Alarming Development: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer Updates a Classical Complication


Jaeger-LeCoultre woke up the watch market with the first version of its pioneering mechanical alarm watch, the Memovox, in 1950. Over the subsequent 70 years, the Swiss manufacture has continued to produce and update the Memovox caliber, most recently placing it inside a new model in the sporty Polaris collection. This year, the most recent upgrades to the groundbreaking movement take center stage in the new Master Control Memovox Timer, which launches today.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Memovox Timer (Ref. Q410848J)

The watch joins this year’s revamped Master Control collection, introduced back in April on the Watches & Wonders digital platform, and immediately takes its place alongside the new Chronograph Calendar (covered here) as a headliner of the series. Taking inspiration from the first Memovox watches while adding a number of contemporary elements, the watch’s sunray-brushed dial has elongated triangular indices and Arabic numerals at the hour markers (plus a date at 3 o’clock), central Dauphine hands, and a palette of blue and silver tones on its concentrically arranged rings. The rounded 40-mm case, with the sloped bezel and curving lugs characteristic of Master Control cases, features polished and brushed surfaces; its back is fitted with a sapphire viewing window, a first for a Memovox and a rarity for any watch with a mechanized alarm, which customarily requires its gong to be attached to a solid caseback. In this new model, the owner can actually watch the hammer striking said gong when the alarm sounds.

The concentric ring design and long wedge indices evoke the 1950s Memovox.

To allow for the open caseback, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watchmakers redesigned the striking mechanism, attaching the gong to the side of the case rather than the back. The other major revision to the self-winding Caliber 956, the one that differentiates the Memovox Timer from its predecessors and peers, is the ability to set the alarm based on a predetermined number of hours (i.e. to sound after two hours of sleep), rather than on a particular time (i.e., the departure time of the flight you want to catch). Both indicators are linked, so whichever method is chosen, the indicator for the other will move into its corresponding position simultaneously. On the dial, it works thusly: the inner ring with bas-relief polished numerals indicates the elapsed-hours-until-alarm with the small hand tipped by a red JLC logo. On the blue ring on its outer edge, the familiar Memovox triangular pointer indicates the actual hour and minute the alarm will ring on the main hour/minute track.

The red-tipped hand indicates how many hours until the alarm rings.

In typical Jaeger-LeCoultre fashion, the movement is as visually engaging as it is technically impressive. The new openworked rotor, made of 18k rose gold and embellished with côtes de Genève, is designed to allow an unobstructed view of the alarm’s striking mechanism as it chimes its signature “school bell” auditory alert. The movement, which like all of its brethren in the Master Control family has met the stringent criteria for Jaeger-LeCoultre’s in-house 1,000 Hours certification, holds a power reserve of 45 hours.

The self-winding Caliber 956 features an openworked gold rotor.

Limited to 250 pieces, and released alongside a new non-limited version of the Memovox (minus the Timer functionality), the Master Control Memovox Timer is priced at $15,600. The non-Timer Master Control Memovox, with the same case diameter and caliber,with a silver sunray dial, retails for $11,600.

Manufacturer:Jaeger-LeCoultre
Model: Master Control Memovox Timer
Reference number:Q410848J
Functions:Hours, minutes, seconds, date, alarm with timer function
Movement:Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 956, automatic, 45-hour reserve
Case:Stainless steel, satin and polished finishes, sapphire crystal, sapphire caseback, water-resistant to 50 meters
Bracelet and clasp:Blue leather strap
Dimensions:Diameter = 40 mm, height = 12.39 mm
Price:$15,600

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