What do you prefer: waking up to the pre-programmed tones of your smartphone or to the buzzing sound of your own watch? Jaeger- LeCoultre has made it possible since 1950, with the Memovox. The latest variant of this alarm watch is a steel version with a historically inspired dial. Unfortunately it’s limited and exclusive to the ‘JLC’ boutiques. We have no trouble overlooking the fact that the watch doesn’t have a snooze function.
What are the practical functions of a modern wristwatch? Tourbillons are precise, but any chronometer worth its salt keeps the time just as accurately at a fraction of the price. The chronograph is the most popular complication among men, but many chronos are only occasionally used as a practical instrument, to time the cooking of pasta or an egg – incidentally, it’s not unusual for us to see chronograph wearers who have the chronograph part of their watch going around without noticing. Astronomical complications mainly have an aesthetic value and make a fascinating topic of conversation when it comes to something like a moon phase that only deviates one day every 11,000 years. More often than not, world time watches are so complicated and busy that it’s impossible to intuitively read and/or operate them without a manual. In contrast, GMT watches are convenient travel companions that display two time zones at a glance, and the same applies to watches with an alarm function that produce a warning sound upon request to remind you that your parking time is up, it’s time to conclude the meeting or you need to get up to start your day.
There’s an abundance of GMT watches, but alarm watches are much rarer in today’s watch landscape; call them a dying breed. Oris, Glycine, Girard-Perregaux and IWC, for example, used to have an alarm watch in their collection, Zenith has the Pilot Doublematic, Glasshütte Original makes the Senator Diary, Vulcain – the inventors of the alarm watch in 1947 – make the Cricket, then of course there’s the Memovox and after that it literally and figuratively goes silent. If nothing else, this goes to show that the shift from practical to emotional value when it comes to the mechanical watch can be called complete. Saying Jaeger-LeCoultre equals saying Reverso, but the dyed-in-the-wool watch lover also says Memovox. The alarm watch has been a part of the permanent collection since 1950, first as a hand winder and since 1965 also with an automatic movement featuring a vibrating alarm.
Steel with a blue dial
The company celebrates the 60th anniversary of the automatic Memovox with a steel version with a blue dial. Two crowns, a revolving disk in the middle of the dial containing a triangle showing the time the alarm will go off; the exterior of the Memovox is unmistakable. Over the years there have been different striking variants on the buzzing theme, like the Memovox Parking from 2012, the Memovox Deep Sea – the very first diver’s watch with alarm function – from 1959 and the Memovox Snowdrop from the 1970s. The latter model served as inspiration for the design and the colour of the blue dial. The case of the Snowdrop Serving as a source of inspiration: Memovox Snowdrop from the 70’s is convex and very Seventies – almost a caricature – but the deep blue colour still looks as fresh as it did 40 years ago.
In the 40mm steel case of the blue Boutique edition ticks Calibre 965 and this automatic movement is a direct descendant of Calibre 815 that was first used in 1956. The movement has a frequency of 28,800 vph, has a power reserve of 48 hours and consists of 268 components. The two crowns operate the hours, minutes and date and the alarm function respectively. What’s remarkable about this new watch compared to an older model is that the newcomer almost sounds like a minute repeater. The buzzing sound has made way for a mechanical ring; wonderful to wake up to, we imagine. The Master Memovox Boutique Edition wears the ‘1000 Hours Control’ symbol, showing that the watch has undergone a full 1,000 hours of testing. For the price of this limited edition of 500 Memovox watches we suggest that you visit the nearest ‘JLC’ boutique.