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Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Did you know the Master Compressor was dead?! Now that I have your attention, let me begin this review with the lines I originally wrote, just before visiting JLC’s official website to check what was up (or down…) in their men’s section. Before that shocking news, this is how I originally wanted to start: after all that palaver here, but also here, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and buy myself a Jaeger-LeCoultre that I not only liked, but that was of the breed I have been seeing killed off from the brand’s identity in recent years. The watch that I picked is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic or, as it’s officially called, the Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs. But everyone calls it the Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic. I’d hate myself if I forgot, so I’ll take this moment to give a special shout out to the kind people over at TheWatchBox.com for hunting one of these watches down for me to buy, on this particular bracelet, in neat condition, as a full set – I appreciate their help.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Some Disclaimers

The last thing I feel I should note before we move onto the review itself is that for the full picture on the reasoning behind this purchase, as well as a lot of the background on what I am about to say in this review, can be found in those two articles that I have linked to in the intro paragraph. There are so many amendments and pros and cons to the matter that all my criticisms are a real tightrope walk between saying what I want but remaining correct with the brand that I like and with those fellow watch enthusiasts who like it for different reasons. Hence, I wish to spare myself, as well as all those who have read said articles, going through all those detailed explanations again. Those two articles contain what I consider to be some important points about the recent past, as well as the present of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and I wish that you accept my invitation to read those before continuing here. Anyhow, here we go.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

What Grinds My Gears

As I was digging through old JLC press kits and stuff from the late ’00s to prove the point I was trying to make in one of those aforementioned articles, I stumbled upon this piece, the Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs, or, as it’s more often called, the Navy SEALs Automatic. Immediately upon re-acquainting myself with it, I knew it was going to be the next watch for me to get. Why? In essence, because the Navy SEALs Automatic is a watch that shares what I consider to be a highly productive and very exciting period in the modern history of the brand. It was an era of cool Master Compressors, watches made in actual, real-world collaboration with Aston Martin, the Navy SEALs and explorers, an era of Extreme LABs (how cool is that?) and high complications that pushed the envelope… And, surprise-surprise, an era almost entirely free from any sort of tame, self-aggrandizing, and truly excessive vintage-tribute-iconic-heritage-jubilee-anniversary conformism in copy-paste watch design. It was a time when the 2-4 year product plans were all about “What shall we do next?” and not “What is it that we have done ages ago that has an anniversary coming that’s 5-divisible?

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I promised not to repeat myself but I feel I should, at least briefly – albeit by omitting some important amendments and side notes that I have added in other articles. What I’m trying to say is that where other brands leave me dead cold with their saturation dive into their own archives to the detriment of everything else, I do care about JLC doing it and abandoning its creative and innovative self (basically to an absolution, at this point in the affordable segment). Because, again, a brand with over 1,200 different calibers and hundreds of patented and countless many more otherwise unique inventions shouldn’t spend several years not producing anything that would tick both boxes of being affordable and refreshing. Looking at what the brand’s been up to lately, it’s become “pick either one” – and often neither.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

To be clear, again, I don’t mean every watch has to be as bonkers as those I mentioned a bit further above. I understand the importance of generic looking – the kind word I guess would be “versatile” – collections and watches that can be sold to those who don’t need or want anything more than a boring safe watch with a fancy name on it. However, haven’t we seen far too many of those lately from Jaeger-LeCoultre – and most everybody else? I think we have and I certainly know that I have. And because there’s nothing sexy or unique or special to these watches, but the brand understands they have to add some story to it, what we get is endless and extremely tiresome dwelling on past achievements, most of them attained at a time their current target audience hadn’t even been alive yet. The shockingly disproportioned and sleep-inducing stale Polaris Automatic, the quickly fading Geophysic, or the “hey, here’s a new-old dial color for this Reverso Tribute”… At this point, there is literally nothing that was fully designed in and designed for anyone or anything of this decade in the affordable selection of Jaeger-LeCoultre. There are cool tourbillons and stuff, but yeah, those hardly make any difference for most of us.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

