LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris 1965 – superb dial and an interesting detail

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I have been fortune to see quite many original E 859 Memovox Polaris live – both Jaeger-LeCoultre and LeCoultre, both with the 1965 dial and the 1968* dial.

In my collection since many years are the LeCoultre 1965 version and the Jaeger-LeCoultre 1968* version – both with what I would consider to be exceptional good dials.

So it is safe to say that it is not often I “loose my cool” by seeing a vintage Polaris…

But when I saw this LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris with the 1965 dial version at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Heritage Gallery earlier this year – I lost it!

Heritage Gallery – LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris

As already stated in my Rule #Condition – condition is king!

The dial is in perfect condition – the gilt text, lume nicely aged, case lightly polished – all bevels and lines are still intact.

But the big wow-factor for me is the crystal!

It is hard to see in photos, but this crystal have a smooth dome shape on the outside and a built in magnifying effect.

In this (poor) profile shot you can see the smooth domed shape of the crystal.

Heritage Gallery – LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris

It was explained to me that this is the original crystal and that the one I have, is a service crystal.

Both of my E 859 Polaris have the same service crystal – which have a more chimney shape with much sharper corners on the dome.

This crystal also looks a bit thicker, more robust.

Mine – LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris

Now, one have to take into account that service were translated between Italian-French-English-Swedish… So there might have been some “lost in translation”…

What made me very surprised to see this kind of crystal on a E 859 is because the larger part of all E 859 I saw had the same crystal as my pair, the rest had either a over polished-, scratched- or damaged out of recognition crystal – and never with such pronounced magnifying effect.

From what I can recall – this is a very first!

I have even seen true NOS watches ,watches never worn, circulated in the market or serviced – with the same crystal as my pair…

I didn’t make the connection during the visit, but believe me, this has been on my mind for quite a bit since…

Thinking about it, I recall seeing this smooth domed type of crystal with the magnifying effect on Longines Diver, Universal Geneve Polerouter Sub and possible other 1960’s divers watches with similar 42 mm cases made by EPSA. In theory, most of these divers should have crystals which are interchangeable.

Here is a comparison shot of the T.W.O types – Heritage Gallery to the left, mine to the right:

Heritage Gallery to the left, mine to the right – LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris

As you can see, the Heritage Gallery Polaris have a magnifying effect on the crystal – making the dial look bigger and at the same time making the bezel look thinner, while the distortion of my crystal is more evident due to the sharper edge.

Looking at photos of E 859 Memovox Polaris on the Internet – it may be hard to see in photos, but most of pictures found have the chimney like crystal. I only found a handful shots which looks like the crystal of the Heritage Gallery.

Just to point out, I would not mind if my pair would have service crystals – I would not love them any less and I have no plans to part with any of them, but I find it very odd I never made an observation of this before.

So what do the Longines and the Universal Geneve have in common except being similar divers watches with same size cases from the same case manufacture?

They are both earlier than the Polaris. First prototypes of the Polaris were made in 1963, a few years later than the release of the Longines (1960) and the Universal Geneve (1961).

Looking at a watch model closer in years to the Polaris – the second generation Vulcain Nautical Cricket from 1966 have a crystal more similar to the chimney crystal than the domed… (First generation of the Vulcain Nautical Cricket 1960).

My interpretation of this is that the crystals used for the Polaris are not of the same type as used by the Longines and Universal Geneve.

More likely would be that in the beginning of the Polaris production, crystals with magnifying effect were used, later to be changed to crystals with chimney shape.

I forgot to ask, but it could be that the Heritage Gallery Polaris is a very early version or even a prototype – which could explain the different crystals.

I was also told that this was the only Polaris of the Heritage Gallery with this kind of magnifying effect crystal. One out of how many, I do not know…

The Heritage Gallery E 859 – a marvel!

Heritage Gallery – LeCoultre E 859 Memovox Polaris

A big thank you to Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Heritage Gallery for letting me see this beauty and making me aware of this detail!

Even if the crystal is transparent, it plays a big part of the character of a watch!

My take on this is still in a very early stage, any factual input on this subject would be most appreciated received! Please use the contact form if you have any input on this matter to share.

1968* For you who haven’t read my thoughts on the 1968 dial version – click here.

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