Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox side by side: Master Control & Polaris Mariner

Comparative review between a restrained gentleman and a daring adventurer

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Reinterpreting the original 1950’s Memovox, or paying homage to the brand’s first diver, Jaeger-LeCoultre relives its classic alarm watch in two similar yet very distinctive variations: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox. We have a look today at both versions to find their specific strengths and beauties. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Way before the digital era, or even the quartz era, the alarm watches for travellers were usually the reduced travel clocks. By bringing the alarm to the wrist, a new revolution in mobility concur. Even if the alarm timing is not by the second or minute, it was and still is a practical complication. Adding an alarm to a diving watch increases the usability of the watch. Combining the rotating bezel with an alarm, a diver can use visual and acoustic (or vibrations on the wrist) for different or the same “timer”.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Using the Memovox function (a portmanteau from lat. “memoria” – memory and “vox” – voice) is a very intuitive process. Although, setting a more precise alarm time requires a bit of accommodation. It is interesting to see that the voices of the two wristwatches differ due to the case size and construction – a natural expression of physics.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox hands-on video:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox hands-on video:

The Memovox – a side by side comparative review

My personal view of these two pieces is just like a conservative gentleman versus a daring explorer. Making abstraction of the alarm function present on both, the watches can make be part of the same collection without the feeling of overlapping.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Two different steel cases

Master Control Memovox is a reinterpretation of a classic. The watch is presented in a refined 40mm steel case. The brushed finish of the caseband contrasts with the mirror-polished sloped bezel. The bezel angle and finish is continued on the dynamically curved slim lugs. The entire appearance is balanced and has a classic elegance often met at the Jaeger-LeCoultre pieces. The watch is also relatively slim with only 12.39mm thickness.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

The Polaris Mariner Memovox is another breed. Strong bold lines with several sharp angles and a  much more contrasting approach. The brushing is realised with a larger granularity. The lugs are more robust with a wider, corpulent body. The case is larger – 42mm and taller – 15.63mm. The box crystal contributes to the larger feel. Despite the increased dimensions,  the watch is, according to today’s standard, a normal appearance.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox features two crowns. The 4 o’clock position is reserved for the time setting and winding. Positioned at 2 o’clock, the alarm’s crown is used for setting and winding the complication. The watch is fitted with a nice brown leather strap that can be, of course, changed if desired. But I find the JLC‘s choice quite proper.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

The diver is fitted with the same movement, so the 2 and 4 o’clock crowns are used for the same functions (alarm and time). The middle crown, in the traditional 3 0’clock position, is used for the ratcheted rotating inner bezel – the diver watch’s a must. In the hands-on video, the diver bezel’s sound can be clearly heard. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox is fitted with a metal bracelet with alternating polish/brushed finishes.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

Elegance versus sportiveness

The Master Control Memovox comes with a traditional Jaeger-LeCoultre dial. Being inspired by the 1950 Memovox, the Master Control brings many familiar details. Starting with the applied indexes with Arabic numerals with the specific font for the 12, 6 and 9 o’clock and ending with the watch hands.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

The silvery sunrayed dial is decorated with black printing. The outer chapter ring holds luminescent semi-spheres as hours indexes / 5 minutes intervals. The dauphine hands are also touched with luminescent, visible through a longitudinal cut. The central seconds’ hand is thermally blued. As a nice touch, the date aperture reveals a blue date on white background.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

The Memovox function uses a central disc with applied triangles, corresponding to a chapter track on the inner side of the main dial.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

The Polaris Mariner Memovox present, at a first view of the specifications’ lists the same set of decorations. But with a modern, bold twist. We find again applied indexes but much larger and the luminescent is now generously filling the indexes instead of a separate positioning.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

The font used for the indexes is different, much larger, also with generously applied SuperLuminova. The watch hands are a modern interpretation of dauphine, with three-dimensional architecture and skeletonisation.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

The seconds’ hand received a central Luminescent island and an orange lacquered tip. The orange accents can be observed on the diver inner bezel and on the alarm disk.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