And, you see, that was precisely the bloody point of Jaeger-LeCoultre until but a few years ago. That it was a cool ass brand that had it all: the fancy name (as expected from a luxury brand) but, rather more importantly, the outstanding history, remarkable variety of collections, novel and identifiable designs and engineering solutions, high quality of execution and, overall, a constantly renewing range of cool-without-trying watches. Because if you didn’t know what you were doing, you got yourself the watch James Bond wore and that said 007 on the dial a million times… But if you did know what’s what, you got yourself a Jaeger-LeCoultre. Now, all that’s replaced by a Polaris that I won’t repeat my full-article rant about here (it’s linked to above) and so on and on it goes. Even the Duomètre, albeit rather more expensive, is over a decade old now (did you know?) and the brand has apparently been at a total loss when it comes to deciding what to do with it. And so the low-to-mid-high-end range is completely gone when it comes to genuinely novel solutions.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Actual Review Of The Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic

This leads me to the Navy SEALs Automatic, a watch originally launched at SIHH 2010… I wish it was launched somewhere more, ehm, badass than that. When debuted, here’s what Jaeger-LeCoultre had to say about this watch: “In direct line from the tradition of Jaeger-LeCoultre military watches, the Navy SEALs® watches are able to withstand the extreme conditions of the missions accomplished by the US Navy’s elite special operations force.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I’ll happily leave it up to your own discretion whether or not you get excited by products designed for use scenarios you yourself will never even get close to in a lifetime. But for those who are like me, and love this sort of stuff, we are left with two options – and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic showed me the second, alternative way that I had not known existed before. In my prior experience, all noteworthy products designed in collaboration and/or for professionals had to be made to the smallest detail to comply with their requirements – any deviation or shortcoming I’d consider a major problem that would render said exercise pointless, really. The Navy SEALs Automatic showed an alternative method what I’d call a very “Swiss” way of delivering a product conceived under such circumstances.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The story goes that upon testing the prototype watches, the Navy SEALs had two major complaints and feedback about the watch: first, the bezel would fall out too easily and needed to have a much more secure fit. Secondly, the case was way too shiny with all the polished surfaces, attracting too much attention. So what did Jaeger-LeCoultre do? They brushed the top of the lugs and the case profile, but left wide, deep-polished bevels on the lugs, i.e. on all four corners of the watch. In the last number of months that I’ve had this month, every damn time that I happen to look at how the lugs are designed, I’m reminded of how they were asked to make this non-reflective – and yet someone at Jaeger-LeCoultre was like: “Nah. We’ll make the lugs pretty because that’s what we do. The Navy-who, anyway?” This puts a smile on my face every time I see these lugs and imagine this conversation going down at JLC – who then produced 1,500 watches with polished lugs, because some penguins or seals or whatever certainly don’t have a sniff at what real luxury is! I absolutely adore this subtle flip-off detail in the watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Case, Crown

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic comes in a stainless steel case that is 42mm wide, 12.75mm thick, has a 60-click, unidirectional stainless steel bezel with a black ceramic insert with some sharp-looking cut-outs for the diving timer, as well as a lumed pip. The crown is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s “compression key” design that Master Compressor owners will be familiar with: just half a turn of the crown guard sets the crown free to be pulled out for setting the date and time or to wind the movement. When unlocked, it shows red arrows that get your attention and give you the direction you should rotate the compression key to safe-lock the crown and re-establish the rated 300m resistance. Neat design that works like new on this 8-year-old watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I especially appreciated how the crown worked so accurately when setting the time: no wobble or loose feeling from it or the hands that it is setting, and when pushing the crown back to its regular position, the hands do not move or change their position. These are the sort of details Jaeger-LeCoultre should (and thankfully does) get right. A less appreciable detail is the ceramic bezel: I don’t know how, but Jaeger-LeCoultre has apparently managed to create a more delicate, more Swiss ceramic that gets scratched rather more easily. My watch has a small scratch at the 40-minute mark on it, and when hunting for one of these – before TheWatchBox.com helped me find this one – I’ve seen plenty of these watches listed with minor scuffs and marks on their ceramic bezels. The ceramic used here looks matte, as opposed to the shiny ceramic that Rolex, Hublot, Omega and Rado uses, so I’m certain that either the base material or how it’s “cooked” differs from the sort of ceramic that we see on luxury watches these days. This reminds me that this is indeed a delicate, luxury watch that poses as a tool –  and has a cool story behind it for us desk divers.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Another neat detail that I can certainly appreciate is how the direction of the brushed surfaces vary between case profile and lug profile. The sides of the lugs are vertically brushed while the case band, as is sometimes called, is horizontally brushed. The very edge of the case-back is beveled and polished, and so is the underside of the case band, making for a neat veneer that accentuates all the brushed, matte-looking parts. While both show attention to detail that one would rightfully expect and so both are welcome additions, I’m slightly more impressed by that polished case-back edge – it’s such a nice touch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One Of The Best Bracelets

