In 1950, when Jaeger-LeCoultre debuted the first Memovox watch, the model’s signature alarm functionality—derived from minute repeaters of yore, but considerably less fussy—distinguished the brand as a post-war pioneer of new watchmaking technologies.
Over the ensuing decades, the original caliber (489) evolved, and the Memovox spawned new iterations: the first automatic alarm watch, in 1956; the 1958 Memovox Worldtime and Memovox Parking models (the latter a handy reminder of when to pay your meter); the 1959 Memovox Deep Sea; the 1968 Memovox Polaris; and the 1970 high-speed frequency “Speedbeat” Memovox.
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Now, the watchmaker has for the first time placed the Memovox inside its Master Control collection, with the new Master Control Memovox and Master Control Memovox Timer, two chiming models with a contemporary design ethos.
“Most alarm movements have disappeared, but the Memovox is still here,” said Stéphane Belmont, director of patrimony at Jaeger-LeCoultre, during a recent Zoom presentation. “We really believe that watches that emit a sound bring another dimension to the watch and make the watch really special.”
Both models are housed in a new 40 mm stainless steel Master Control case and are powered by Caliber 956, which has been entirely redesigned to accommodate a transparent sapphire caseback (previous Memovox models had a closed back, with a gong attached centrally). Now, the hammer, attached to the side of the case, is on full display, along with an open-worked pink gold rotor embellished with Côtes de Genève finishing.
The Master Control Memovox, which retails for $11,600, has a classic, streamlined aesthetic with mid-century touches, such as applied indexes with an elongated triangular shape.
The Master Control Memovox Timer, which retails for $15,600 and is available in a limited edition of 250 pieces, offers wearers the ability to set an alarm for elapsed time (say, for grilling a steak), in addition to setting the time in the traditional way, such as a wake-up call. Its dial features a series of concentric circles in two shades of blue. The inner ring contains a small hand tipped with a red JL logo, which indicates the elapsed hours until alarm.
Fans of vintage Memovox models will be pleased to know that the alarm’s signature “school bell” sound remains unchanged.
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