Jaeger-LeCoultre released their latest Polaris Chronograph a couple of weeks ago, and we had the first look, and quite frankly it’s stunning. Now we’ve gone hands on to review the blue dial variant!
What We Love
- Super comfortable on the wrist
- Beautiful textured lacquered dial
- Legibility and lume both day and night
What We Don’t
- Clasp is a little fiddly with no push button
- Non-screw down crown makes me nervous on WR
- Movement isn’t as finished as you would expect
Overall Rating: 8.75/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Wearability: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Build quality: 9/10
The Polaris is a quiet hit for Jaeger-LeCoultre in my opinion, and the new Chronograph released at the start of September was a nice surprise to most. We were lucky enough to get our hands on it before it’s release, and you can read the details on it here. However, being able to wear it around for a week for review really gives you a sense of how this watch really wears and looks on the wrist. In short, the blue dial pops, but recently, we also compared it to the grey dial variant, call it curiosity to see which is better – my initial thoughts are… it’s a very hard choice!
Let me say this first. The JLC Polaris Chronograph needs to be seen and felt in person. Photo’s really don’t do it justice, especially the texturing and gradient through the centre and main part of the dial. Both the blue and grey variants differ in this aspect, and whilst we’ve tried to capture the texturing as best as we can, it still doesn’t beat seeing these in person. On that note, the dial is as good as any place to start.
Jaeger-LeCoultre have given the new Polaris a multi-faceted dial and both colour variants are stunning. It consists of 35 individually applied layers of varnish followed by coloured and transparent lacquer before it’s polished. This gives the dial depth, and in addition, the fumé effect just intensifies this more.
Whilst the outer part of the dial is the star, the inner circle on the dial is also done with a fumé effect, but this time in a sunray finish. On the blue, this is quite dark, and in some light, looks almost deep blue or black, where as on the grey, it’s much more grainy and pronounced, as is the main dial with an almost smoked effect. As I said at the start, it’s a tough choice between each should I want to purchase it right now.
The dial indices are very much Polaris – there’s no mistaking that. Unlike the standard Polaris Date in the same colourway, the numerals and indices seem to take a back step to the rest of the dial, blending in with the overall aesthetic, but not in a way that hides them. It’s very clever design by Jaeger-LeCoultre. The lume also is bright and long lasting.
All of this fits into the 42mm Polaris case, and again, stays true to the Polaris lineage with the short angled lugs, combination of polished edges and brushed sides. The chronograph pushers are in line with the side of the case, which adds to the sleekness of its look, and as the crown isn’t screwed down, which for a sports watch with 100m water resistance is a slight bug bear of mine, it does sit close to the case, minimising the 42mm size.
It’s great that the Polaris Chronograph comes with multiple strap options, all with a quick change system making it easy to swap them in and out. In the case of the blue – a stainless steel bracelet and blue rubber strap, which I wore for the most part as I felt that the colour, and the textured “Clous de Paris” pattern on it just enhanced the overall look and design of the watch. I’ll also say that the grey variant looks best on the black rubber strap as opposed to the beige canvas – both of which I’ve tried on, but can’t seem to go past the rubber. It just works so very well.
The strap has a folding clasp that makes it more streamline, but without the addition of push buttons like most butterfly clasps, this is a simple clip in. Design and looks wise, this works brilliantly, but in action, does become slightly fiddly when trying to open it. You do have to slide you finger under the clasp to open it properly. If you look at the pictures below, you will see what I mean.
How It Wears
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is a very easy wearing watch. Size wise, at 42mm in diameter and 13.4mm thick with a relatively short lug to lug, it sits on the wrist comfortably. Whilst the lack of a bezel sometimes can make a watch look larger than the specs suggest, the way the dial is designed with the internal opaline tachymeter along with the small crown and flat chronograph pushers makes this wear pretty true to size.
The rubber strap is curved, right from the base where it conforms to the case sides, and as such, wraps around the wrist easily. The rubber is also about the correct thickness. Not too thin to be flimsy, but not too thick to be big and bulky. I’ve had both in the past, and for a premium rubber strap neither way seems right. Jaeger-LeCoultre have got the strap right in this instance – soft so it wears easy right out of the box, but feels sturdy enough so you’re not left thinking if it will fall apart easily.
