Perhaps the most interesting and adventurous of all the major high-end watchmakers, founded in 1833 Jaeger-LeCoultre has had an incredibly inventive history, developing over 1,249 mechanical calibres, registering over 400 Patents and playing a tremendous role in the development of the industry as a whole. Whether it is the keyless watch, calibre 101, the iconic Reverso or the Memovox alarm, it would be difficult to imagine a historical account of watchmaking without the mention of Jaeger-LeCoultre. The company has always been a true ‘Manufacturer’ of the finest quality watch movements. This is unusual because more often than not, high-end brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin would often buy in movements for particular needs. For example, in 1967 when Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin needed an ultra-thin automatic movement, it was to Jaeger-LeCoultre they turned, to produce one for them. Furthermore, the exquisite Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 920, is still in production and in use today by both Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet.
The name Memovox is composed of the two Latin words ‘memo’ and ‘vox’ which respectively mean ‘remember’ and ‘voice’. By most accounts, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox came to the market during 1950 with the hand wound Calibre 489 movement. However, the example you see here is a very early and exceedingly rare pink gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, from 1949. This model 3150 with beautiful hooded, cylindrical lugs was the first Memovox model produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre which was only manufactured from 1949 to 1952. Although it was formally introduced at the Basel watch fair in 1951, we are aware from various sources, that the Memovox was gradually introduced to the market during 1950. The example here however, has the movement serial number 648982, meaning it was produced in the first half of 1949, making this one of the very first Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox ever made!
The Watch Case
This case is simply divine. The hooded cylindrical lugs not only add an extra touch of class to the case design, but are also functional in that they hold the watch higher on the wrist than is normal. This is to increase the resonance and volume of the alarm.
The 18ct pink gold case measures 35mm in diameter, excluding the JL signed crowns. Pink gold was not as commonly used as it is today, making this a rare watch. Many more were made in yellow gold, gold plate and steel. When we factor this in, and that this model was only made for three years, only for the European market, and that production volumes were initially very low, this all makes this a very rare watch. Add in also, that the case number shows it was produced around April 1949, making it one of the first Memovox ever produced and therefore a highly collectable watch indeed.
The case has been cleaned and carefully inspected by our case-maker for any signs of weakness or excessive wear, and there are none. The case has simply required some very careful and gentle hand-polishing to bring it back to its almost ‘as new’ condition. It is in immaculate condition with no dings or scratches visible to the naked eye. This is a high quality JLC Swiss made two-piece case. The press-fit case-back has never been engraved and is of full thickness. It is tight fitting and clicks back with a very satisfyingly firm ‘click’. The case carries external 18ct hallmarks along with the case serial number 517855.
Please note, as ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
This watch carries its original Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre K489, 17 Jewels hand-wound movement which is running perfectly. The alarm function is also working perfectly with a quite a loud buzz which lasts for 15 seconds and which can also be felt on the wrist.
This watch has been fully overhauled and serviced by our vintage JLC specialist watchmaker and having had it on test on our electronic time-grapher machine to check the timing, it is running within +9 seconds per day when fully wound. This is outstanding for any watch of this age. The movement also has a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound. It has been very well maintained and cared for, evidenced by the movement which is in sparkling condition We therefore have no hesitation in offering our 12 month warranty on the movement of this watch*.
The movement is signed Jaeger-LeCoultre, Swiss, and carries the calibre number K489 and the serial number 648982, dating watch to 1949.
*Please note, the 12 month warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.
The Watch Dial
The two-tone silver dial carries pink gold ‘dagger’ and triangular hour indices with original ‘Index’ hands, and a blued steel seconds hand. The centre gold alarm disc is set using the top crown and the alarm is wound with the same crown. We think the use of the colours, silver, pink gold and light gold along with the minimalist hour indices, all works wonderfully against the pink gold case, giving the watch great deal of panache.
This is the original dial which has been previously restored to a very high standard.
The Strap & Buckle
The watch has been fitted with a new dark cherry red crocodile strap with a gold plated buckle. We think this contrasts very nicely with the pink gold case and the dial, however, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige, free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock, in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin. We can also obtain most types, and colours of strap from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of 18mm straps if you wish, here.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating this watch to 1949. Detailed particulars will be included with the receipt, along with our 12 months Warranty*. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will also be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.
The hardwood presentation box as shown in the photographs is included in the sale.
This is almost certainly the most special and earliest example of a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox you are ever likely to see. It is in simply amazing condition and even though it is approaching 70 years old, it is still completely fresh, reliable and practical to wear regularly or even as your everyday watch, should you wish to do so. However you may wish to look at it, this timepiece will make an excellent investment and heirloom piece, as well as be something to treasure and enjoy. As each year goes by and the world market for vintage gold watches grows ever larger, limited supply allied to high demand means prices will inevitably climb higher and higher!
A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very best quality watches we can find before restoring these to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach inevitably means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are a number of well known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept Paypal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you choose to pay by UK bank transfer, we will be pleased to pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Please contact us to reserve the watch and request our bank details.
Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or International Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please note we welcome part exchanges and if you have a watch or small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.
We will be happy to Service, Repair, or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions, please call our landline 020 7727 7095 or mobile 07515 949 250 or if calling from overseas our landline number is +44 207 727 7095 or mobile +44 7515 949 250.
We will be happy to answer any questions and offer advice about this or any of our watches listed for sale. If you would like some general advice regarding any aspect of vintage watches, including buying, selling, or collecting, we will also be very happy to hear from you. We await your call!
Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine Vintage Gold Watches!