New for SIHH 2012 is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph, inspired by JLC's Memovox Deep Sea wristwatch - more "chronograph" than "deep sea" ... but don't let than put you off, it's very "vintage".
In the 1950's, deep sea diving was more a military than a recreational activity but a diver then had the same basic requirements as divers have today, in order to survive each dive - the ability to time his dive was vital ... so of course, a wristwatch made for divers had to be able to withstand the depths. No benchmarks or legal standards had been defined but a few pioneers developed life-saving inventions which remain features of modern-day divers watches. Doxa, one of our favourites produced unique unidirectional rotating bezels and along with Rolex developed a helium release valve to prevent horological implosion. Blancpain worked along with elite French Navy divers, bringing to market the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, still a strong part of their portfolio. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Deep Sea of 1959 also had a unique selling point - it had an alarm, a dependable little reminder of time elapsed underwater.
The Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph is essentially just a chronograph and not a deep sea divers watch, but it replicates the aesthetics of the 1959 Memovox superbly. You won't mind that its chunky bezel is fixed, you won't mind the fact that if you take it deeper than 100m it will desintegrate, you won't mind that it's not really a divers watch at all, you will forgive its inadequacies and choose it for its looks alone.
The steel case measures 40.5mm across with traditional plexiglass used in place of sapphire. On the matt black textured dial, the lume has a "patina" - a hint of orange just like the 1959 piece and on the back is an authentic engraving of a frogman surrounded by bubbles. All very retro, but skin deep is not the whole story, inside is the thoroughly modern automatic JLC Calibre 751G hand decorated movement with 65 hours of power reserve.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph comes presented on a tactile embossed black calfskin leather strap.