Lot 842, Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Mariner “Deep Sea”. A fine and new-old-stock stainless steel diver’s wristwatch. Estimate HK$48,000 - 78,000
It must be said that the 60s and the 70s were an incredible period of creativity for the Swiss watch industry from the design standpoint, as it sought to differentiate itself from the quartz watches that were coming to market, particularly when it came to sports watches, as the world turned its attention to the themes of exploration and adventure. Functionality and durability became key, whether it be chronographs or diving watches, and the watchmakers stretched the limits and created watches that were unsurpassed for many years. Some of these designs have endured until today; you’d be hard-pressed to come across a watch enthusiast who is not familiar with the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph or the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. However, there are many more treasures to be found from that era, such as this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Mariner Deep Sea. It stands out as a vintage diver’s watch, and within the Jaeger-LeCoultre history, for its cushion-shaped case, giving it a distinctive profile. By today’s standard, it’s also smaller than your usual “tool watch”, with a diameter at 36.5mm, somewhat unusual even for its time, where these utilitarian timepieces were already starting to explore case sizes at 39mm and above. The inner rotating bezel also contributes to giving it a sleeker profile that belies its intended purpose as a diving watch.
Of particular interest in this piece is that it is virtually as-new, a rare find as many of these watches were worn as intended, and most of the pieces that come to auction have been restored or show significant signs of wear, and it is also rather rare, for less than 1,600 pieces were made during a four year production period. Although the Maison has today chosen to focus more on its other offering from that era, the Polaris, we would argue that Master Mariner is an important part of its history and deserves a closer look, perhaps with an eye towards a modern re-interpretation.