Colour me blue – Introducing the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date
Editor’s note: This is a Mind, Body & Soul review of the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date. The Polaris collection has also had an addition to their alarm complication model, but this being our favourite, we decided to focus on this version only. We do have a previous article on the JLC Memovox watches, titled “Is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox the one watch that’s solely designed for collectors?” You can read that here. For our standard long-from reviews, please head to our detailed review section here.
What is it: The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date
Why: Because JLC has a well respected legacy of producing high quality, premium dive watches. And they needed a diver in their collection. The existing Polaris collection was simply a fashion watch with an internal bezel and 200m water-resistance; the new Polaris Mariner is a true Polaris diver watch
When released: October 2020
Where: Unlike the August 2019 US only LE ref. Q9068681 released in blue last year, this one is part of the regular production
Who is it for: For someone who wants the heritage of JLC on their wrists, and can’t find the Rolex Submariner for retail.
How does it do: Yaaahahaeeee! I don’t think that’s a term but I am willing to make it into one. This was love at first sight. The finely finished movement boasting of 70-hours power reserve and one that can be seen through the display case back is the highlight. The rich blue colour — gradient blue dial, sunrayed, grained and opaline finish — is of-course stunning too. The 2’o clock screw-down crown has an additional orange security band to warn divers when it is not fully screwed down. The watch barring the price —more on that in a bit — is a masterclass in how dive watches should be made, both mechanics and aesthetics wise.
Missing: It’s almost an oxymoronic situation, but the one thing that bugs me about this release is the one thing that really sets it apart; it is the stunning blue of the dial. My beef with it is that JLC released a very similar dial — albeit without the diver capabilities — for its US only 800-piece limited edition JLC Polaris Date back in mid 2019. Agreed it had fauxtina numerals rather than the white of the new release, but from a distance or at first glance it looked very similar. Now if I buy a watch because not only do I like it but also because it’s got the added feature of being a limited edition run, I don’t appreciate it being released really soon afterwards as part of the normal production. I know the new versions have diving capabilities and the subtle use of orange on the dial, but still. Barring the world of unlimited Omega LEs, I reckon there should be an unspoken code about maintaining the sanctity of limited edition releases. This, and the fact that it is $4’500 AUD more expensive than the existing Polaris Date also gets to me; the existing Polaris Date ref. 9068670 with its rotating internal bezel and 200m water-resistance should have been a diver in the first place. I honestly don’t see the point of having both side by side, within the same collection. Given the Rolex Submariner retails for cheaper than this, in my honest opinion if JLC discontinued the existing Polaris Date and instead released this new version at the price of the older one, they would truly corner the dive market as the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date is that impressive.
The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date ref. 9068180 features the automatic winding calibre 899AB. The 26mm diameter movement comprises of 32 jewels and 218 components, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28,800 Vph) and provides with an impressive 70-hour power reserve. For the increased price, it’s good to note that they have modified the base Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 899 that offers a lower 43-hour power reserve for this release.
The other date option in the Polaris range, the ref. 9068670 features the calibre 899 1/A which has an even lower 38-hour power reserve, albeit for a lower $12’900 AUD.
Essentially, there is a price difference of $4’500 AUD between the two, and given that I personally don’t dive, I would rather buy the older version, and use the remaining money for a Tudor Advisor with an alarm. That entire package would cost me $21’300 AUD (retail) for two distinctive watches, $5’890 AUD less than the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox that costs $27’300 AUD.
Look, I am not trying to tell anyone to buy a specific watch, but given the costs and my personal preferences, that’s what I would do. Here are the basic stats:
– Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date ref. 9068180, movement Calibre 899AB, ISO 6425 standard for diving, 70-hour power reserve, $17’400 AUD
– Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox ref. 9038180, calibre 956AA, ISO 6425 standard for diving, $27’300 AUD
$9’900 AUD premium for the alarm function.
In terms of the individual complication pricing:
– Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date ref. 9068670, movement 8991/A, $12’900 AUD, 38-hour power reserve.
$4’500 AUD difference between the two date options.
– The discontinued limited edition Memovox in black retailed for $19,800 AUD when introduced.
$7’500 AUD difference between the two alarm watch options.
– To also put things in perspective, the new 2020 Master Control Memovox retails for $19,700 AUD and the Tudor Heritage Advisor ref. M79620TC-0005 on a steel bracelet retails for $8’420 AUD.
The movement of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date ref. 9068180 is encased inside a 42mm diameter and 13.92mm thick stainless steel case with a mixture of polished and satin finishes and an open case-back. This is ever so slightly bigger than the 2019 LE ref. Q9068681 that measured in at: 42mm diameter, 13mm thickness, and 47.5mm lug to lug distance.
The star of the show aesthetically is the blue dial that comprises of three concentric circles finished in different textures — central disc is sunray-brushed, middle ring is grained and outer ring which is the unidirectional rotating bezel has an opaline finish — and featuring bold trapezoid-shaped indexes and three Arabic numerals.
I am glad to note that the date window at 3’o clock doesn’t eat into a numeral, like in the case of say the new Tudor Royal Day Date. I am also glad to note that like most of the Polaris range, the legibility is pretty impressive too. The hands, indexes and numerals are all filled with SuperLumiNova®, and one of the quirky featured I admire about this release is the use of different colours to distinguish the hour and minute hands. Not only that, the running seconds hand is tipped in orange for daylight visibility, with a central luminescent section to avoid any possibility of confusion with the other hand.
“O suns and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together. Ye cannot rival for one hour October’s bright blue weather,” said Helen Hunt Jackson. It is as if the American poet and writer back in 1800s was talking about the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner in blue. It is as if she knew.
Lots of blue coloured watches have been released this year, but it is only now in October that JLC releases its blue version of the Polaris Memovox and Date. And what a blue it is. When it comes to solely looking at this year’s watches with blue dials, I reckon the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner takes the lead. It is sheer poetry for the wrists.
And for those of you who don’t like this blue, I will leave you with another quote by William Wordsworth, the eminent English Romantic poet – “The soft blue sky did never melt Into his heart; he never felt The witchery of the soft blue sky!” – if the mesmerising blues of this watch don’t drive away your blues, well, then it’s not for you.
To find out more about the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date and other JLC timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are Copyright “©Jaeger-LeCoultre”. All rights reserved.