|Model:||Memovox Jubilee 150th Anniversary|
|Material:||stainless steel and yellow gold bezel|
|Dial Color:||champagne gold|
|Box/Paper:||Handmade Leather Travel Pouch IF ordered at WRIST ICONS|
Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox jaegher-memovox-911-jubilee
Up for sale is this iconic and very difficult to find gentleman's Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox true Jubilee 150th anniversary of 1983, a special limited edition of 300 pieces, powered with JLC Caliber K911 hand wound movement —an highly collectible alarm time piece from Jaeger LeCoultre.
This special edition Memovox has several interesting features: an unique case back with a large engraved "JL MEMOVOX" logo at the centre, a subtle mix of solid 18K Gold top and stainless steel base, two JL logo signed crowns, and a multi-tone dial with date function. It should also be noted that this Memovox has evolved into a new and modern era with starting a new case reference number, i.e. 141.012.5 starting from this 141.xxx.x reference number onwards, some other JLC watches have also followed similar number system, e.g. xxx.xxx.x for those modern models.
This is a great opportunity, for any and all vintage watch collectors, to step up to an ultra-rare Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox Alarm watch Jubilee 150th anniversary of 1983, a mix of solid 18K Gold and stainless steel base, mint untouched dial, very unique caseback, signed logo crowns.
The brand Jaeger-LeCoultre
As you might know, Jaeger-LeCoultre is also known as The Watchmaker Of Watchmakers. In 1833, Mr LeCoultre was the very first to establish a factory in the Vallée de Joux, founded before many other high end watch brands like Patek (1839) and Audemars (1875). JLC ignited the Valley’s specialty for particularly high-end, complicated horology, and it wasn’t long before the valley became the epicenter of innovative Swiss watchmaking – the Silicon Valley of its day. Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin are all neighbours, but Jaeger-LeCoultre remains the ultimate “Watch Valley” brand; the Watchmaker of Watchmakers.
Nowadays a lot of the Swiss watch companies pride themselves as being a Manufacture. So what actually is a Manufacture d'horlogerie (meaning "watchmaking manufacturer")?
It is a French language term of horology that has also been adopted in English language as a loanword. In horology, the term is usually encountered in its abbreviated form manufacture. This term is used when describing a wrist watch movement or watchworks fabricator which makes all or most of the parts required for its products in its own production facilities, as opposed to simply assembling watches using parts purchased from other firms.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is certainly one of the world’s most desirable watch brands, with current models being offered at phenomenal cost and its vintage output sought after worldwide by an army of fanatical devotees. Jaeger-LeCoultre movements are arguably the finest produced by any luxury Swiss manufacturer and are manufactured entirely “in house” at the company’s factory in the Vallee de Joux. Only a tiny handful of true “manufactures” exist ( this term being the correct one used to describe a brand that is capable of making every individual component part in its movements) and these firms are enormously revered within the industry. Even the majority of the most famous Swiss luxury marques do not actually build their own calibers from scratch, instead purchasing raw movements from one of the major Swiss “ebauche” suppliers and adding their own, in house, complication modules as required.
JLC has supplied calibers and components to all the brands. Mentioned above, and in the days when the snow still meant lockdown, the great and the good of Geneva’s ateliers, just 60km down the other side of the slopes, would have to pray they’d stocked up enough LeCoultre components to last the long winter
History of the Memovox
The vast majority of our buyers are experienced collectors, at an advanced stage of the hobby, but for those visitors who are not, it is worth a very brief explanation of the Memovox (i.e. voice of the memory) and what makes it so attractive. Introduced in 1952, its key feature was a built in mechanical alarm function (Wrist Alarm, calibre 489). There had been alarm wristwatches before, most notably the Vulcain Cricket, but Jaeger LeCoultre was the first to offer this complication in a very luxurious, high cost package.
Most, if not all, vintage watch connoisseurs today would regard the Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox as the epitome of the alarm wristwatch, and it remains an essential inclusion in any serious collection that aims to chart the landmark models of the 20th century.
The first alarm watch was actually designed and brought to market by the American watch company Vulcain. It was called the Cricket. When the Le Locle manufacture Vulcain invented the first distinctly audible wristalarm in 1947 and brought it to market, it excited attention with this world premiere. Back then the manufacture movement Cricket (Calibre Vulcain 120) used the natural resonance technique of the cricket: By installing a second caseback a resonance membrane was created, which for the first time mechanically generated a very loud and long lasting alarm sound. This led to the name of the watch: "Cricket".
The Vulcain Cricket was also known as "The President's Watch", because it was worn by many US Presidents - including Truman, Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon - who appreciated it because of its useful additional complication.
