How Benedict Cumberbatch Learned to Freedive for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s New Short Film

Paige Reddinger
·4 mins read

As an actor, Benedict Cumberbatch is no stranger to finding himself in uncharted territory, but when the Jaeger-LeCoultre brand ambassador went to Rakino Island, New Zealand to film with the brand for their new Polaris Memovox watches he found himself a little bit out of his depth.

“I think there was something lost in translation when I said [to Jaeger-LeCoultre] that I love diving and want to do something in nature. I was thinking scuba diving, which I have done a bit of,” said Cumberbatch at a conference for select international press last month. What he didn’t expect to find himself doing was freediving. Despite being an avid meditation enthusiast and practicer of the Win Hof breathing method, prior to the experience, Cumberbatch said the closest he had gotten to free diving was holding his breath in a pool, while an Italian friend of his, who is a fan of the sport, recounted stories about freediving in the open ocean.

“Even with all the noise of making a film, the calm you see me in and the breathing where I’m beginning to get into the state of lung capacity with oxygen going to the blood and the stuff in the water was real,” said Cumberbatch. “It was very easy to go into that bubble, which is very important to do as an actor as well—to be able to just switch off and focus on the present. So, I think I’m going to keep doing it.”

Strapped to his wrist in the new film, In a Breath, is the 42 mm x 15.63 Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox ($17,000) and the 42 mm x 13.92 Polaris Mariner Date ($11,000). Both steel models debut today and will be available for purchase on Jaeger-LeCoultre starting tomorrow. It’s so slight for a diving watch,” said Cumberbatch. “I don’t have a huge wrist, but even if I did, I don’t like watches that scream out.”

The Swiss watchmaker’s Memovox models have a long history with diving dating back 70 years when its diver alarm calibers were created for military use. In 1959, the company began making the models for civilians when diving began to take hold as an everyman sport. The Memovox Polaris was introduced a decade later and featured an internal rotating bezel, alarm and a triple-layer caseback for better sound in the deep. The latest models, equipped to handle depths up to 300 meters, now come with sapphire crystal casebacks for a full view of the calibre 956on the Mariner Memovox AC, and the calibre 899 on the Polaris Mariner Date.

“I like the fact that you can see the mechanism through the glass on the back,” said Cumberbatch, who also added that the SuperLuminova on the hands, numerals and index markers proved useful during the shoot. “Even when we were chasing the light to get the film while we could, you could still read the hands very clearly with the luminosity,” said Cumberbatch. Jaeger-LeCoultre also used different colors of the luminous material to help divers distinguish between the hours and minutes in the dark, while the running seconds hand comes tipped in orange for daylight visibility.

Both watches are equipped with a screw-down crown that can set the notched inner bezel to avoid any accidental movement and it comes with an orange security band to warn users when it isn’t firmly secured. The dials feature three concentric circles with trapezoidal indexes and three Arabic numerals. The central discs are sunray-brushed, while an opaline finish has been applied to the outer ring.

The difference between the two models, beyond their thickness, is the Polaris Mariner Memovox comes with an alarm system, where the gongs can now be viewed in action through the caseback. The top crown controls the alarm, which turns the central disc of the dial so that the triangular pointer lines up with the desired time, while the central crown operates the inner dive bezel and the lowest crown sets the present time. The Mariner Date comes without the alarm function but features a running time indicator on the seconds hand with a unidirectional bezel and an instantly jumping date display. Its top crown operates the inner bezel, while the lower crown sets the time and date. The latter has a power reserve of up to 70 hours, while the Mariner Memovox taps out at 45 hours—a small price to pay if the alarm function rings your bells. But if leisurely, risk-averse sea excursions are more your thing, the Mariner Date should suffice for a serene dip in the ocean.

Now, take a deep breath and check your bank account.

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