Tropical E859 Lecoultre Memovox Polaris
If any watchmaker knowns how to make a fashionably late entrance, it’s la grande maison, JLC. Diving watches with their extreme water resistance and externally rotating bezel were all the rage by the second half of the 1950s. In 1959, Lecoultre entered the fray with a differentiating design. Instead of using a rotating bezel to read time, their divers included a mechanical alarm function to tell a diver when to head up. While this Rube Goldberg approach made its debut in the 1061 example Deep Sea Alarm ref E857, it became a true dive watch with its successor in 1963: this 200-meter E859 Polaris.
This depth rating and 41mm case made the Polaris quite a hit with professionals in era. The compressor-style case was manufactured by Piquerez developed a reputation for its reliably waterproof construction. The dial was altered to be vastly more legible with huge tritium plots. Its K825 movement was carried over from the Deep Sea Alarm but now included a date. Perhaps most interestingly, JLC patented a unique slotted case back to allow the alarm sound to penetrate further underwater. Moreover, its internal bezel was now rotatable, something which the Deep Sea’s curiously was not. Hence, there were now three quadrille-finished crowns flanking its side (time, alarm, and bezel). Most scholars who study the Polaris agree that just 1714 examples have ever been produced (not including the fifty prototypes).
This example has a full case with sharp bevels. Its crowns are correct for the series. The dial has gone a fantastic light tropical tone, something more 95% chocolate than a caramel tone. The large tritium plots are golden and entirely un-degraded, quite impressive for its age. The case back engravings are correct and the calibre appears in great condition. It comes from a well-regarded Monegasque retailer.
Find this E859 Polaris here from Corrado Mattarelli for 38500 EUR.