The alarm could possibly be the oldest watch complication. Some of the earliest clocks used in monasteries didn’t have hands at all, but just a striking mechanism to mark the time for prayers. Today, it is one of the loneliest watch categories. If you’re interested in an alarm watch, you have a limited choice. The selection below is in ascending price order. This article was first published on 31 December 2016, and updated on 16 February 2018.
1. Tudor Heritage Advisor Cognac
New for 2016 is the colour, a sort of reddish brown described as cognac. The Tudor Heritage Advisor Cognac is a version of Tudor’s alarm watch introduced in 1957: today the case, in titanium and steel with differentiated polished and satin finish, is 42 mm in diameter, has a solid caseback, water-resistance 100 metres. Titanium is used for two reasons: it helps keep the weight of the watch down, and it improves the volume of the alarm. The dial has silvered hour, minute and seconds hands, a subdial for the date, a red hand for the alarm time, a window showing whether the alarm is on or off, and another circular window showing the alarm function power reserve. The crown at 4 o’clock is for manual winding, date setting and time setting. The crown at 2 o’clock, bearing the word “Advisor,” also has three positions, neutral when closed, then alarm winding, and alarm time-setting. A pusher at 4 o’clock activates or deactivates the alarm system, as shown in the window at 9 o’clock. The alarm module has a separate mainspring that provides enough power for a 10-second ring. The watch is powered by the automatic ETA calibre 2892, with an additional module made in-house by Tudor for the alarm function. Power reserve is 42 hours. The watch is available with a steel bracelet or an alligator strap. An extra black silk strap is also provided, edged in satin. Its reference is 79620TC, price €5,800. Read more here, or visit the Tudor website.
2. Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Cricket
Vulcain’s Cricket watch with alarm function first appeared in 1947, and it has remained the brand’s most iconic model. This year, Vulcain has introduced a new manufacture movement, the V-40, with several new versions of the Cricket. Power reserve has been increased from 40 to 52 hours. There is an alarm subdial at 4 o’clock, and continuous seconds subdial at 8 o’clock (up until now, Cricket watches had four hands all at the centre). The movement has 162 components and 24 jewels, and a double barrel, one for the time functions, and one for the alarm. The winding system is differentiated so that winding the crown upwards (clockwise) winds the movement, and winding downwards (anti-clockwise) winds the alarm. Part of the movement can be seen through the sapphire caseback, along with the Vulcain V motif that gives the watch’s caseback a very 1950s look. The watch is available in several versions, two with classic smooth dial, and two with clous-de-Paris texture in the central section of the dial and sunray brushing at the edge. The case is in 316L steel, 42 mm in diameter, 12.4 mm thick, with a 55 bar water resistance. The alarm is not excessively loud, but enough to wake you up. It continues for 20 seconds or until you press the pusher at 2 o’clock. The strap is in matt black or golden brown Louisiana alligator, with a steel pin buckle. The alarm subdial is a 12-hour dial and so you can only set the alarm within the next 12 hours. The 2016 versions of the Presidents’ Cricket cost 5,950 Swiss francs. Read more here, or visit the Vulcain website.
3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Boutique Edition
In 1956, Jaeger-LeCoultre gave its Memovox an automatic movement, Calibre 815, making it the first automatic alarm watch. In 2016, Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrated 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. 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 using 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. 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. Read more here, or visit the Jaeger-LeCoultre website.
4. Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox
The new Polaris Memovox is visually based on the 1968 Memovox Polaris reference E859, an exceptional diving watch with an alarm designed to be heard underwater. It shares the triple crown and the overall layout of the E859, but with a more contemporary balance, with larger numerals and smaller hour marker batons. It’s fairly large at 42 mm, and above all it’s thick, 15.9 mm, due in part to the caseback that incorporates the sound-diffusion equipment. The top crown is used to adjust the alarm time, displayed on the inner part of the dial with the small triangle, which rotates and is read with reference to the adjacent scale, while the bottom crown manoeuvres the inner rotating bezel. The characteristics of the new Polaris collection are more of general-purpose sports watches than of specifically diving watches. Nonetheless the Polaris Memovox has a water resistance of 20 bar, 200 metres. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox is reference 9038670, and it costs €13,100 (VAT included).
