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The Vulcain Cricket was the first popular mechanical alarm watch to hit the market. Introduced in 1947, the Cricket was the first alarm watch to be simple and robust enough to be enjoyed on the wrist. It gained much accolade, being enjoyed by several U.S. Presidents such as Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon, and Vulcain bestowed every president since then (with the exception of George W. Bush) with a Cricket.
In an effort to capitalize on the success of the Vulcain Cricket, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the Memovox in 1950. Unlike the Cricket, the Memovox (a portmanteau of the Latin "memo," or memory, and "vox," or voice) utilized a unique twin-crown system--the top winding and setting the alarm, the bottom winding and setting the time. The alarm mechanism was also particular to the Vulcain: the Memovox employed a hammer that strikes against a post directly welded to the case back, whereas the Cricket used a resonant dual case back design.
JLC set itself apart in the construction of the Memovox, and in so doing, created one of the most iconic models of post-war watchmaking. The Memovox was the perfect mixture of innovation and style, and while multiple brands produced mechanical alarms in an array of designs and executions, the Memovox from JLC is generally considered the benchmark of the model. By the early 1960s, the watch had become a mainstay in JLC's lineup.
These early models of Memovox were entirely manually wound. They were equipped with the Calibre 489, JLC's first alarm movement, which was first developed in 1949 and debuted at Basel in 1951. A robust and energetic movement, it kept excellent time and offered potent alarm reporting.
But by 1956, JLC began to develop automatic movements. The first of these was the calibre 815. A repeater alarm--the first in any automatic movement--it was later used in the Deep Sea Alarm.
The calibre 916, contained in this watch, was introduced in 1969 and boasted a beat rate of 28,800. It was also the very first alarm watch to depart from the usual bumper with a free-rotating rotor. Like with the earlier alarm calibers, the alarm in the cal. 916 was sounded by a hammer striking against a post on the case back. Unlike the previous calibers, the calibre 916 featured a hole in the center of the rotor that secured the post. The cal. 916 improved an already-innovative model and was so successful that Girard-Perregaux used it in their Gyromatic alarm (ref. GP 080).
The watch that JLC used the cal. 916 is the ref. E873, featured here. A strong watch, with a distinctive 39mm egg-shaped case, it perfectly captures the essence of 1970s design. It's also rare, with estimates of only 1000 pieces ever produced.
Distinctive, well-constructed, innovative, the ref. 873 Memovox is a must-have for the collector who desires an alarm watch that differs from the norm.
Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crowns). JLC Ref. E873, hi-beat calibre 916.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel cushion case is in excellent condition with factory brush finishing and only minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in superb condition with crisp printing and no major blemishes or signs of discoloration. Luminescent elements on the hour markers have gained a fine even patina over time. Signed crowns; signed case back has some tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 17mm slate-grey leather strap.