Perhaps the most interesting and adventurous of all the major high-end watchmakers, Jaeger-LeCoultre, founded in 1833, 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 in 1950 with the hand-wound Calibre 489 movement. However, in 1969 Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the much improved high precision Calibre K916 automatic HF, an example of which we describe in some detail below.
The 1972 example here in 18ct yellow gold is sometimes referred to as the ‘Jumbo’ due to its 37mm two-piece screw-back watch case. The two-tone gold dial is original and unrestored and has simply been gently cleaned to bring it back to the almost ‘as new’ condition you see here. Following some light restoration of the case and a full overhaul of the movement, this watch is now in tip-top condition and running and functioning perfectly. Naturally, it comes complete with its original JL signed winding crowns and JL signed gold plated buckle.
The Watch Dial
The two-tone gold dial with date function and centre minutes track, features its original ‘Index’ style hands which are matched with applied gilt black lined batons. The deep gold centre rotating disc, used for setting the alarm function, contrasts with the more yellow outer dial and again by the gold case. The different gold finishes on the dial catch the light beautifully as we have tried to demonstrate in the photographs. As ever the watch and dial look much better in real life.
As usual, Jaeger has done an excellent job of keeping the dial very clear and simple, considering the extra alarm function of the watch.
This is the original unrestored dial which has simply been gently cleaned to bring it back to the almost as new condition you see here.
Also known as a “Speed Beat”, the JLC Calibre K916 beats 28,000 at beats per hour for greater accuracy and resistance to motion. This was also the world’s first automatic alarm watch to use a rotor which rotates through 360 degrees. The added complication of a date function to this already unique, high beat, automatic, alarm, waterproof watch, elevates it to something really special. This movement was a milestone in watchmaking, the culmination of decades of history and technological improvements in watchmaking by Jaeger-LeCoultre. It was also truly successful, remaining in production for 20 years between 1969 and 1989 when it was eventually replaced by the JLC Calibre 919.
The movement on this watch is running and functioning perfectly. The alarm is wound and set with the crown at 2 o’clock. When the alarm sounds it is perfectly loud enough to hear without being too loud and one can also feel the alarm gently vibrating on the wrist. It will sound for 20 seconds, unless you wish to silence it immediately, by pulling out the same crown at 2 o’clock. This is very convenient since the alarm has its own alarm spring, which takes quite a bit of winding from its fully unwound state. Of course, if you only want the alarm to sound for around 5 seconds and for it not to be so loud, then simply wind the alarm crown to a quarter of its fully wound state.
The watch movement has been fully overhauled and serviced by our vintage JLC specialist watchmaker and after having been on test on our electronic time-grapher, it is running arrow straight, within +2 seconds per day! This is outstanding for any watch of this age. The movement also has a power reserve of 44 hours when fully wound. This movement has been very well maintained and cared for and 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 K916 and the serial number 155990, dating the watch to 1972.
*Please note, our 12-month warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The heavy 18ct yellow Gold watch case measures 37mm, excluding the correct twin Jaeger-LeCoultre signed crowns. The case is of a two-piece construction with a heavy screw-down case back. The case back has never been engraved and is of full thickness
This watch has been very well cared for and after cleaning and close inspection has simply required some gentle and careful 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.
The inside of the case back carries the Jaeger-LeCoultre signature and Swiss 18ct hallmarks. On the outside of the case back, are found the Jaeger-LeCoultre model number 875 21, and the case serial number 1544569.
Please note, although this watch was specified as waterproof when new, and even though the rubber seals have been replaced on the crowns and case back, this has not been tested and it is not guaranteed. As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap & Buckle
The watch has been fitted with a high quality tan Lizard skin strap with a gold plated Jaeger-LeCoultre buckle (not shown). 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 and we can obtain most types and colours of strap from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of 17mm 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 1972. Detailed particulars will be included with the receipt, along with our 12 months Warranty*. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value 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.
A superb Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox with a landmark movement, in tip-top condition. This is a completely reliable and practical watch to wear as your everyday watch and it will make an excellent investment and heirloom piece, as well as be something to use, 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!