The First Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox watch (1950)

The First Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox watch (1950)

Brand enthusiasts and watch collectors had almost given up hope: the legendary Memovox, which had left an indelible mark on some of the brightest hours of the last 60 years, finally celebrates its comeback. Jaeger-LeCoultre waited until the first decade of the 21st century to issue a contemporary version of the Master Memovox, one of its most emblematic creations and symbolic of an action-oriented world.

The Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux also proposes a second model inspired by this landmark watch: the Master Memovox International, introduced for the brand’s 125th anniversary in 1958 and also known as the Memovox Worldtimer. This timepiece, which has an alarm disc featuring different towns and regions, is produced in two limited editions in 18-carat pink gold and in steel. And in keeping with the traditions that have guided Jaeger-LeCoultre since its foundation, these new versions of the legendary watch are fitted with the company’s Calibre 956, which is the direct descendant of the first automatic alarm watch movement introduced in 1956.

Constantly improved, it still represents the ultimate in accuracy, robustness and reliability.

The man of action’s watch

The Memovox was born in the early 1950s, when people were trying to forget the trauma of World War II and to build new societies. As the world was looking towards the conquest of space, to go ever higher and faster became the slogan. In this context, time became increasingly valuable and mankind in every sphere of activity was required to control it and every other aspect of existence.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Worldtime (1960)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Worldtime (1960)

The invention of the first automatic movement with alarm function, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 815, was part of this historical context and it’s not a coincidence that it bears the signature of the company that has consistently perceived and expressed the signs of the times.

This inherent quality of Jaeger-LeCoultre is accompanied by an extraordinary long-term vision, and as incredible as it might seem in an era characterised by fleeting trends, the 2010 Master Memovox models are fitted with a descendant of this legendary movement which has been unremittingly improved by the factory’s engineers and watchmakers to meet the latest technical requirements. This is a rare example of a movement that’s still in production more than 50 years after its creation.

Under the changing designations marking each improved version, it has contributed to the success of such iconic round watches of the Master Control product line as the Master Grand Réveil and the Memovox Deep Sea.

The latest generation of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s automatic alarm movement, Calibre 956, constitutes the mechanical heart of these two models. Introduced in 2008, it demonstrates all the qualities required of a mechanical movement of the 21st century in terms of accuracy, reliability and robustness. It has a large free-sprung balance and a winding rotor on ceramic ball bearings that needs no lubrication or maintenance. Its gear wheels have a new kind of tooth profile that ensures smoother transmission. Calibre 956 has a frequency of 28,800 vph and a power reserve of 45 hours. Finally, it is equipped with a rapid date-change mechanism.

The automatic alarm-watch

From the early 1950s, Jaeger-LeCoultre considered that rapidly changing lifestyles in which success meant wasting no time demanded an alarm function that was utterly reliable. Minds focused on reaching business objectives had to rely on a mechanical memory that would provide timely – and audible – reminders. The Memovox or “voice of memory” thus set out to conquer the public in 1950. It was fitted with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 489.

The success of this revolutionary model encouraged the company’s watchmakers to pursue the development that in 1956 resulted in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 815 – the first automatic movement with an alarm function. From that moment on, the pioneers of modern civilization could concentrate on their missions, for even the winding of their watches was taken care of by a mechanism they could rely on completely. All they had to do was to wear the watch. This was when parking metres first appeared in city streets, and in some of the alarm-watch models the letter P replaced the alarm hand while a discreet ring announced it was time to feed the meter.

Winning unanimous public approval and eagerly sought after by collectors several decades later, this remarkable invention led the way for numerous improvements and new features.

In 1959, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 825 added a date aperture at 3 o’clock. In 1970 the Calibre 916 replaced its swinging weight by a 360° winding rotor and increased the balance frequency from 21,600 vph to 28,800 vph, which has become the norm for precision watches.

In 1989, the company introduced its first movement featuring an alarm function along with a perpetual calendar: Calibre 919 comprised no fewer than 350 parts, including a bronze gong, which is unique in watchmaking. In 2005, the Master Grand Réveil was fitted with two types of alarm. The wearer could choose between an audible ring, or, when in a meeting, a more discreet vibration. And since 2007, the Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm, powered by Calibre 912, has featured a world time function as well as a digital display of the hour and minute to which the alarm has been set.

A face of timeless beauty

While the movement has retained its essential mechanical characteristics, the styling has remained true to the watchmaking expression of supreme elegance. The flowing lines of the 40mm case, the refinement of the lugs, the choice between pink gold or steel combine to highlight the absolute purity of the silvered dial where graceful hands point to the hours, minutes and seconds. The numerals 6, 9 and 12 enliven the face of the watch, while the 3 gives way to the date aperture.

The alarm disc of the Master Memovox carries the arrow pointing to the alarm time, whereas in the Master Memovox International, the disc shows the representative cities and regions of our planet, just like the International model created for the 125th anniversary of the company. The solid case-back, struck with the new Master Control logo, ensures water resistance at a pressure of five atmospheres.

Representing watchmaking in its purest form, the two Master Memovox models are available in 18-carat pink gold or steel, with the International version being issued in strictly limited series of 250 and 750 respectively.

After all, such long-held dreams deserve to carry the inimitable scent of genuine exclusivity.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Rose Gold

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Rose Gold

Master Memovox: technical characteristics

Movement:
• mechanical automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand
• 28,800 vibrations per hour
• 45-hour power reserve
• 268 parts
• 23 jewels
• 7.45 mm high

Functions:
• hours, minutes, seconds
• date, alarm

Dial:
• silvered with numerals and hour-markers

Hands:
• rhodium-plated or gold-plated

Case:
• ø 40 mm, thickness: 14 mm
• solid back with new engraved “MASTER CONTROL” logo
• water resistance: 5 atm

Strap:
• alligator leather with folding clasp

References:
• Q1412430, 18-carat pink gold
• Q1418430, steel

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox International

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox International

Master Memovox International: technical characteristics

Movement:
• mechanical automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956, crafted, assembled and decorated by hand
• 28,800 vibrations per hour
• 45-hour power reserve
• 268 parts
• 23 jewels
• 7.45 mm high

Functions:
• hours, minutes, seconds
• date, alarm

Dial:
• black with numerals, hour-markers and transferred city names

Hands:
• rhodium-plated or gold-plated

Case:
• ø 40 mm, thickness: 14 mm
• solid back with new engraved “MASTER CONTROL” logo
• water resistance: 5 atm

Strap:
• alligator leather with folding clasp

References:
• Q1412471, 18-carat pink gold
• Q1418471, steel

  • troy

    hello i’d like to buy a vintage lecoultre worldtime.
    any chance you can help?
    thanks
    tz
    seawa

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