By contrast to the ceramic bezel, the articulated rubber bracelet has held up exceptionally well – not just on this, but pretty much every Navy SEALs automatic that I’ve checked out over the months of looking for one of these. Whereas I presume we are all familiar with the ease and unavoidable certainty of how a metal bracelet develops scratches, there are no noticeable signs of wear except for the end-link at the 6 o’clock position of the case. The rubber hasn’t faded, turned grey, show bruised or scratched areas and is not peeling anywhere. Furthermore, the surface of the links is smooth to the touch, I could best compare it to opaque glass – it isn’t sticky at all, like so many other rubber bracelets are. It never sticks to my clothes or whatever I rest my hand on, it doesn’t pick up lint or dust, and it doesn’t rub against textile or linen surfaces. It is a genuinely fantastic bracelet that I wouldn’t mind wearing on any other of my watches.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Basically perfect ergonomics.

Better still, the bracelet articulates in a rather peculiar way. I’m not sure if it’s because of the steel cores of the individual links and steel screws that hold it together, or how the rubber sides rub against each other, but this is the single best bracelet when it comes to adapting to the shape of my wrist with ease and combining that with a certain rigidity. You can move the links and adjust their angles, but they have a bit of resistance to them, it’s almost as though you could fold it to a perfect, organic shape. The length and width of links are just ideal for a comfortable wearing experience, further enhanced by the combination of steeply angled lugs and a perfectly flat case profile and caseback.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One of the two micro-adjusts seen here open (further above) and closed (here).

The icing on the cake is the quick micro-adjust integrated into the double folding clasp – which in itself is another testament to the engineers of old at Jaeger-LeCoultre. Both ends of the clasp have a half-a-link sized micro adjust that is a lot like Rolex’s Easylink system: you can fold it in or out, hence adjusting the length of the bracelet. However, JLC’s solution is superior to Rolex’s design in two ways, both of which I appreciate every single time that I wear this watch: first, this system gives you two adjustment points, so it’s easier to get a perfect fit; second, I figured out how to adjust each of these micro-adjusts with one hand, without having to take the watch off. Excellent stuff that makes a huge difference during everyday wear.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Micro-adjust closed on the upper and extended on the lower half of the clasp.

This is what I think is a big part of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s old charm: it keeps things super simple where it needs to be (3-link bracelet in a regular arrangement, with a simple double folding clasp), and complicates them where they make a world of a difference (with the integrated micro-adjust or the fantastic and to this day unique rubber compound for the base material).

Jaeger-LeCoultre Navy SEALs Automatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A Mediocre Movement With Redeeming Features

The movement is what I consider to be the weakest point of this watch. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 899 is a tiny, short-power reserve, complicated (and I presume consequently delicate) movement. It has its redeeming features, but let’s start with the negatives. It’s a small movement, coming in at only 26mm wide. That means it would fit a ladies watch that’s less than 34 millimeters wide. I have a strong presumption that JLC designed this to be a neat all-rounder movement that they can drop in every competitively priced watch with a date. It runs at 4Hz – yay – and has a power reserve of 43 hours – the very opposite of yay. I’d go so far as to say it’s more like 38-40 hours and what I can say from experience is that this is way shorter than what I’d need to be able to find this watch ticking away when I go back to pick it up. I’m adjusting the date and time constantly and that’s very frustrating. This was lame in 2010, but if JLC stayed on track, it would have given us a great movement with extended power reserve and perhaps other perks such as resistance to magnetic fields, better resistance to shocks, or whatever rocked their boat. The JLC Caliber 899 comprises 219 parts, a lot for a 3-hand movement, with uni-directional winding and a date.