The sunray dial is covered with a translucent blue lacquer with a degrade/fume effect. This nautical theme is fitting perfect the Jaeger-LeCoultre diving watch. More detailed pictures can be seen in the gallery.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Calibre 956

Both Memovox variations presented today are powered by the Calibre 956. The direct descendant of the Jaeger-LeCoultre‘s original calibre. The 1950 Memovox was powered by the manual-winding Calibre 489. The next generation of alarm watches came in 1956 with the automatic Calibre 815. This was improved a few years later by adding the date complication, becoming the Calibre 825. Polaris diver is a descendant of 1963’s Memovox Polaris, presenting a triple case back to make the watch well audible underwater.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Introduced in 2008, the Calibre 956 is the latest iteration of the alarm movement. The new movement was revisited and updated – the calibre was modified to adapt the new crystal exhibition back. While the new version allowed to see the alarm in action, it required another approach for the striking mechanism.

Calibre 956 contains 271 parts, operates at 4 Hz and offers a 45-hour power reserve. The new see-through case-back reveals the beautiful finishes. The charm of the Memovox, the alarm complication retained its signature “school bell” sound.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox side by side: Master Control & Polaris Mariner

Master Control and Polaris Mariner are both examples of how great Jaeger-LeCoultre can be. Two different intended watches: one as an elegant watch for the discerned gentleman, one a pure sports breed for the adventurer in you. Two different approaches of the same function, the alarm watch.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox is a classic piece with sartorial ambitions, office and other conservative-oriented lifestyles.  It wears comfortable. The understated presence will attract only the views of the connoisseurs. A lovely daily piece to keep your most important event of the day reminded by your wrist companion.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox is the daring sporty adventurer prepared to take land and sea, by storm if necessary… It is a bold appearance with the charm of a JLC piece. Its dimensions combined with the bracelet are not too heavy and impose no issues for someone used to bracelet pieces. A direct comparison, while not equitable will find the Polaris quite heavy, or the Master quite light (depending on which direction the change is made).

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

I have to make a note for the Polaris bracelet: not only that is excellently done, I particularly love the butterfly clasp.

Conclusions

Two extraordinary watches, so different in intend but so similar in transmitting the pure feel of  Jaeger-LeCoultre. The brand managed to create with the same movement two beautiful watches dedicated to the duality of the human spirit: the need for stability and continuity versus the itching of exploring and the need of pushing ourselves further.

Technical Specifications and Price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox

Reference Q4118420

Functions

  • Hours/minutes/seconds
  • Date
  • Alarm (Memovox function)

Movement

  • Automatic mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Components: 271
  • Vibrations per hour: 28800
  • Jewels: 24
  • Barrel: 1
  • Height: 7.47 mm

Case

  • Stainless steel with satin and polished finishes
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Thickness: 12.39mm
  • Case-back: open
  • Water resistance: 5 bar

Dial

  • Silver sunray dial

Price

  • CHF 11,600.- / 11.900 € / £10,300 / $11,600 (excl Tax) / S$17,300 / CN¥93,000 / J¥1,372,800

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox

Reference Q9038180

Functions

  • Hours/minutes/seconds
  • Date
  • Alarm (Memovox function)
  • Unidirectional rotating inner bezel

Movement

  • Automatic mechanical movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956
  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Components: 271
  • Vibrations per hour: 28800
  • Jewels: 24
  • Barrel: 1
  • Height: 7.47 mm

Case

  • Stainless steel with satin and polished finishes
  • Diameter: 42mm
  • Thickness: 15.63mm
  • Case-back: open
  • Water resistance: 30 bar

Dial

  • Gradient blue dial,
  • Sunrayed
  • Grained and opaline finishes

Price

  • CHF 16,900.- / 17.300 € / £15,800 / $17,600 (excl Tax) / S$25,900 / CN¥142,000 / J¥2,050,400

Memovox, the gallery

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