There aren’t many brands making alarm watches. In addition to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, there are the Vulcain Cricket and Tudor Advisor. The pioneer was Vulcain, which launched the Cricket in 1947, and the Memovox arrived in 1951. In 1956, Jaeger-LeCoultre gave Memovox an automatic movement, Calibre 815, making it the first automatic alarm watch. This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre is celebrating this anniversary with a new version, the Master Memovox Boutique Edition.
The design of the new Memovox is based on a 1971 version, the Memovox Snowdrop, which had a blue-grey dial and petal-like motifs around the outer section of the dial. The new piece retains the blue theme and the basic features of the classic watch, with modern styling. The stainless steel case is 40 mm in diameter and 14 mm thick, with a solid caseback, decorated with the Master Control logo (a reference to the Jaeger-LeCoultre 1,000-hour test protocol). Water resistance is 5 bar/50 metres (no swimming or showering). The strap is in Trieste black calfskin with blue stitching.
The rotating disc that forms the inner part of the dial has a sunray finish with a triangle that marks the alarm time. The hour markers are triple-faceted, with the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo at 12 o’clock. The hands, hour markers and triangular alarm time indicator are coated with luminescent paint.
Inside, the self-winding Calibre 956 movement runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and provides 45 hours power reserve. Using the alarm function is very simple. The alarm ring mechanism has a separate mainspring and it is hand-wound, performed by winding the crown at 2 o’clock. To set the alarm, pull out this crown and rotate counter-clockwise, and the arrow on the dial moves counter-clockwise. If you turn the crown clockwise, the date changes. This is a curiously illogical feature of this movement, and it’s all too easy to inadvertently change the date instead of adjusting the alarm time. You can set the alarm to any time up to 12 hours ahead, to an accuracy of a few minutes: the triangle is read off a scale with 15-minute divisions. There is no on-off switch for the alarm: if you want to deactivate it, you have to reset the alarm time to the current time, push the crown back in and wait while the alarm rings. The sound itself, like that of the Vulcain Cricket, is a sort of metallic buzz, not very loud, but enough to wake you up or remind you of your appointment. It lasts from about ten to twenty seconds.
Price and reference
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Boutique Edition, reference Q141848J, is a limited edition of 500 pieces, available exclusively at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques. Price €11,000, $11,700.