Jaeger-LeCoultre – The Memovox Adventure

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Voice of the memory

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 4:38pm

[Featured Article]

The birth of an icon

The Swiss Grande Maison designed the Memovox in 1950 with the express purpose of helping businessmen remember their meetings through its chiming function. The Voice of Memory, as its name implied, was its first alarm watch.  An 1950 advertisement touted the manually wound mechanic watch as “Memovox reminds, notifies, and wakes up.”

The timepiece, with its sleek, classic lines, and an additional crown to control the alarm function made such a mark that the Swiss authorities of the Canton of Vaud, where the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture is located, gave it as a gift to iconic silent film star Charlie Chaplin in 1953.

The first Memovox automatic debuts

Such was the success of the revolutionary timepiece that Jaeger-LeCoultre quickly invented an automatic version in 1956, the first of its kind that incorporated an alarm function, to the Memovox line.

Without the need to wind the watches as it was taken care of by a mechanism they could rely on entirely, adventurers and sportsmen of all types took to the Memovox Automatic. The watch quickly made a name for itself and was even featured in an advertisement from the 1970s, showing the newly created Concorde with the dynamic slogan: “Memovox, for the man of action.”

The Memovox takes to the ocean

Three years on, the Grande Maison innovated again.  In 1959, it took to the ocean with the Memovox Deep Sea.  The world’s first diving watch equipped with an alarm, it made a huge splash among scuba divers for its purpose was to ensure their safety. Two versions were produced – one for European divers and the other for their American counterparts.

In 2011, the Manufacture paid tribute to this historical model with a limited series re-edition that also came with both European and American versions.

The brightest star of the family

Not content to rest on the laurels of the Memovox Deep Sea’s success, Jaeger-LeCoultre upped the ante on diving watches by inventing the Memovox Polaris fitted with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 825 in 1962.  Named after one of the brightest stars in the universe, the new timepiece plumbed the depths of the ocean in an era where all kind of expeditions, be it to space, the sea or the poles were in vogue.

A pre-series of 50 pieces with a sizable 42mm case for easier legibility was launched in 1963.  More importantly, it featured an innovative threefold case-back to amplify the alarm function, while remaining fully watertight.  A first case-back, in bronze, made the alarm resonate.  A water-resistant case-back protected the mechanism from contact with water.  Finally, a third exterior case-back with 16 openings made it possible for the sound of the alarm to be clearly heard under the waves. The super-compressor cases enhanced the water resistance of the watch to 200 metres.

Another advancement came in the unique rotating bezel which was moved internally and controlled by a third crown.  In addition, the watch was also resistant to both shocks and magnetism.

In 1968 came a significant Golden Age innovation for the diving watch, with Jaeger-LeCoultre releasing the most iconic Memovox Polaris model with a new, sportier dial.  The numerals were transferred and coated with Tritium®, and the hour markers came in a new trapezoid shape, with the small triangle indicating the time of the alarm.  The hands were baton-shaped and also covered with luminescent material.

The new face of the Memovox Polaris

Fast forward to 2018, and the Grande Maison celebrates the 50th golden anniversary of this Golden Age icon with a modern take on this benchmark-setting watch. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox stays true to its lineage, with its vintage inspiration perceived in every detail.  The elegant aesthetic remains, with a redesigned 42mm stainless steel case featuring the signature three crowns. The special alarm function that was made famous by the 1968 Memovox Polaris is now driven by the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956.  A direct descendant of the first automatic watch movement created by the Manufacture in the 1950s, it packs a 44-hour power reserve.