The first Jaeger-leCoultre alarm watches were designed in the late 1950s and they called these watches the “Wrist Alarm”. Shortly thereafter, the company introduced the "Memovox" (a combination of the Latin "memo," or memory, and "vox," or voice) brand, and this has continued since then. The Memovox had an very interesting combination of innovation and design. As a collector one can start only collecting Jaeger-leCoultre Memovox watches. Since there are so many different variations in cases and dials as well as movements. You can choose such a lot cool watches. In stainless steel or in precious metals but also the dials are really nice. You have silver dials but also tuxedo dials and blueish dial and many other beautiful options you can choose.
One of the interesting aspects of the Memovox is that because of its niche position in the market, it has never dipped in value at any time since vintage watch collecting emerged as a hobby in the early 1980s. The Memovox was quickly recognised as highly desirable then, and still occupies the same position today.
With every year that has passed, good, original vintage Memovox examples have risen steadily in worth. In our business, we have seen this appreciation accelerate especially over the last decade, as very nice survivors, like this Jubilee special edition, have noticeably disappeared from the market place. A decade ago, we might buy twenty really first rate Memovox models in a typical year, but today, this has thinned down to perhaps five or six, simply because we don’t see them in an original condition that we find acceptable on a regular basis.
Classic Wrist Alarm and Memovox models have long been in fgashion by collectors. But in the last few years, locating worthwhile examples has been much more of a challenge. This Jubilee Mevovox limited edition represents a rare surviving example of their type, and is ideal as something that could be bought as a serious investment, while at the same time remaining a very useful object.
A lot of the complications found on vintage wristwatches are fascinating, but, in truth, not a great day of use in a practical sense. When staying in hotels on business, or simply for timing the length of time one has left on a parking meter, having an alarm feature on a wristwatch can be very handy. The Memovox alarm-watch must wake up in the morning and, during the day, is to be used as a reminder. These two functions require different intensities of sounds. The back of the watch serving as bell, the sound is most discreet if the watch is on the arm of its owner, but quite sufficient to remind him of an appointment. The watch functioning as alarm is placed on the bedside table and the sound will be quite loud enough in as much as the back of the watch can vibrate freely. The excellent book “The Alarm Wristwatch” by Michael Horlbeck includes a section entitled “Milestones of Alarm History”. Very interestingly, Horlbeck comments that the lugs on most Memovox are angled back more steeply from the case than they would be on a conventional watch, this having the effect of slightly raising the case back from the wearer’s wrist and making the alarm more audible.
From the innovation perspective Jaeger-LeCoultre choose for the Memovox to separate the power reserve for the timekeeping and alarm functions. The Memovox movements have always had a separate mainspring for the alarm. In hand-wound Memovox models, the alarm spring is wound using the upper (2:00) crown, which also sets the 12-hour alarm disc and activates the alarm.
Manufactured entirely in-house by Jaeger LeCoultre in its own factory in LeSentier, the movements used in these alarm watches are a delight to examine. Brilliant examples of the luxury watch maker’s art, they stand out as some of the most ingenious pieces of micro-mechanical engineering that have ever come out of Switzerland.
Anyone with an interest in high grade movement making will get a great deal of pleasure in owning one of these rare units.
While the basic concept of the Memovox remained constant, and its method of operation was unchanged, it is important to realise that Jaeger LeCoultre developed the movements in these watches, and they evolved in several identifiable stages.
The mechanism in this watch is calibre K911, which was the third generation of hand wound Jaeger LeCoultre alarm movements, coming after the 489 of 1950 and the 814 of 1953.
Launched in 1964, and in production until 1979, it could be argued credibly that the K911 was the most refined of the hand wound Memovox movement. It is especially interesting, from a collector’s perspective on account of it combining aspects, that were a return to the first generation 489 with new technology that hadn’t been applied to alarm movements in the past. For example, the 489 was built around three separate bridges, whereas its replacement, for ease of manufacture, had a single upper plate. The design of the K911 and 916 went full circle back to the same three bridge construction that had appeared on the 489 fourteen years earlier. However, Kif Flector shock absorption was used, combined with an extremely impressive fine regulation system that was identical to that which had been pioneered on Jaeger LeCoultre’s much sought after Geomatic chronometer. The K911 was effectively a distillation of all the best aspects of the two previous alarm calibres, blended with a cherry picked selection of state of the art refinements from the rest of the company’s movement range.
