As we close out summer and rush into the second half of the year, it was beginning to look like a year focused on heritage and classics for Jaeger-LeCoultre. Watches and Wonders releases were centered around the Reverso, and a new batch of vintage watches are up for grabs through the brand’s “The Collectibles” initiative. But a subtle update to the Polaris collection — revived only five years ago — has been squeezed in just in time to close out the summer, and it makes all the difference.

While the core design remains unchanged, the new Polaris Chronograph features two new thickly lacquered dials (35 layers of hand-applied clear lacquer alone) that look to add intense depth to the textured and sunburst sections of the dial. The high-gloss gradient lacquer dials are framed by an opaline tachymeter chapter ring and JLC presents a “warm gray” dial color for the first time. Both new dials play on the ever-popular “panda” motif with contrasting matte black-grained subdials and orange accents that lean into the sportier heritage of the Polaris.

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You could be forgiven for thinking the latest Polaris Chronograph watches are just another dial color branded and celebrated as a novel release like so many other so-called “new watches” these days. Alas, this update has a bit more hiding behind the new dials — a healthy update to the movement itself. A new movement, the in-house calibre 761 leads to a change that I am sure many will be glad to see—a running seconds hand. Building off the architecture of the calibre 751, the integrated vertical clutch column-wheel chronograph movement has now shed its 12-hour recorder in lieu of a running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. Notably, the calibre 751 which many regarded as a late arrival to the column-wheel chronograph party in the early 2000s, lacked a seconds hand. This small feature is often a dealbreaker for many watch buyers. Alternatively, the argument could be made that this update decreases the functionality of the watch, but if you’re like me, you will forget what you were timing by the 30-minute maximum anyway.

Much like its predecessor, the calibre 761 is powered by twin barrels providing 65 hours of power reserve while operating at 4Hz but now with a hacking mechanism for the running seconds. Like all Jaeger-LeCoultre movements, it is subject to the brand’s 1000 Hours Control testing—a six-week rigorous test to ensure your watch is up to snuff. The movement is finished with blued screws, Côtes de Geneve decoration, and a view of the column wheel through the skeletonized rotor thanks to the sapphire display caseback.

The case of the Polaris Chronograph is unchanged with this update. It still measures 42mm in diameter, 48.5mm lug to lug, with a manageable 13.39mm thickness. In my experience with previous Polaris models, the watches wear thinner due to the box-style crystal. The stainless steel case has a mix of sharp brushing and highly polished bevels in photos. The Polaris Chronograph maintains its dive-watch-history chops with 100 meters of water resistance, but the brand does not advise actuating the chronograph below the surface.

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Overall the Polaris received a pleasant quality of life update, with exciting and enticing new dials and a solid evolution to an existing movement. These updates do come with a slight price increase, but for those wishing for a slightly more aggressive tool watch from Jaeger-LeCoultre, it looks like your prayers have been answered. The warm gray Polaris chronograph comes on a textile and rubber strap, while the blue features the brushed and polished stainless steel bracelet and rubber strap. I embrace the brand leaning back into a more aggressive design, and if I were in the market for a Polaris, the decision just got easier.

The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronographs are priced at $14,300 USD for warm gray(reference Q902843J) on straps, and $14,800 USD for blue (ref. Q902818) on steel with a rubber strap. Learn more about these new Polaris Chronograph watches on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s website.


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