5. Zenith Heritage Icons Doublematic
This watch, introduced in 2012, is a complex piece that combines a chronograph, a world timer function and an alarm. The Doublematic has a 45 mm case in steel or rose gold, 15.6 mm thick, with 50 metres water resistance. The two pushers on the right-hand side operate the chronograph, read using the central seconds hand and the 30-minute subdial at 3 o’clock. The crown at 10 o’clock adjusts the city ring, providing the time in all the principal time zones of the world by means of the 24-hour disc just inside. The 24-hour disc also acts as a day-night indicator. The crown at 8 o’clock is used to wind the spring for the alarm function, and to set the alarm time indicated by the red-tipped alarm hand. The alarm function can be switched on or off using a pusher in the 8 o’clock crown, and the status is shown in a small window next to the 8’oclock numeral. The alarm power reserve is shown to the right of this. The movement is Zenith’s El Primero chronograph movement running at 36,000 vibrations per hour (5 Hertz), with 50 hours power reserve. The movement with its 439 components can be seen through the sapphire caseback. The steel version is reference 03.2400.4046/21.C721, and it costs about $13,200. The watch in its pink gold version is reference 18.2400.4046/01.C721, and it costs about $28,000. More on the Zenith website.
6. Blancpain Léman Reveil GMT
Dual time zone and alarm are two functions that are useful for travellers, and Blancpain combine them in their Léman series of watches dating back to 2005, with case in steel or pink gold. It is 40 mm in diameter and 13.3 mm thick, with a dial that has the alarm power reserve indicator at the top left-hand side of the dial, a smaller indicator at 1 o’clock that shows whether the alarm function is switched on or off, a subdial for the alarm time at 3 o’clock, and continuous seconds at 6 o’clock. The hour and minute hands are skeletonized to increase visibility of the second time zone subdial. A long slender hand provides the time in a second time zone on a 24-hour scale. The watch is powered by the Blancpain calibre 1241, with 407 components. It is automatic, and the winding system winds both the movement and the alarm spring. The steel version, reference 2841-36B30-64B, costs about $21,900; the pink gold version is reference 2841-36B30-64B and it costs $37,000. Read more on the Blancpain website.
7. Hublot Big Bang Alarm Repeater
This piece is powered by the HUB 5003 movement, which is made by Chronode SA, a company in La Locle, based on their calibre 501. It has been extensively personalized for Hublot, and seen through the caseback it is an interesting sight. It’s an unusual watch from the front too, with an asymmetric dial design that recalls Harry Winston. The 45.5 mm case is the 2013-version Big Bang, with the six H-screws on the bezel. Time is shown on the largest display, and there is a day-night indicator at one o’clock. At 11 o’clock there is a subdial showing the second time zone, and the alarm time is displayed on the 24-hour subdial at the bottom right of the dial. At the bottom, there is an indicator showing whether the alarm function is activated or not, and to the left of this, you can see the hammer which has stripes of SuperLuminova so that you see this in the dark, in addition to the time indications. When the alarm goes off, the hammer strikes the gong repeatedly for about 16 seconds. The watch maintains the chronograph pusher arrangement, though the functions are of course different. The pusher at 2 o’clock adjusts the time of the second time zone (each push advances the time by an hour), and that at 4 o’clock activates or deactivates the alarm. The movement is hand-wound, with 356 components, and 72 hours power reserve. There are two barrels, one for the movement, and one for the chiming system. The watch is available in two versions, a 250-piece limited edition in titanium ceramic (reference 403.NM.0123.RX), and another 250 piece limited edition in King Gold ceramic (reference 406.OM.0123.RX). The titanium version costs 49,000 Swiss francs (about €45,200), the King gold version costs 65,000 Swiss francs (about €60,000). Read more here, or visit the Hublot website.
Lastly, Russian brand Poljot make this “Flagman” hand-wound watch with alarm function, in a chrome-plated 38 mm case. It has a rotating bezel. The crown at 2 o’clock is for winding the alarm mechanism and setting the alarm time shown by the red-tipped hand, that at 4 o’clock is for winding the mainspring and setting the time. The watch costs €245, and, judging by the minimal quality visible in the photos, you’re paying for what you get. It is available from https://www.poljot-watches24.com