About the Author

David Bredan (abtw_david) is a young watch enthusiast based in Budapest, Hungary. He is dedicated to understanding, revealing and discussing as many aspects of fine watch making as possible. Fascinated by the countless admirable details of haute horlogerie, he strives to discover the challenges linked to the manufacturing of fine timepieces and also those related to chronometrical performance. As much as he loves unfolding the mysteries of mechanical timepieces, he also aspires to successfully capture and share the nuances that separate a fine watch and a masterpiece.

Comments

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  • IanE

    yes, Yes, YES !!! When will the execs at JLC listen? It’s like talking to politicians: they just hear what they want to hear and totally ignore the rest.

    Great article, but will they finally get it?

    • David Bredan

      Thanks, I’m thrilled that you got the message and enjoyed the article!

  • Sarosto

    Thank you David, great article, thoroughly enjoyable.

    • David Bredan

      Thank you, appreciate your kind feedback.

  • BNABOD

    Great article and a reminder to a lot of brands to start thinking forward rather than backwards. The Polaris line I attempted to like and when seen in real life left me stone cold bored to death. A half ass lazy boring design what I like to call vanilla design, nothing exiting nothing awful but ever so dull.
    I agree JLC needs to move on I remember liking the Aston martin editions because they were different and fun and avant garde but the current line up do nothing for me. The good news about this navy seals is that the date window even for such small movement is not seen on the dial 8 miles to the left , overall a quirky fun design enjoy your watch

    • David Bredan

      Thanks for the kind words regarding the article, I appreciate it.

  • Tony NW

    David, you could really use a strong editor. Your ideas and reasoning are strong, but your sentences overly convoluted. Count your average sentence length and comma-count against, say, Ariel’s. Or those of other published authors. Or compare this paragraph to one written in your style…

    David, as a fine writer, which I’m sure we would all agree… although I diverge of course… you have a penchant for overly elaborated sentence structure, one which over time can lose the reader’s attention due to the cognitive load imposed if not due to the lack of clarity around the embedded ideas. Punchiness, which is to say the conciseness of an idea making it more pointed and recognizable, is of course a primary goal of a writer trying to impart ideas… and imparting ideas is the sole, or at least a primary, purpose of writing to begin with.

    The first paragraph is better. 😉

    • SuperStrapper

      You literally committed the same crimes you accuse David of in this post tho.

      • David Bredan

        I see his point and I’ll try and improve on this in the future. That said, I certainly don’t want to do it like anyone else does, and I maintain my trust in my readers’ ability to maintain their attention – if they really are interested in what is being discussed. Well noted.

        • John Effing Zoidberg

          This one seemed more Baroque than usual. I skimmed a lot of it.

      • Tony NW

        Go back and re-read. Especially the last sentence of the first paragraph. The second paragraph was illustrative, intentionally.

        If you’re barely skimming the text, and missing that much context, I can understand how David’s text isn’t any less comprehensible for you.

        • SuperStrapper

          Wow, sick burn dude.

      • John Effing Zoidberg

        He literally said that he was going to do that as an example.

        • SuperStrapper

          I guess it’s not only golf balls I hit high.

    • 200F

      Holy pedantic, Batman. I didn’t see any requests for your writing tips. He has his own style, which I find to be quite engaging. (Sorry if the preceding sentence was too long.)

  • One of my grails…a badass luxury tool watch.

  • Jon Heinz

    This is on my short list. There always seems to be at least one or two out on the secondary market at any given time, so yeah, someday. This, or a Blancpain FF of some sort.

  • Nello Alexandri

    I cannot believe my eyes. Great article David.

    • David Bredan

      Well, you better believe ’em. Thanks.

  • David Bredan

    🙁

  • David Bredan

    What I really want to know is why they haven’t realized (or if they have, then how can they justify) JLC not being the technical, modern brand that could serve as a strong alternative to steel Rolexes? JLC could have steel divers and steel (or cermet) chronographs that tick all the right boxes that (it feels weird to say but let’s imagine for a second) people could actually buy in a boutique for 7-10k. How is this not a thing from JLC is absolutely beyond me.
    Killing off JLC’s modern and innovative side is a side-effect, I reckon, of both indecisiveness and in trying to maintain a level playing field among Richemont brand collections in any given affordable price segment.

