Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox
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Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox

A spring is wound, a gear moves, and a hammer strikes a bell.

An alarm is a simple concept—an ancient one, really—and yet it’s always a surprise to find it in a watch.

The ancient Greeks had the water clock, invented by Ctesibus. By the Renaissance, daily life in Europe was punctuated by the sound of the village clock. But until the 1940s, no one had succeeded in miniaturizing an alarm clock and putting it on the wrist.

That is until Vulcain unveiled—with great pomp and the popping of champagne corks—the Cricket at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. It was a great triumph, the culmination of years of work. Though it was technically not the first wrist alarm ever created (that honor going to Eterna, who filed the patent for its wrist alarm in 1914), it was the first to do so successfully.

Prior to the Cricket’s release, attempts by Eterna weren’t accurate or loud enough for daily use, and were quickly shelved; but the Vulcain Cricket proved that the concept was a viable one, and it became a critical and financial success.

For several years its hold on the niche of wrist alarms was secure—that is, until Jaeger-LeCoultre released a watch that would topple it from its pedestal.

The name that JLC chose for its pioneering wrist alarm was simple, elegant, a portmanteau of two words: Memovox. Memo, short for the Latin memoro, or remember. Vox, the Latin word for voice.

For the Memovox, JLC developed a different alarm mechanism than Vulcain had used with its revolutionary Cricket: a hammer that strikes against a post that is directly welded to the case back. This was unlike the Cricket, which uses a resonant dual case back design. In so doing, JLC set itself apart, and created one of the most iconic models of post-war watchmaking.

JLC began offering Memovoxes on the American market in 1951. These models were either cased in steel, or plated with gold, and featured an array of dial configurations. However, most of these watches were 35mm in diameter, but the watch we offer here is 38mm.

This is due to the movement that powers it: the Calibre 825 bumper-wind movement. Introduced in 1959 and used for a decade, the Calibre 825 is the successor to the famed Calibre 815, but with a date window. While the addition of any complication can be a haphazard affair, causing countless difficulties when the time comes for the watch to be serviced (as with the Calibre 11 or Chronomatic), this is not the case with the Calibre 825.

Expertly-assembled and as carefully-crafted as anything to come out of the manufacture at Le Sentier, it is a wonder of a little machine, solid and dependable, and thanks to its bumper-winding system, you can actually feel it at work on your wrist.

But the most visually arresting feature of this watch is not what beats inside it, but the dial: a gorgeous red hue that until now we’d only seen on a Reverso. The way it catches the like and contrasts with the warm gold hue of the case is nothing short of breathtaking. This watch is truly a feast for the eyes and the ears, and will bring joy for years to come.

Details

SKU: AS02301

Available exclusively at Marshall Pierce

10k gold-filled case is approximately 38mm (excluding crowns). Calibre K825 Bumper-Wind Movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall showing signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition overall showing some signs of age, including dark patina to the luminescent elements. Seconds hand is missing lume. Unsigned crowns.

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