WATCHES: IN SEARCH OF THE COOLEST TRAVEL WATCH

PART 3.  JAEGER LECOULTRE MASTER DIVER NAVY SEALS

 Very useful before taking the plunge, the two patented compression crowns have a visual warning to let you know if they aren't sealed.

Very useful before taking the plunge, the two patented compression crowns have a visual warning to let you know if they aren't sealed.

Released in a limited edition of 1500 examples with a 44mm titanium case, the Jaeger LeCoultre diving alarm, apparently designed in collaboration with the US Navy SEAL’s, has all the requirements of a great travel watch. It’s light, understated, automatic with a date, features the essential rotating bezel with time-elapse and has the additional benefit of an alarm. An alarm when travelling personally I find important, sure you can use your phone but often there isn’t any power to charge it and there are always, without fail, those early mornings you need to wake to catch a flight, drive or simply watch the sunrise.  Similarly, as previously mentioned, a rotating bezel calibrated to 60 minutes (or a chronograph) allows you to time your dive or how long you've been out sailing or kayaking for.

 The uni-directional rotatable bezel calibrated to 60 minutes is designed for diving under water, but also useful when timing odd things, like how long you have been on the water.

The uni-directional rotatable bezel calibrated to 60 minutes is designed for diving under water, but also useful when timing odd things, like how long you have been on the water.

At 44mm it isn’t a small watch and I can see why they made it 42mm for later versions (without alarm) but that said it doesn’t get in the way and I didn’t mind the size once used to it. The build quality is very good, as you would expect from Jaeger, however that said the bezel feels a little ‘flimsy’, like it could come off in my hand at any time and the bezel insert is just stuck on with glue. As the insert rises above the metal housing it sits on, it isn’t difficult, as I discovered, to knock it off. Hopefully Jaeger has a large supply of spare bezel inserts for this model as I can see many owners needing one. 

 This would be a bad time to lose the bezel insert.

This would be a bad time to lose the bezel insert.

The patented compression crowns, although perhaps a little bulky, are brilliant. They twist closed quickly and with a visual white/red indicator to tell you if they are locked or not it’s easy to check before jumping in the water. The one major complaint I had with the watch was the date/alarm setting, as they are both set from the same crown, the date in one direction and the alarm in the other, it’s easy, too easy, to move the crown the wrong way and change the date when you are setting the alarm. The watch does have a little indicator with correct direction but when you are bumping along the road in an open truck and informed departure the following day is 0500, my first reaction is to set my alarm before I forget, a quick twist gets me to alarm setting mode but then one wrong turn and I change the date, I then have to revolve through 30 days of the calendar to reset it again before setting the alarm. Maybe it’s just me but this happened a lot and a few times I was unaware I had changed the date forward, potentially disastrous when traveling.

 This picture shows the red arrows indicating, when visible from the dial view, the crowns aren't locked. Note the tiny writing on the upper crown to show which direction to turn the crown for date/alarm setting.

This picture shows the red arrows indicating, when visible from the dial view, the crowns aren't locked. Note the tiny writing on the upper crown to show which direction to turn the crown for date/alarm setting.

PROS

·      Lightweight, understated well proportioned layout

·      Model has an almost vintage look with a grey bezel

·      Reliable automatic (Cal.956) movement with date

·      Mechanical alarm is audible enough to wake you up, even at 3am after a few beers

·      Large luminous hands and markers are easy to see at night

·      Factory supplied easily changeable straps give you plenty of options

CONS

·      The date and alarm set from the same crown, too easy to change the date by mistake

·      Jaeger LeCoultre signature is on the same disc as the alarm indicator so can look a little ‘odd’ as the logo rotates depending on when you set the alarm

·      Bezel feels flimsy and insert is only secured by glue (!?) making it far too easy to knock off

·      44mm case can seem a little large

 The watch looks as good on land as it does in the water, shown here with factory supplied NATO strap.

The watch looks as good on land as it does in the water, shown here with factory supplied NATO strap.

The Jaeger LeCoultre diving alarm Navy SEAL’s is a great travel watch, possibly the best so far. I’m sure with time I would manage not to change the date every time I set the alarm and really love the understated titanium case and almost vintage look the bezel provides. The bezel, or sometimes lack of, is a big concern; I was lucky enough to find my insert undamaged in the car but might not be next time. Still, it has a really different and very cool look about it, almost, if there is such a term, ‘understated luxury’; a bit like a matt-black Aston Martin. I can honestly imagine someone in the US military wearing this watch and former US President Bill Clinton has been spotted with one.