    It is absolutely true that Richemont had too many overlaps – and bad overlaps, not good ones. However, as I have said in the article I linked to about Jerome Lambert becoming Richemont CEO, part of the prevailing problem is that I see Richemont sometimes trying so hard to separate products (by literally denying certain features or selling points from each) that they at times end up with weak products (because they weakened them) that are so limited they end up failing to attract buyers.
    JLC I thought never worked as a poor man’s Patek at all – I don’t see the appeal of the basic Master line at all because (again, but for other reasons), I feel they are held back from greatness in design refinement. They just simply don’t look good to me at all.

    • Gastarbeiter

      Same could apply for the new Baume&Mercier Clifton too.

      Minor tweaks and could sell in myriads. Not to mention if new Calibre is introduced to the diver too. Would be a killer.

      Will it take sales from Portofino or Master Control or even Ingenieur?
      Probably, but why not? It would also take from.Longines, Omegas Aquaterras and so on.

      Just let them all shine!

    • commentator bob

      Agreed JLC should be innovative, but not in a “Navy Seal Tough” way. That is Panerai and IWC territory. They should have the most innovative, complicated, and accurate movements in Richemont.

  • Nice score David! Great watch! However, from looking at the close ups; I think you should get a soft horsehair brush and some non-detergent soap (I use car wash soap), and give that puppy a good cleaning.

    • David Bredan

      Thanks Mark! I totally agree and my plan was to have the movement removed and put the bracelet and case through some good ultra-sound cleaning (one I heard is not supposed to do that with the movement in…).

      • Yes, I think you are correct……….

    • G Street

      Aesop hand soap and an old toothbrush works great also. I never wash my car so my options are limited 🙂

  • TheChuphta

    Mr. Bredan is undoubtedly my favorite writer here (or any other watch site), but this watch is a brutal hodgepodge of misses. The Navy SEALs tie-in is preposterous and uniquely embarassing in that their association diminishes both brands (a google search reveals that the SEALs are strangley casual with lending their name to some wacky stuff). Frankly, it looks like it would be sold alongside a Rambo knife with a compass in its handle and some waterproof matches in the back of Boy’s Life magazine. David, I’m glad you dig this, but this was almost like listening to a respected friend heap praise on his goofy, underachieving child.

    • David Bredan

      I’d be in for that Rambo knife it had nice beveled edges! Just kidding, of course! I really appreciate your kind words and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the watch. It is wacky, I agree – it just happened to be a type of wacky that resonated with me. It certainly won’t with everyone (and that’s alright, only 1,500 numbered pieces exist anyway).

  • David Bredan

    The thing is that not many people are “*really*” diving. That’s an age-old conversation that we have had a gazillion times here – if you want a pro diver, get one. This isn’t one, clearly. What “most of these dive watches” do is irrelevant – what I care about is this watch not falling apart and I doubt it will with 300m water resistance. And it has held up exceptionally well for an 8-9-year-old watch. The Swiss have supplied many things to many armies – but even if they hadn’t, I’d still like the idea of JLC reaching out to them.
    Reach to the Navy SEALs > reach to the archive drawer (in my opinion).

  • David Bredan

    It is only now that I read your take on it that I realized I don’t think I would’ve gotten this watch if it was a black bracelet on an all-black case. Momentarily I just don’t like black cased watches that much (I expect that to change without prior notice), but I did like this. To each their own, truly.

    • SuperStrapper

      Yeah, I wouldn’t want that either. This watch just wants a plain metal bracelet to match and actually compliment the watch.
      A rubberized bracelet of this type in a medium grey and the case being DLC’d (or similar) in the same tone would be the best of both worlds: have the fantastic bracelet feel and the watch would have a homogeneous appearance.

  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    Superb article, really wondering when JLC/the industry will listen.

    Honestly I want to sit down with David in a pub and hear his uncensored off the record version of this article; it would be a blast!

    • David Bredan

      Haha, thank you, glad you enjoyed the article! I hope we’ll get to do GTGs sometime in major cities of the world — chatting over a good pint of beer would certainly be easier than typing out 4,950 words!

