Famed as the watchmaker's watchmaker, Jaeger-LeCoultre have been known to joust with horological heavyweights in the past, but one of their most iconic collections is derived from a battle with a lesser-known brand, Vulcain. After Vulcain released the Cricket, the world's first successful alarm watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre responded with the Memovox. As the battle tore on, the brand developed a dive watch version of the Memovox in 1959, the Deep Sea Alarm, making it the first alarm dive watch ever made. This model then inspired JLC to release the Memovox Polaris in 1968. Featuring the same twin-crown system for winding and setting the alarm and time as the Deep Sea Alarm but with a chunkier case with improved visibility and usability, the Polaris went on to become an iconic dive watch with a practical function that was executed well thanks to its triple-layered ESPA compressor case.
In 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to pay tribute to the very first Polaris with the aptly named "Memovox Tribute to Polaris" by releasing a 768 piece limited-edition, historically accurate interpretation of that now-iconic timepiece. Featuring a modern interpretation of the 42mm stainless steel case used on the original, the Tribute version features no bezel, three crowns, and a heavily domed thick acrylic crystal that all combine to feed the vintage-inspired aesthetic and feel of this timepiece.
Included with its historically accurate construction, the Tribute also features a period-correct movement, the JLC cal. 956. The crown at 2 o'clock operates to wind and adjust the alarm, the crown at 3 o'clock operates the inner rotating bezel, while the crown at 4 o'clock is used to set the time and allow for manual winding of the movement. With the perforated case back hiding the movement beneath, the Tribute receives 200m of water resistance, another point of historical accuracy.
Finally, we have the Tribute's stunning matte black dial featuring large triangular hour indices with Arabic numerals found at 12, 6, and 9 and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. What makes this particular example very special is that of the 768 piece limited run, the very early examples had very orange ‘pumpkin’ lumes. Interestingly, according to the original owner, these examples were recalled by the brand to be changed to the more subtle creamy yellow you usually see for this reference but as demonstrated by this Polaris example, the previous owner declined. It is not known how many ‘pumpkin’ Polaris’ are out there, but you certainly do not see many around.
Overall, a stunning example of what can be achieved when historical accuracy is prioritized, the Tribute is an effortlessly classical and functional timepiece thanks to its vintage-inspired aesthetic and position as a practical dive watch.