Hands-on with the most complicated reference in Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new sporty range.
By Justin Mastine-Frost
When Jaeger-LeCoultre rebooted the Polaris collection at SIHH earlier this year, commemorating the iconic model’s 50th anniversary, there was a lot to take in. The Memovox and 3-hand variants garnered plenty of attention from the get-go, however at a personal level the World Time Chronograph instantly ticked quite a few boxes. A clean, legible dial, two-register hour and minutes chronograph, and an easy to adjust world time function, all crammed into a lightweight titanium case, for a very modest £12,500 seemed like such a no-brainer, leaving me with only one point of concern—would its 44mm case size wind up being a bit overpowering on the wrist? A quick on-wrist trial during the fair gave the impression that its case size wasn’t taken a step too far, but as with most things a more lengthy evaluation seemed to be the smartest move to get a better feel for the watch.
At a cursory glance, the initial draw to the Polaris WT Chrono was as much visual as it was functional. Given the use of multiple dial finishes, applied indices, recessed subdials, and a bizarre cross-dial “hand” that provides a day/night division, you’d be prone to call the new world time chrono a bit busy, but for some strange reason it doesn’t leave that impression on the wrist. Both its chronograph and its world time indication are immediately legible, and being a two-register hour/minute chronograph further adds to its practicality.
One of the reasons I was so taken with this piece is this more practical version of the complication. So many world time chronographs are either a jam-packed 3-register variant (Breitling, Bremont, and previously even Girard-Perregaux), whereas the few two-register chrono world time watches out there only feature a 30-minute chronograph counter (Patek Philippe, and the Zenith Duomatic, among others). While some may be miffed by the lack of a running seconds counter, I’ll take the trade-off any day of the week.
After extended wear, I did find the aforementioned day/night division hand to be more of a distraction than anything, especially as it overlapped the chronograph subdials. Given that its 24h ring features a split of white with blue indices for day and blue with white indices for night, adding an extra feature like this for day/night indication is redundant.
From a functional standpoint, this is another one of those great Jaeger-LeCoultre models that is as much a joy functionally as it is visually. Operating its chronograph yields firm yet satisfying engagement, and adjusting the city ring on the fly is about as simple as it gets. Having got used to adjustment either via multi-position crown or pushbutton, the dedicated crown setup remains my favourite means of world time adjustment (you may remember a similar setup on the Chopard Time Traveller One I reviewed a few months back). The Calibre 752A uses a pair of mainspring barrels to push a power reserve of approximately 65 hours, and at a relatively slender 5.7mm, it allowed JLC to keep the World Time Chrono’s case thickness down to 12.5mm.
Given its 44mm case diameter, overall thickness was to be next on the list of concerns, but for a casual-wear piece it certainly does not feel bulky on the wrist. This feeling is also helped along by the fact that JLC opted to use titanium for the casing of this model, while the balance of the Polaris lineup is cased in steel. This seems a little unorthodox to split materials for a single piece like this (not counting precious metals), and though the steel cases help keep pricing down on the more entry-level spec models, it would have been pretty cool had JLC rolled out an entire line of all-titanium Polaris models.
Paired with a sturdy chocolate brown leather strap, the Polaris World Time Chronograph proved to be a very comfortable selection for daily wear. Its titanium case keeps its weight to a minimum without feeling flimsy, and thanks to its stubby angular lugs, it hugs the wrist quite well even on my 6 ¾” wrist.
The strap is a touch stiff upon first arrival, though it has a curve to it straight out of the factory, and I can only suspect that regular wear will soften it up nicely. JLC has a great track record in recent years of crafting more casual and sporty watches that you could pass off with a shirt and blazer, and this piece is no exception. Though much too large when compared to conventional dress watches, its modest case profile would make it a perfectly acceptable selection when going out in “business casual” or cocktail attire.
Other than a faint gripe about that day/night indication, and a personal preference for the piece to be 42mm across if I had my druthers, there’s not a lot to dislike about the Polaris World Time Chronograph. Currently available in a black dial as well as the blue variant as tested, I suspect this will be another easy sell for the brand, much like the vintage-inspired Master Control models were in 2017. Priced at 12,500 GBP it’s quite fairly priced as well, as has been the case with many of the brand’s releases in recent years.