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.
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.