By Nancy Olson
A perpetual calendar is among the most challenging—and the most coveted—complications. By definition, it automatically adjusts for the different durations of months and even leap years. Thus it always shows the correct date, at least for the somewhat distant future, while a “normal” date display needs periodic adjustment. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Polaris Perpetual Calendar — unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 — will need no manual fiddling until 2100, which is, when you really think about it, a quite-incredible feat of watchmaking.
The watch is a true Polaris-inspired beauty, with a deep-blue lacquer gradient dial that suggests the transition from day to night, according to the brand, while also acting as a handsome reminder of the interplay between celestial phenomena and time measurement. The calendar indications are displayed in three subdials, with the date, month and day indications at 9, 12 and 3 o’clock respectively; the year is shown within the month indicator. The phases of the moon are at 6 o’clock, with a retrograde display for the Southern Hemisphere within the classic display for the Northern Hemisphere. And while there’s a lot going on here, the dial is well designed and maintains an elegant quadrant-like balance that makes it easy to read and decipher all the relevant information available.
The four subdials are slightly recessed and beautifully textured, adding further interest to an already interesting dial. Skeletonized luminescent-coated hands offer a glimpse of the indications below, while trapezoid-shaped luminescent-coated indexes mark the hours. A small indicator at the dial’s center shows red between the hours of 20:00 and 4:00, warning the user to refrain from adjusting the time or calendar during these hours.
The Polaris Perpetual Calendar is fitted with the automatic Caliber 868AA, a new version of the perpetual calendar movement that Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced in 2013. This update includes notable modifications, one being the retrograde display of the Southern Hemisphere moon phases. The power reserve has also been increased to 70 hours. A quick rundown of its functions looks like this: hours, minutes, seconds, perpetual calendar with moon phases in two hemispheres, red security zone, inner rotating bezel.
The 42mm watch is available in steel or pink gold, and its sapphire crystal case back and open-worked pink gold rotor offer a view of the movement and its finely decorated components. There are two ratcheted crowns, one at 2 o’clock and one at 4 o’clock: the top crown rotates the inner bezel, while the lower one is for setting the time and winding the watch. Calendar settings are adjusted via a single pusher. Both models are water resistant to 100m.
The steel variation comes with a three-link steel bracelet and a textured rubber strap. The pink gold model is featured with a blue rubber strap and an alligator leather strap with a folding buckle. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s newly developed interchangeable strap system makes swapping them out quite easy. It is operated by simply pressing on the pushers at the attachment point between the lugs.