are prone to hyperbole and are often ‘freezing to death’ even though temperatures seldom drop anywhere near zero. And because of the interconnectedness of all things, our thoughts and ideas are so very, very important and pressing. Right now! Reality check: the Cape water crisis, rampant corruption, war, famine are matters requiring ‘urgent’ attention.   

The nowness of things is out of hand and it’s time to regulate both our time and the times we live in. I’ve daily conversations with people looking for ways to switch off, take back their time. We have an interesting association with time. From sundials to pocket and wrist watches, humans have created tools to help them understand the cycles and seasons, record and regulate the passing of time. As we track it, we also kill and try to stretch time. Its passing is a constant and uncomfortable reality check of our mortality.

Inquisitive minds and adventurous spirits have lead to machines getting faster over time, connecting us on highways, across timezones and now our wearables. Along with this came the belief and obsession to stay connected and keep ahead. We need to transform the race for attention so it aligns with our best interests. Like the team of concerned former Silicon Valley tech insiders and CEOs who started an organisation called Time Well Spent and intimately understand the culture, business incentives, design techniques, and organizational structures driving how technology hijacks us. They have all sorts of smart advice on how to take charge but start by disconnecting email from your phone, turning off notifications and move your phone out your bedroom before 10pm. With fewer distractions and a tighter diary you’d be more productive, making better use of your time. Not to mention, get better sleep.  

I’ve always favoured simpler, more utilitarian watches. Something robust and precise, yet elegant enough to wear with a suit. It also brings me great pleasure to look at something beautiful on my wrist when checking time, rather than at a distracting phone. The simpler the better. Just time and date. Possibly with a charming, useful little reminder every now and again like the alarm on the recently revealed Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox — ‘voice of memory’ — as part of a new collection.

Jaeger-LeCoultre are one of the oldest, most respected manufactures of movements created for use in their own luxury timepieces as well as by many other top brands. Although fans view their iconic Reverso as the maison’s sports offering, this year’s launch of the ‘new’ Polaris collection introduces a proper, modern sports watch category for Jaeger-LeCoultre, which at the same time pays tribute to a vintage diver’s alarm watch from 1968.

Expected to be available from the second quarter, there is a 42mm Polaris Chronograph and 44mm Chronograph World Timer, a simpler 41mm Polaris Automatic time only and the 42mm Polaris Date all taking their design cue from the original sporty, iconic black dial with its very particular font and trapezoidal indexes. The sporty look of the dial also evokes the old Jaeger instruments fitted in most iconic classic cars.

However, the stand-out piece in the collection is the limited edition Memovox, which is the true tribute watch with a few contemporary updates. Inside its 42mm stainless steel case is the in-house Caliber 956 automatic alarm movement. There are three crowns: time adjustments; setting the internal bezel; and setting the alarm with the rotating central dial. Available in a limited series of 1000 at $12600, which you could earn in a couple of minutes if you weren’t so distracted. Water resistance is to 200m.

For just over half the price though at $7750, I’d be thrilled with the understated Calibre 899A/1 Date with the design of its black dial combining different finishes across three concentric circles. The large hands, coated in Super-LumiNova®, offer excellent readability in poor visibility. Its 41mm case features alternating polished and brushed finishes, which for me wouldn’t be complete without a sporty stainless steel bracelet. Also available on leather or rubber straps. As this is essentially a diver’s watch, the two crowns are for time/date adjustments and rotating inner bezel (rehaut) to monitor dive time. Water resistance is to 100m.

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