When it comes to chiming watches, most of us will immediately think about the ultra-complex and desirable minute repeater. And Jaeger-LeCoultre is no stranger to this complication. However, there are more than repeater watches to sound the time. A simpler, highly practical but rarely seen function is the alarm. Mastered by JLC for 70 years now, the alarm can be heard in the Memovox series of timepieces. Today, the brand introduces two new Memovox models, one permanent edition part of the new Master Control collection, and one limited edition with a novel ‘timer’ indication, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer.
The alarm function
Despite being one of the most useful (and charming) of all complications, the alarm remains surprisingly rare in horology. Few are the brands to integrate this chiming complication in its watches, and even fewer manufacture them in-house. An alarm watch is designed to ring a signal at a defined time. Everyone probably has cursed their alarm once, but few people can deny their usefulness. It is probably one of the oldest horological complications. The first alarm clocks were stationary. With the development of exchange and travel, these mechanisms were integrated in pocket watches from the 16th century. The first alarm wristwatch was patented in 1908 by Eterna, but success really spread after the creation in 1947 of the legendary Vulcain Cricket calibre, which truly raised the bar for such watches.
In the early 1950s, Jaeger-LeCoultre developed its own take on the alarm function, under the name Memovox – which will become one of the references in wristwatch alarms. Used in a business environment to remind you of a meeting, as well as a classic morning alarm to wake you up, the Memovox alarm function gained fame in the realm of divers. Marketed under the Polaris name, the alarm mechanism was audible underwater helping the diver monitor the ascent back to the surface, and was recently reissued in a very cool watch.
Entirely mechanical, this function can be set to ring at a precise time and produces a ‘school bell’ sound thanks to its hammer vibrating and knocking on a metallic surface.
The Limited Master Control Memovox Timer
Part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre tradition, the alarm function is brought back this year with two watches, the first being a handsome limited edition named Master Control Memovox Timer, which includes a new complication in addition to the alarm.
Housed in the newly designed Master Control case, presented earlier this year at the digital edition of Watches & Wonders, this version is made of satin-finished and polished stainless steel and measures a reasonable 40mm x 12.39mm. As part of the Memovox collection, it features the signature twin-crown, one to wind the movement and set the time, the second to actuate the alarm function.
This version replaces the slightly austere silvery-white dial of the Master Control collection with a two-tone blue dial, combining sunray-brushed and opaline surfaces, as well as an inner ring engraved in bas-relief with polished numerals. The classic applied indexes, numerals and hands of the collection are still present, with discreet luminous inserts all over the dial. Matching the dial, the Limited Master Control Memovox Timer is worn on a blue alligator strap with tone-on-tone stitchings.
While Jaeger-LeCoultre has incorporated various functions to its Memovox models over the years, such as a world time zone indicator and a parking-meter reminder, this new limited edition inaugurates a new additional complication named ‘Timer’. This enables the owner to set the alarm based on the number of hours that should elapse before the alarm rings (for example, the duration of a meeting or the number of hours of sleep on a given night) thanks to the JL-tipped red hand. Alternatively, the owner may set the alarm in the traditional way, based on a particular time – with the central disc. The indicators are linked so that whichever alarm-setting method is chosen, the second indicator will automatically move to the corresponding position.
Powering the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer is the Calibre 956, a movement that has been used by the brand for some years already. Previously, Memovox watches had a closed caseback, to which the gong was attached. However, for the first time, it is now visible under a sapphire caseback, so the hammer is visible in action. This necessitated a complete redesign of the striking mechanism, with the gong now attached to the case side. The movement has been redecorated with a pink gold rotor, in addition to the classic decor of blued screws and Geneva stripes. This automatic beats at a 4hz frequency and stores up to 45 hours of energy.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer will be limited to 250 pieces. It will be priced at EUR 16,200.
The Master Control Memovox
In addition to the 4 models already introduced in the 2020 Master Control collection – Date, Calendar, Geographic and Chronograph Calendar – Jaeger-LeCoultre adds a Memovox as a permanent member of this line of elegant watches. The case and proportions are identical to all other models, with a 40mm diameter, a light brown calfskin strap and a sunray-brushed silvery-white dial with applied indexes/numerals, dauphine hands and blued accents.
This version is a classic Memovox – no timer function here – that allows setting the time at which the alarm will ring by using the central disc and the crown at 2 o’clock. This model is also powered by the redesigned Calibre 956, also visible through a sapphire caseback. The price will be EUR 12,000.
More details at www.jaeger-lecoultre.com.