It is said that the use of fire by humans by definition separates us from base animals. However, one could argue that our ability to track time via the celestial bodies in our skies gave us the quintessential ability to master our terrestrial domain, eventually forming civilisations.
First came days, divided into periods of light and darkness and determined by one complete rotation of Earth on its axis. Later came years, defined by the time it takes for the Sun to return to the same position in the sky, completing a full cycle of seasons. Ancient civilisations defined a year as the time it takes for the Sun to return to the same position in the sky, completing a full cycle of seasons. This solar (or “tropical”) year lasted approximately 365.2425 days – and led to the creation of the first calendars and clock-makers began measuring time by using the units of standard if approximate civil time, based on the average values of astronomical cycles.
For our shelves: Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Hybris Mechanica
In 2022, Jaeger-LeCoultre follows in the footsteps of early tellurium, a three-dimensional mechanical mobile illustrating the relative positions and movements of Earth and the Moon in relation to the Sun, today rendered in their signature Atmos – an unique perpetual clock that runs on “air” – or rather the expansion of it depending on varying atmospheric temperatures: a variation of just one degree Celsius provides sufficient energy to wind it for 48 hours, enabling it to run without intervention.
With the balance taking one minute to perform a complete oscillation, it consumes little energy but what makes this yet another demonstration of Jaeger LeCoultre’s prowess is how its watchmakers have mastered the challenge of adding functions to the mechanism without substantially increasing energy consumption. Driven by the new Calibre 590, the magnificent Atmos Hybris Mechanica reproduces the rotation of Earth on its own axis, and the orbits of the Moon around Earth and Earth around the Sun, while indicating corresponding months and seasons with a zodiacal calendar. Such is the precision of the watchmaker of watchmakers that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Hybris Mechanica succeeded in establishing a cycle of 365.2466 days, so close the reference value of 365.2425 days found in the Gregorian calendar that it varies by only one day in 390 years, meaning that it will not need adjusting until the year 2412. The only other adjustment the clock ever needs is the seasonal change from Summer Time to Standard Time.
For the wrist: Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar
Translating the spirit of the celebrated 1968 Memovox Polaris into the contemporary Polaris, the maison continues its legacy for functional tool watches and for the first time, adds one of horology’s most complex, useful and prized complications: A perpetual calendar.
Powered by the in-house Calibre 868AA, an update of the beloved movement which drives Dr. Strange’s own Master Ultra Perpetual calendar, the newly developed calibre provides a display of the moon phases in both hemispheres, as well as an extended power reserve of 70 hours. Like the ‘tellurium’, the complexity of the calendar, with its leap years and different number of days in the months, lies in an anomaly between the way we measure civil time and the celestial phenomena on which those measurements are based. Hence, a perpetual calendar is among the most challenging complications because it must compensate for these quirks and automatically adjust for months of different lengths and even for leap years. Supplementing the calendar indications, the rotating inner bezel – a Polaris signature – offers the practical function of measuring elapsed time.
Lacquered in a deep gradient-blue colour, the dial of the 42mm Polaris Perpetual Calendar takes its aesthetic cues from the Polaris Mariner Memovox joined with the functional raison d’être of one of the most genteel of high complications, contrast against the utmost functionality of a utilitarian tool watch. Every good dive watch should demonstrate an emphasis on balance and legibility, the Polaris Perpetual Calendar is no different, with calendar indications displayed in three sub-dials. The date, month and day indicators are at 9, 12 and 3 o’clock respectively, with the year displayed within the month indicator.
Like bubbles suspended in water, each of the four sub-dials is slightly recessed and finished in different textures, adding visual richness as the light plays across the dial, further accented by an eye-catching mix of brushed and polished surfaces all set beneath a boxed sapphire crystal. The moon phases are displayed at 6 o’clock – with a retrograde display for the Southern Hemisphere framing a classical display for its Northern counterpart, addressing a common criticism that Euro-centric watchmakers don’t develop complications with Southeast Asia in mind.
At the centre of the dial, a small security zone indicator shows red between the hours of 20:00 and 04:00 to warn the user not to adjust the time or calendar indications during inopportune moments while skeletonised hands allow greater visibility of the indications matched with bold trapezoid indexes in marked contrast to refined calendar displays. Luminescent coating on hands and indexes further enhances legibility in all light conditions – an essential attribute for a superlative sport watch.
Two crowns, one operating the inner rotating diving bezel and the lower crown for setting the time and winding the watch, are a nod to another Polaris feature. Meanwhile, Calendar settings are adjusted via a single pusher. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar, like its Atmos cousin is a blend of tradition and modernity.
Atmos Hybris Mechanica: EUR 500,000
Jaeger LeCoultre Polaris Perpetual Calendar Price & Specs
Case 42mm stainless steel or pink gold with 100 metres water resistance
Movement Automatic Calibre 868AA with 70 hours power reserve