All Memovox series movements operate in exactly the same way. The upper crown winds and sets the alarm function, entirely independently of the standard timekeeping aspect of the watch, which is controlled by the lower crown. Though expensive to create, this separation had the great benefit of increased accuracy. On many previous alarm watches, by various concerns, when the alarm rung out, it immediately placed an excessive load on the power supply to the rest of the movement, causing its beat rate to fractionally slow. Jaeger LeCoultre’s solution to this old problem was technically difficult, but ensured that even when the alarm was in full sonorous swing, accuracy was maintained as before.
Jaeger LeCoultre alarm movements are complex units, with a wide range of moving parts, and the importance of only buying an example in very nice state cannot be over-stressed. Even the finest quality movement will become unreliable if it is allowed to corrode or has been modified with non-standard components, in order to carry out a low budget, back street repair. This is a perfectly well preserved movement, running nicely, both as a conventional timekeeper and in its capacity as an alarm watch. Perhaps even more fundamentally, it is original throughout and has not been adulterated at any time with incorrect replacement parts.
As it should be, this movement is fully signed “Jaeger LeCoultre, Swiss, Seventeen (17) Jewels, Adjusted to three (3) positions”, together with the calibre number K911. There is also the individual serial number 1608613
Jaeger LeCoultre K911 is a very high grade calibre, with 17 Jewels, rhodium-plated, a power reserve of 45 hours, an autonomy of 20 seconds for the alarm, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock absorber, self-compensating flat balance spring, etc.
Its silver coloured rhodium finish is unbroken and the plates are not at all brassed. Vitally, it remains entirely original throughout, with no modifications or non-standard components of any kind. It works very nicely and the alarm rings out exactly as it should.
Original owner have had the good sense not to begrudge spending money on regular servicing and we would strongly advise continuing this approach in the future.
Jaeger LeCoultre has a division at its Le Sentier base that has been set up to specifically look after classic watches like this one, but equally, there is no reason at all why this item should not be looked after just as well by any experienced local repairer. The quality of these Jaeger LeCoultre movements was so high in the first instance that they tend to be very reliable, provided they are cleaned and re-oiled every three or four years without fail.
Unlike many of its competitors, Jaeger LeCoultre manufactured its own movements entirely in-house with no use of components purchased from external suppliers. This had the great advantage that the firm was in complete control at every stage of the production process and could ensure a consistency of machining and finishing that was at times lacking in the output of the lesser brands.
DIAL : Dials, or to be more specific, their condition and originality, are fundamental when buying a vintage wristwatch for investment. At a lower level, when perhaps four or five hundred dollars are spent on an object that is a whimsical purchase to be worn as something of a novelty, this is less of an issue. When buying further up the scale, a lot of the appeal of these classic high-end models is that they have a proven track record of going up in value, year after year. But it must be appreciated that only the best examples have this potential and shoddy, second rate watches, with aspects that are sub-standard, will always remain as such in the eyes of knowledgeable enthusiasts.
Even as full time dealers, with a large network of contacts, we find it very difficult to source watches with well-preserved dials in sufficient quantities to satisfy our customers. The multi-tone dial here is original to the watch, untouched, very attractive, and could be conservatively graded as mint condition, without any degree of deterioration at the point where the outer chapter ring, the part with the applied hour indexes in this instance, overlaps the centre rotating alarm indication section.
The full “Jaeger LeCoultre” signature is written in black, in the company's famous scripted typeface, with "Memovox" and “Swiss Made”, along its very bottom edge. Around 1950, watchmakers started using Tritium as their luminous material and began indicating the amount of that radioactive material with a designation at the bottom of the dial (i.e. T SWISS T). Around 1998, watchmakers changed the designation to read SWISS or SWISS MADE, when they replaced the Tritium with LumiNova (an organic, non-radioactive chemical), as their source of luminescence.
The first of these Jaeger LeCoultre alarm watches was marketed in 1952 as the “Wrist Alarm”, with the generally held view being that the “Memovox” title appeared with the arrival of the first automatic version in 1956. By 1967, the Memovox name, catchier and more distinctive than Wrist Alarm, had come to encompass both, hand wound and self-winding models.
We still know die hard collectors who obtusely insist on calling only automatic versions by the Memovox name, but in fact, the existence of later examples proves that Jaeger LeCoultre itself was happy to use this for its alarm watches in all their different forms.
It should also be noted that the date function works as it should, flips at midnight, and has a quick set date.
All three hands are original. These are the classic batons hands, in gilt to match the gold hour indexes and alarm indicator triangle. Tarnished, scruffy hands, will always have a negative effect on the overall appearance of a watch, but these are in excellent condition.
CROWNS: This watch is fitted with its original Jaeger LeCoultre correct signed logo crowns (JL). The upper crown winds and sets the alarm function, while the time and date are controlled by the lower crown.