  • Farkbinder012

    Hello, David. Terrific article, as usual!! I agree with you about the squandered future potential. I have the Coultre Master Compressor Diving Chronograph with all three bracelets. The rubber bracelet is still the best of it’s kind I’ve ever handled. Purchased when originally released, too. Just received it back from the Jaeger Spa, case and titanium bracelet look brand new. OK, enough about me. Please wear in the best of health.

    • David Bredan

      Hello, thank you for your kind words! Happy to hear you have a Master Compressor and enjoy wearing it! Best of wishes with it for you too.

  • DG

    I absolutely love this watch. But I do agree with the comments about the bracelet. If it was stainless steel I’d add it to my grail list.

    • David Bredan

      I believe there shouldn’t be any problem whatsoever fitting the steel equivalent of this bracelet, the one on this piece: Q187T170

  • Sheez Gagoo

    I always appreciated Mr Bredans particular taste and writing but this nonsensical watch is a monument of what’s wrong with JLC and the whole Swiss industry. The schablonenumbers are ridiculous, the black bracelet looks like from a cheap Chinese aftermarket supplier and I guess no Navy Seal would lean on a JLC instead of a G. The build quality looks mediocre and the painting on the crown tube is beyond good and evil. A Turtle is in any kind of way more badass than this watch ever will be. Due to the fact that Hungary is a semi free country and I think Orban still let people chose their own watches I respect his choice, like I have to respect my almost bald friends undercut.

    • David Bredan

      Thanks for your kind words and sharing your take on it!

  • Boris N. Natasha

    David, thanks for sharing your review — you’ve risen to the top of the totem pole in my books, by buying a watch you love, and, love to wear!

    • David Bredan

      That’s so great to hear, thank you for your kind words!

  • thebarhound

    I agree. Keep writing. If someone wants to skip your articles, let them. The rest of us will keep reading. To each their own on writing styles and watches.

    • David Bredan

      Will keep at it! I appreciate your support, thank you.

  • Great article and great watch, that’s one of the best JLC sports watches of all time. And it’s a good size too. The other one I really like is the Master Compressor Memovox, with the twin compressor crowns and internal rotating bezel.
    JLC needs to bring back more of these tooly yet elegant sports watches, but Richmont is holding them back to stop them stepping on Panerai and IWCs toes. The Polaris was a step in the right direction, but they somehow managed to remove all personality from that watch.

    • David Bredan

      Yep, total lack of personality indeed.

  • commentator bob

    JLC is a brand I usually don’t follow, but wow, there are two WAY better JLC dive watch references:

    Q187T170 – Just as technical as this watch, including the crown lock, plus GMT and a proper matching bracelet.

    Q9008180 – Stunningly good looking watch (the opposite of this), with more water resistance than needed and a display back to enjoy the over-complicated JLC movement.

    The reason this is called the Navy Seal version is that only a Navy Seal can still attract women and not get made fun of wearing it.

    • David Bredan

      I can see the appeal of Q187T170 but it really isn’t for me. To my eyes the Q9008180 is the opposite of this in that I like the SEALs but not that one. Funny how that works. At least we know for sure that they are very different indeed.

  • Joe

    I’m a bit late arriving to this comments section but what a passionately written article…bravo!
    I really enjoyed reading this (regardless of whether I love this particular watch or not).

    After having sold my Rolex Submariner, I was looking for something exciting and really wanted to like their 3-hander Polaris line…but once again David’s article snapped me back to reality. JLC’s current sports models are very disappointing, especially their 38h power reserve (Polaris Date) and 10bar water resistance (Polaris Automatic). The Memovox is cool but too thick (for me) at almost 16mm.

    For whatever (irrational) reason, JLC is my favourite brand but I can’t find **anything in their range that I want to buy.

    **In a parallel world where I’m not into sports watches so much, I’d be buying their Reversos and MUT Moons by the truckload, because they are so nice.

    • commentator bob

      To me the Polaris Q9008180 is a perfect watch for a JLC fan. Great looking watch. Legit JLC movement that you can see. Tough enough for every day wear. 10 ATM / 100 M / 330 Feet is fine. Only incredibly advanced divers go beyond 130 Feet. You’ll be fine swimming and at the beach.

      By the way, the Reverso is a sports watch. One of the first. That is why is reverses.

