Long gone are the days of identically dressed actors showing up to an awards ceremony in black tie with simple, time-only dress watches strapped to their wrists. In 2024, pretty much anything goes timepiece-wise on the red carpet—and Robert Downey Jr. took full advantage with a a left-of-center watch at the Governors Awards on Tuesday night.
Doled out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Governors Awards are given for lifetime achievements in film ahead of the Oscars each year. At the ceremony, RDJ stepped out in a sharp gray tuxedo with a Polaris Chronograph from Jaeger-LeCoultre. Freshly rejiggered for 2024, the Polaris Chronograph is a 42mm tool watch available in blue or gray and cased in stainless steel. It doesn’t look quite like a Speedy, it doesn’t look quite like a Daytona, and it doesn’t look quite like a Carrera—making it an excellent option for someone who wants a high-end, mechanical chronograph, but doesn’t want to be mistaken for everyone else walking down Madison Avenue. (Or through Hollywood.)
If the Polaris looks familiar to you, it might be because the name has long featured in the JLC catalog: The Polaris of the late 1960s was a dive watch with a mechanical alarm function (à la the brand’s Memovox), but its complicated nature, large size, handsome design, and relative rarity make it a hot commodity on the vintage market, with examples in good condition selling for tens of thousands. The Polaris Chronograph, on the other hand, is a thoroughly modern creation in the spirit of the original Polaris, but with a feature set that would excite any watch guy worth his salt. (Read: in-house movement with 65 hours of power reserve and column wheel activation; 100m of water resistance; bright SuperLumiNova lume; excellent bracelet or textile strap.)
In other words: It feels exactly like the kind of watch Iron Man would wear with a tuxedo. As a noted Jaeger-LeCoultre collector, Downey Jr.’s been spotted in all manner of Reversos (including one at Sunday’s Golden Globes), Geophysics, Amvoxes, and more. But there’s something about the simple utility of the Polaris Chronograph that works particularly well with his character—and characters—and manages to look great with the right tuxedo. (It even looks like he wore it on the included blue rubber strap rather than the bracelet—power move.)
A Polaris Chronograph will set you back $14,300 on a textile strap or $14,800 on steel—but if you don’t have Marvel money, you could always go for the Polaris Date ($10,000), a vintage-inspired model from the same family. Meanwhile, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph ref. IW378002 ($8,700) also offers 100m of water resistance, while the Tudor Black Bay Chrono ($5,550) ships on a bracelet but is good down to 200m. Whichever you spring for, just remember that wearing one does not guarantee that you can keep pace with an F-22 Raptor while flying a cave-made suit of body armor over Afghanistan.
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