Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Geographic WT: The World On Your Wrist
Options: they are everywhere around us and have somewhat taken over our lives. Multiple options are a luxury of the developed world, and many don’t even realize how special they are. In many parts of the world, it is commonplace for there only to be one choice for most things. Very lucky is if there is a choice between two options.
The abundance of possibilities, best on display at grocery stores and clothing retailers, is a strictly modern invention, one that has changed the way we think about the products we consume.
No longer do we simply choose red or blue; we can now select virtually every single feature on thousands of products. Don’t like the shape of the buttons on that radio? There is one next to it with different buttons that all do the same things.
Like a thin, deep v-necked collar on your t-shirts? Here they are, next to the thicker, high v-collared t-shirts, both available in six different colors.
No matter what the product, a quick search on Amazon will return oodles of options. As an example, a search for v-necked t-shirts returned more than 80,000 results. Eighty thousand possibilities.
Even when you eliminate all the results that have the letter “v” or the word “neck” in them, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of options.
And this is what people have come to expect in searching for what they want. I fall victim to this as well, finding myself annoyed when I only find one or two choices for any particular search. And the watch industry is not immune, especially when you look for a specific style of timepiece.
While some may see choice as superfluous and complicating the process (I admit that making decisions between only two choices is much easier than between seven), what it also does is allow people to really focus on the details of what they want, ideally leading to a watch that is everything they could hope for.
Choice also allows designers a chance to try various ideas and judge the ideas’ successes (or not). This is why new models that have similar functions to previous or current models are very purposeful for a buyer: the details are generally similar, yet different enough that small changes can be chosen (or not).
One recent timepiece that is about providing options is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Geographic WT with a new take on an established model in the Jaeger-LeCoultre arsenal.
Options from Jaeger-LeCoultre
Jaeger-LeCoultre provides lots of options, with dozens of references in different metals, dials, colors, and styles. For world time/time zone function watches alone, the Le Sentier-based brand offers 13 different options to choose from: you can have it with a miniature globe and a 24-hour ring, each individual time zone marked (with or without globe dial), or even a small window for a selected time zone in a variety of trim styles.
You might think that the designers have thought of everything, but looking across the industry helps you understand that 13 different options is still just a drop in the bucket for possible layouts and solutions for displaying world time zones.
That is where design curation comes in. The world time options from Jaeger-LeCoultre follow patterns based on what the designers feel works well together. There are four options with dial-spanning globes and peripheral world city disks, and again four options with complete city disks visible but with no globes. And another four options feature time zone windows where the disk is only partially displayed, providing three main styles making up the bulk of the options, but each one with its own uniqueness.
The designers behind Jaeger-LeCoultre must give designers at Rolex a case of envy, as they have a decent variety to work with and the ability to try new combinations to make changes to established ideas. Everything still fits into categories and makes sense within a collection, but there is a certain amount of freedom at the design stage. At the same time, working with established movements can help to organize the design direction and make it stick with the successful solutions engineers have already produced.
Limitations enable a different set of choices
The Polaris Geographic WT is a watch designed to fill a need, specifically a need to have a Polaris model that focuses on travel as the main function. Since the Polaris collection is a stylistic descendant of the vintage Memovox Polaris, the details are ready and waiting to be played with.
The dial focuses on the second time zone, date, and power reserve instead of the dual chronograph counters of the preceding model with the added world time function. The layout isn’t completely symmetrical like the Chronograph WT introduced in January 2018, but it feels more useful for the traveler.
The Chronograph WT doesn’t display any local time zone, so it is more of a reference than a truly travel-oriented watch. The home time subsidiary dial on the Geographic WT allows for a true visual understanding of times in multiple places instead of just a scale at the periphery.
The one quirk of the layout might be the power reserve indication as that subsidiary dial has a fan shape and disrupts symmetry. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: if the dial had three round subsidiary dials it might be easily mistaken for a regular chronograph or perhaps a perpetual calendar, the Geographic WT thereby losing its unique spirit.
The Geographic WT i is the only watch in the entire Polaris line that doesn’t have a perfectly symmetrical dial; all the others don’t stray from classic layout dynamics.
And while the Geographic WT isn’t a crazy avant-garde MB&F, it does allow for a slight departure from the norm – something for those who like a little salt in their coffee and Tabasco sauce on their eggs.
The design intent of the Polaris collection is “modern vintage.” Attempting to honor a historical watch and using a standard movement sounds like it might result in an almost generic or dated design, but the designers at Jaeger-LeCoultre seem to know something about keeping a style fresh and relevant while giving a nod to history.
Working within constraints has allowed JLC to really look at the Polaris collection and avoid tropes of making “new vintage” pieces look too original without adding in current sensibilities.
This is why Jaeger-LeCoultre is such a fantastic watchmaker: it considers not only what the watch needs to be, but what it can be in a multitude of contexts. It didn’t just make a watch that reminds you of the brand’s past, it also made a watch that, without the historical concept, would still be a clean, smart, and functional standalone collection.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a master at many things, and one of those things is understanding the craft in its current context and not only as a relic of the past to be celebrated. Its different collections show that watchmaking can indeed evolve with the times and technology without needing to rely only on nostalgia for the past.
The Reverso is popular because it is a very unique and beautiful watch that has been continually updated so that it is not just a holdover from the past. And the reintroduction of the Polaris collection in 2018 didn’t just pander to the vintage market, but created something that made sense today.
The Geographic WT is the best example as it has no historical counterpart to emulate, so the freedom to create is still pretty wide open. The result was clearly a solid watch that would stand out as a clean world time option in a rather developed segment of the watch world.
But what else would you expect from a brand like Jaeger-LeCoultre? It has been marching steadily forward for years, respecting its roots but not being afraid to continue designing for the world it actually inhabits. I really enjoy the new Geographic WT, not only as a watch but as a testament to the design culture at Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Its collections show that there won’t be any lazy attempts at nostalgia, but instead a future directed by the very people that make up the brand you see today.
So let’s break it all down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.15 A smart-looking world timer with historical ties but that feels modern at the same time. Yes, please!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 73.8 » 723.730m/s2 Just having the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo on the dial is enough to keep nearly any serious watch lover lusting into the night!
- M.G.R. * 42.2 Quality in-house movement with dual time zone, world time, date, and power reserve makes a pretty serious mechanism!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate Three extra indications makes for a rather loaded timepiece and the need for extra-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream!
- Ouch Outline * 8.4 Squishing a finger under a table top! Sometimes a heavy table is kept deliberately in pieces to allow for easy transport, but during said transport things can get dicey. But I would definitely take the risk of a squish for a chance to get ahold of this JLC dish!
- Mermaid Moment First time you travel! Sometimes it takes being used just the way it is intended to be used for love to grow from an ember. The Geographic WT begs to be a companion on trips across the sea or into the future!
- Awesome Total * 758 Multiply the diameter in millimeters (42) to the number of time zones displayed (24), then subtract the number in the limited edition (250) for a very worldly awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.
Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Geographic WT
Case: 42 x 11.54 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 936A/1
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; second time zone, date, power reserve
Limitation: 250 pieces (boutique only)
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6 New Watches In Jaeger-LeCoultre 2018 Polaris Collection Including A New Memovox Model
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Also published on Medium.