      • Joe

        I guess I should really find out for myself but as I understand, the Polaris Automatic doesn’t have screw down crowns.
        I go nowhere near 100m but I think that a line of watches that has diving heritage should lean towards having more of that capability rather than less.

        I agree that the Reverso was a sports watch in its time but I don’t think it’s really regarded as such now.
        Additionally, I should have qualified that I love being in the water and so by “sports” I would prefer my watches to have ~10bar water resistance if possible.

        • David Bredan

          Thank you both for sharing. I still deeply dislike the Polaris but if it makes someone happy then it’s done what it was supposed to do.

  • Dénes Albert

    I have one of these and happen to agree with most of what David wrote, both the good and the bad. Legibility is where our opinions diverge. Granted, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but I have no problem telling the time on any other diver. On this one, however, when the lighting is anything less than ideal and the two hands are about five minutes or less apart, it is near impossible to tell which is which. The date sits in a well so deep that it is only visible from a straight angle.

    I also fully agree that the overall wearing experience is absolutely great, as is the bracelet. Yes, it is up there with the best bracelets I have ever had the pleasure of wearing.

    This whole Navy SEALS thing, though, is pure and unadulterated cattle manure. JLC may have given them a few prototypes for testing, but whether they actually even listened to – let alone incorporated – the feedback is anybody’s guess. I also seriously doubt any armed force in the world would spend $7,500 on general-issue wristwatches. In fact, active or retired special forces people on most watch forums say that they wear $50 G-Shocks.

  • JLC.. don’t think too much outside the box, a regular rubber strap or SS bracelet would do, this looks weird.

  • David Bredan

    Thank you very much!

  • David Bredan

    Thanks! Will always try and improve on the weak points and I do appreciate all feedback, good or bad, as long as it’s shared in a constructive manner. I appreciate your support.

  • David Bredan

    Thanks, that’s good to hear. Feedback like that means a lot because we really are flying blind a lot of the time, feeling that our writing changes over time — it’s sometimes good to hear back on whether for the better or worse. I don’t trouble myself with it too much, just try and take in all that sounds reasonable and feasible.

  • al-nitak

    Great prose, appallingly ugly watch. I really can’t understand how is it possible that so many distinguished Readers can consider it a grail watch, but – after all – if I were to tell which is mine I bet I would be submerged by scornful critics. We here say: the world is beautiful because it’s various (to each his own).

  • Charlie Sherlock

    Brilliant article David. I had a JLC Master Compressor in my collection for a while, a lovely watch. I never realized that this watch existed in the JLC collection. This is a fantastic looking watch. The bracelet wouldn’t be to my taste, but the dial is just perfect and very very cool.

    You make an excellent point, if you are prepared to look beyond the obvious you can find superb pieces. I’m thinking of the Breguet Type XX as a very cool alternative to the more established alternatives, and a better watch to boot. The fact that no one knows what it is when it is on your wrist, that’s a bonus!

  • As others have said, illegible “diver”. The hashes and hour markers are textbook mistakes in design—they make everything look disconnected, as a clone frankenwatch. The digits are just terrible, like those cardboard or plastic sheets we used as kids to paint letters and numbers. The ceramic inserts are a joke for sure, and I’m marveled they don’t call this abomination the “Master Compressor Navy Seals Automatic Queen of Hearts.

    Congrats I suppose, because you seem happy about your purchase—or maybe you are over-rationalizing a terrible mistake.

  • wallymann

    yep, *lots* of Navy SEALs blowing a big chunk of their annual salary on some high-falutin mechanical watch.

  • ncgh

    It’s unfortunate that these ‘military grade’ watches are all show and still use basic common watch movements. Once you open the exotic looking case, you start to realize it’s all a(n expensive) facade

    [should clarify, not all brands are doing this but you’d never know from the marketing. I recently changed a battery in a quartz model from a manufacturer whose whole marketing is about military and SAR heritage. But inside was a generic Ronda movement and a rather normal plastic retainer structure…. certainly not even close to a cheap Gshock.]

  • Pentti Jakonen

    So what’s a reasonable power reserve for a 4 hz movement then? Longer is better, but automatic watches are meant to be worn so this sounds like a strange complaint. Longer power reserve also tends to affect the accuracy.

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