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Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph
No need for alarm, its totally disarming
In the 1950’s diver’s watches were in their infancy. Cousteau was delighting audiences with his films such as Le Monde du Silence only a few years after he jointly invented the Aqua-Lung with Emile Gagnan .
Early diver’s watches featured uni-directional bezels to time precisely the ascent to the surface to avoid decompression sickness, sometimes referred to as “the bends”.
Jaeger-LeCoultre have always been innovators. This is demonstrated by the number of patents the company holds, 390 at the last count (January 2012).
The brand from the Vallée de Joux did not follow the crowd but sought its own answers, providing the perfect aide mémoire, an alarm for use underwater. This novel solution is eminently sensible as sound in water travels significantly faster than in air, hence the alarm is readily audible to the wearer.
The 1959 Memovox Deep Sea became sought after by divers and watch collectors alike. In 2011, Jaeger-LeCoultre launched its Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea. A modern interpretation of the original, it retained many of its features faithfully.
In 2012, a new model sharing similar design language to the 1959 original has been launched. However, instead of an alarm, the watch is fitted with a chronograph function. The watch is water resistant to 100 metres.
Diver’s watches have evolved since 1959 with the advent of helium valves and more robust fabrication, depths of 1000 metres and beyond are not uncommon. If you look within the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s existing range of watches it’s Master Compressor Diving Chronograph is water resistant to 1000 metres.
If you are seeking a diver’s watch capable of depths greater than 100 metres, this latest incarnation of the Deep Sea line is not for you. However, you are missing the point if this is your sole desire.
This latest model is about the aesthetic appearance of a 1950’s inspired model. A watch which exudes style and sophistication.
Those who seek elegance and graceful lines will admire this watch.
The case and dial
The case is steel, larger than the original Memovox Deep Sea with a case diameter of 40.5mm.
A retro feature is the fitment of a Plexiglas watch glass.
The bezel is fixed, with “Tropic” coloured triangular markings at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock. Roman numerals in silver coloured text feature on the hours in between.
The application of the numerals to the bezel helps preserve the clarity of the dial.
The dial is clean in its delivery, “Tropic” coloured indices mark the hours with one minute integers marked in white on the chapter ring. Look more closely and you will see that in between the aforementioned minute integers are smaller grey markings representing 15 second intervals.
Two subdials feature on the dial for measuring hours and minutes when the chronograph function is deployed. White hands, numerals and indices make interpretation clean.
The hour and minute hands on the watch share the same “Tropic” hue as the details on the dial and bezel previously indicated. This colour affords the watch a nostalgic feel, not kitsch, but faithful to the appearance of the luminous material used back in the 1950’s. The Superluminova® used now is much preferable to some luminous materials used in bygone times which were radioactive and presented a risk to workers in watch factories.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre name is presented below 12 o’clock in full. Some 1950’s models did not carry the name in full in US markets. However, Jaeger-LeCoultre can proudly proclaim it’s name in full these days and rightly so. They have much to feel proud about.
Jaeger-LeCoultre have the largest collection of in-house manufacture movements within its repertoire.
Their movements are renowned for reliability but also the high level of finishing.
The calibre 751G is self-winding, operating at a frequency of 28,800 vph with a power reserve of 65 hours. The beauty of the movement is that it is crafted, assembled and decorated by hand.
The sad thing is that the solid case back, faithful to the original 1959 model, does not allow the wearer to admire the movement via a sapphire caseback. I accept that purists will appreciate the engraved motif of the frogman on the solid back fitted, but Jaeger-LeCoultre movements are special and the artisan’s craftsmanship should be admired.
I often pick up my Reverso Grand Date, loupe in hand and admire the Côte de Genève on the bridges, the blued screws, rubies and perlage. It is the quality of a Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre which adds to the ownership experience and it is a joy to behold.
The beauty of former models should not be confined to museums or watch collector’s safety deposit boxes, they should be enjoyed by future generations.
Jaeger-LeCoultre have provided a new generation of watch collectors opportunity to enjoy the horological architecture of yesteryear’s timepieces with the benefit of modern day reliability and enhancements.
I often admire watches of the yesteryear but cannot come to terms with dust, pattina or scratches. My obsessive compulsive disorder demands a factory fresh appearance and Jaeger-LeCoultre have met this need admirably with this model.
If you are seeking a diver’s watch which is water resistant a mile under the ocean’s surface, then this is not the watch for you. Those needing to work at these depths will have to accept they will be unable to find a watch that shares the lithe lines and the flowing forms of this case.
Like the majority of the population I will seldom dive in oceans deep and this timepiece would meet my needs admirably.
A design classic has just been improved and the absence of the alarm does not detract from this eloquent expression of good taste.
- Model: Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph
- Reference: Q207857J
- Case: stainless steel; 40.50 mm diameter; plexiglass watch glass; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres).
- Functions: Hours; minutes; date; Chronograph (hours, minutes and central sweep seconds).
- Calibre: Self-winding; Frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); power reserve 65 hours; 37 jewels; 235 parts.
- Calibre Reference: Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 751G
- Strap: Black leather strap with steel pin buckle