By Jason Heaton
on 5.11.12
Photo by JLC

Earlier this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced its retro-tastic Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph at the annual Salon International de Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. The watch made just about everyone’s “Best Of” list (including ours) with its creamy “aged” luminescent markers, textured dial and old-school pump-style chronograph pushers. The watch was homage to a watch JLC never produced but might as well have. Now, just a few months later, the brand is introducing a new variation of the Deep Sea and we think it’s even better.

The Deep Sea Chronograph, though it loses the “Vintage” in its name, still bears the ‘60s styling that harkens back to the brand’s first dive watch, the Memovox Deep Sea. But instead of the traditional two-register chrono layout and yellowed markers, this one feels a bit more modern while keeping the best of the past. The watch actually has the requisite chops to comply with the international standard for dive watches, ISO 6425, with its rotating elapsed-time bezel and 100 meter water resistance and the chronograph is even more usable thanks to the addition of the third register, an hour counter, which allows measurement up to 12 hours.

while the design of the Deep Sea Chronograph is pitch perfect at 42mm in brushed steel with the aforementioned pump pushers, with Jaeger-LeCoultre, the real magic lies in the movement

Look closely and you’ll also see a small aperture at the top of the dial, a handy little complication JLC has added that they call a “chronograph operating indicator.” It consists of red and white discs under the dial that, when displayed, tell the user whether the chronograph is started, running or stopped. Necessary? No. Cool? Yes. Sometimes a watch complication is all about what can be done rather than what has to be and this one is the latter, while still being useful.

Of course, while the design of the Deep Sea Chronograph is pitch perfect at 42mm in brushed steel with the aforementioned pump pushers, with Jaeger-LeCoultre, the real magic lies in the movement. The self-winding calibre 758, all 340 parts of which are fully developed and built by Jaeger-LeCoultre, has a spectacular power reserve of 65 hours, handy if you ever decide to take the watch off for a few days. JLC has a long and storied legacy of movement-making, having produced some of the world’s finest movements, even for the likes of Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Known not only for precision and durability, JLC also manages to make chronographs that are not too thick, so this one should be highly wearable, unlike so many other hockey puck dive chronographs out there.

Finishing off this great watch is a fine black leather strap that is fashioned to look like the perforated Tropic rubber straps that were standard equipment on dive watches of the 1960s. Lovely as it is, we recommend swapping it out for a rubber or nylon dive strap before this one gets anywhere close to the deep sea.

There’s no word yet on the price of the Deep Sea Chronograph but while it won’t be cheap, Jaeger-LeCoultre is usually affordable haute horlogerie and we expect this one to come in right around $10,000.

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