This Memovox is extremely simple to operate. To set the time, pull out the lower crown and set the watch by turning the hands to the right time. The hands should be turned clockwise. To set the alarm, pull out the upper crown and turn it counter-clockwise. Notice that the small alarm indicator triangle moves with relation to the circular "alarm time scale". Set the alarm indicator triangle to the desired alarm time. Return the upper crown to its normal position by depressing it slightly. The alarm is now set up and ready to ring. To stop the alarm from ringing, merely pull the upper crown out to the "set" position.
If you do not wish the alarm to ring, leave the upper crown in the "set" position. The alarm will function only with the upper crown depressed and wound.
MOVEMENT : —Professionally serviced and timed THIS WEEK— The hand built, in-house movement, must be the most important part of any watch by Jaeger LeCoultre, and the utterly gorgeous fully signed "Jaeger LeCoultre" caliber K911 here is a joy to behold.
The K911 was the final development of the exceptionally successful 814 series movements that had been developed by Jaeger LeCoultre as a result of its wartime research program.
Jaeger LeCoultre did not invent the concept of the wristwatch with an alarm feature, but it did refine the genre to the point that any collection aiming to chart the significant developments that occurred in the luxury watch field over the 20th century would be incomplete without either a Wrist Alarm or Memovox/Memodate.
CASE : The Solid 18K Gold top case and stainless steel case back has an indisputable elegance and measures 37.60 mm with counting the logo signed crowns, 36 mm without, and 41mm with the lugs. The edges here are well defined and it is quite clear that this watch has been a cherished possession of its former owner. On the wrist, this Memovox special edition has a very nice presence and features a unique caseback with a large engraved "JL Memovox" logo at its centre. Also here is the model reference for this Jubilee 150th anniversary, 141.012.5 and the individual serial number, 1605828.
It should also be noted that the tiny hole visible on the case back, located between the two crowns, is not a default, but an original and ingenious feature to the Jubilee Memovox, to indicate the exact position for the back lid cover to be perfectly aligned while closing.
Internally, we find the case back engraved with the full "Jaeger LeCoultre, Swiss" signature. The internal case back surface is beautifully pearled with a delightful engine turned pattern. Every time we have the pleasure of examining a vintage Jaeger LeCoultre, we are astounded and awed as to how much attention to detail the firm put into laboriously finishing parts of its watches that would never be seen by the vast majority of buyers. The manufacturers of cheap watches, both in the vintage era and today, have always concentrated their efforts on offering the most glamorous external appearance for the lowest price, but neglect the parts of the watch that will not influence the average retail buyer to make a purchase. Houses like Jaeger LeCoultre put so much more into these watches than most of their owners will ever realise, and this pearled inside case back is just one of numerous examples of the spectacular internal finishing of this particular Jubilee limited edition.
STRAP and BUCKLE : This Memovox comes with a original Jaeger-leCoultre ostrich leather strap in excellent used condition
While interest in the company’s alarm watches has always been strong, the profile of the Memovox has grown over the last seven years, helped by the media attention lavished on the new models that Jaeger LeCoultre has developed in connection with British sports car maker Aston Martin. The Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox deserves its status as a wristwatch icon. This is a model range that, in all its forms, had a great influence on the luxury watch market of its era and was just as desirable half a century ago as it remains today.
This particular Jaeger-LeCoultre has been checked by our watch maker. The watch is running and keeping good time
As with all of our pre-owned watches this watch comes with a full 12 month WRIST ICONS warranty that will be invoked from the day of purchase. Please check our website to have a look at the high resolution pictures on a macro level. You will see every detail at its best.
Model: Memovox —Jubilee 150th Anniversary— (Limited edition of 300 pieces!)
Year: late 1983
Calibre: Swiss made hand wound Jaeger LeCoultre, Cal. K911. Signed "Jaeger LeCoultre, Swiss, 17 Jewels". Working great and keeping accurate time.
Movement No: 1608613
Case: stainless steel case with a mix of golden stepped bezel on top and stainless steel base and two signed crowns. Case back with back with special "JL" logo
Inscriptions case back: 1608613
Dimensions: Case Length 37.60 mm with "JL" signed logo crowns and 36 without. 38 mm with the lugs. Case Thickness:11 mm with glass.
Dial: mint silver dial with beautiful silver indices. Signed "Jaeger LeCoultre, Memovox, Swiss Made" with date aperture. Quick set date function works as it should!
Movement: powered by caliber K8916: 17 jewels, date function, anti-magnetic, shock absorbing, 28’800 A/hour.
Bracelet/strap: fitted on a Jaeger-LeCoultre leather strap with a signed JL buckle
Condition: : Pre-owned. Excellent condition with some light signs of wear to case and crystal.