Slideshow= 16 photos to see this watch from every angle
+ a video to see (and hear) the alarm at work!
The reissue of older models, while very popular lately in the watchmaking world, can be a tricky thing, especially when it is attempted with a watch as iconic as the Deep Sea.
Let's go back in time for a moment.
Scuba diving with oxygen tanks made its first appearance in the 50's and the watchmaking industry followed suit with this new trend by creating the first deep-sea diving watches.
No technical standards existed at the time, and all the current innovations that we know had yet to be invented.
It is in this context that Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Memovox Deep Sea in 1959.
It had the innovative characteristic of an alarm system that would alert the diver when the oxygen level was dangerously low, and it became necessary to go back up to the surface.
Approximately 1,000 copies were made until 1962.
Jaeger-LeCoultre continued its foray into the world of diving watches a few years later with the release of its Polaris model, another monumental achievement in its genre.
After the Polaris, which was itself reissued in 2008, the Deep Sea has now also been reissued with two limited series models: a European version limited to 959 copies, in homage to the "1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre Classic", and 359 copies of the American version, paying homage to the "LeCoultre Spécial Amérique 1959", the same model we tested for you.
A reissue that is very faithful to the original
The designers of this reissue were guided by a general concern to stay faithful to the original model.
The dimensions of the case are perfectly replicated to the nearest millimeter, and the materials, along with the dial composition, or the plexiglass, are fully in compliance with the overall spirit of the 1959 model.
Unlike its European counterpart, the US version has the unique characteristic of having the LeCoultre initials on it.
The grainy and mat finish of the dial, along with the alternating colors, give it a very sporty look.
The dial's inscriptions and markers are white, while the triangular markers on the bezel, the alarm indicator, and even the hands, have this fake oxidized eggshell color.
The result is a vintage visual effect that adds great charm to this reissue, and will appeal to the collectors.
A beautiful finish
There are no complaints on the legibility side of things: it is simply excellent, day or night, thanks to the use of highly reflective SuperLumiNova for the triangular markers as well as the hours and minutes hands.
The case itself is magnificently executed.
The alternating of the finishing details, between the brushed and polished parts, is very successfully done.
They help "stretch" the lines of the case to give this 14 mm-thick Deep Sea a thin and elegant look.
The fixed bezel which is integrated with the case, and divided hourly, is a testimony to a time when the standards for deep-sea diving watches were not yet defined.
In that same spirit, the plexiglass was preserved for the sake of accuracy and consistency. Yet another detail which will delight the enthusiasts!
Besides, the use of a plexiglass also allows for a bright light distribution inside the dial.
The back of the watch is elegantly executed, and with the engraving of a diver armed with a harpoon, it is also esthetically designed in accordance with the diving watches of that era, along with the usual characteristics (water resistant sealing, criteria, and logo).
Finally, the leather strap, with its fake Tropic band look, is very flexible and thus particularly comfortable.
On the other hand, the pin buckle, while certainly faithful to the original, could have used more work.
You will likely have to switch to a rubber strap in order to enjoy your aquatic activities, since the strap was not treated to be resistant to salt water.
The only inconsistency with the overall vintage spirit of the watch is the caliber used, a Jaeger-LeCoultre 956, the latest version of Memovox calibers, which replaces the reverend 815 bumper caliber. Its main characteristics are a 45-hour power reserve, 28,800 alternations per hour, "1,000 Hours Control" and an alarm.
There is, however, one slight variation from the Master Memovox: the ring is not a sustained, crystalline tone, but a more old-fashioned one using a hammer at the bottom of the case, allowing for a more efficient circulation of the sound underwater (see and hear the video below).
The ring lasts about 15 seconds, but stays pleasant to the ear in the open air.
The alarm is set using the crown at two o'clock, and is quite precise thanks to its scaling.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has succeeded in the renewal of the Deep Sea, without straying from its original roots.
The result is a watch with a rare presence and charm, a testimony to an era and a reminder of the rich history of the Grande Maison in terms of underwater odysseys.
A beautiful achievement that will seduce more than one collector!
- faithful to the original model
- a watch that is both sporty and elegant
- incredibly charming
- a watch that is not up to par with the current standards of deep-sea diving
- the pin buckle
- a somewhat high price for a steel watch
- both versions of this Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute to Deep Sea should be available in retail stores around June 2011
- tester's wrist size = 17.5 cm
To see and hear the alarm at work (or go HERE if you cannot play the video):