As the Polaris Chronograph is a more classy or dressy sports watch, I wanted to see how it paired with both more formal wear and casual, as to get a gauge on where this sat on the spectrum. After wearing it with the collared shirt and suit jacket as well as in jeans and a T-shirt, I can honestly say it works with both. Sometimes these ‘crossover’ watches can lean one way or the other, and if you’ve read a few of my previous articles, you’ll know how much I like a versatile watch, which the Polaris Chrono very much is.
The steel bracelet on the blue dial variant would be the better way to dress it up, as to me, it seems less casual, and thanks to the quick release spring bars, means you can chop and change when needed. The grey dial variant I would say is less dress and more sports due to it only coming with the black rubber and beige canvas straps. The canvas definitely dresses this version down a lot more and gives it a bit of a rugged vibe, something you could take with you travelling and exploring the world.
I spoke about the movement in the release article here, so I won’t go into too much detail on it, but inside the new Polaris Chronograph is the Calibre 761, an upgrade of the older 751 version. Whilst JLC doesn’t have a lot of detail on the movement and the upgrade from the Calibre 751, it does have less components and jewels, making it slightly more efficient and less prone to wear and tear. It still has two barrels, giving the watch a good 65 hour power reserve which is plenty for everyday wear, and the chronograph is a column wheel and vertical clutch set up, making it more accurate and easy to operate.
Playing around with the chronograph function, it is smooth to operate, with just enough resistance to know you’re pressing the start/stop on the top right hand side at 2 o’clock and the reset has a crisp action to it. Whilst it sounds pedantic, when you’re timing something, you want to be able to quickly stop and start the timer without too much effort so it’s quick, but you don’t want to be accidently bumping it, causing it to start or stop, or reset when unwanted.
The Calibre 761 is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, which is always a nice touch on a watch at this level. However, I would have liked Jaeger-LeCoultre to have put a little more effort into the finishing on the movement. Jaeger-LeCoultre produces some spectacular movements with finishing and decorating at it’s best, and whilst this isn’t a high complication or minute repeater, I feel there are better finished movements out there on watches at or below this price point. It’s a minor thing and not a deal breaker by any stretch, but worth mentioning in this review.
Wearing the Polaris Chronograph for a while, and subsequently writing this, I will admit, I did find it hard to find things that I didn’t like about this watch. The negatives are more pedantic criticisms and wouldn’t worry me all that much day to day. At least they didn’t at all in the time I had to wear this piece. It’s just a well put together piece, lovely design cues and a spectacular dial on both blue and grey variants.
The price of AUD $24,300 (at the time of writing this) is on the higher side when it comes to a sports chronograph. However, when you look at the dial finish and the work that goes into this, not to mention the JLC movement and you get 2 straps with quick change as standard, plus up to 8 years warranty, then this isn’t all that bad. Compare this to a Rolex Daytona at AUD $22,400 on steel.
Take away the brand cache and secondary market value and compare the watches on their build quality, craftsmanship, warranty, and inclusions then (and this may be controversial) the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph is priced correctly IF the Daytona is worth it’s retail price. Controversial statement I know given the status symbol that is the Daytona, but I’ve put that out there now!
If you’re in the market for a good looking versatile sports chronograph that is that little more dressy, then the Polaris Chronograph in blue may just be for you. If you want a less dressy version, go for the grey dial, it won’t disappoint. The dilemma though is, which do you choose?
Reference: Q9028181 (Blue) / Q902843J (Grey)
- Case: 42 mm and thickness 13.39mm
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Dial: Grey or Blue Sunburst, grained and opaline dials with gradient finish
- Crystal: Domed Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating inside
- Water resistance: 100 meters / 10ATM
- Movement: Automatic mechanical Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 761. Pivoting on 35 jewels and beating at 4Hz/28,800 VPH
- Power reserve: 65 hours
- Bracelet/Strap: Interchangeable Blue Rubber and Stainless Steel bracelet (Blue), Black rubber and beige canvas straps (Grey)