Watches

Swap Your Alarm Clock for the Analog Elegance of Jaeger-LeCoultre's New Master Control Memovox Timer

The new take on a JLC classic is now available for pre-order.
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f there’s one noise in the electric cacophony of daily life I’d like to do away with forever, it’s the alarm tone on my iPhone. I’ve tried the full gamut of digital wakey-wakeys, each one more irritating—as I crack an eyelid—than the other. Gentle birdlike cooings I can ignore, insistent beeps and peeps that annoy me in nanoseconds, stentorious music that freaks the bejaysus out of me, and all points in between. It’s no way to wake up in the morning. What if there was a gentler, more analog way to rise and shine?

Consider the mechanical alarm, like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, an oddly neglected complication that is also as old as the hills. I mean, like, even before smartphones. Plato indeed had a water clock that dropped pebbles onto gongs according to history. (Sounds awful.) Alarm functions are still championed by a select few of the old-schoolest watchmakers like Blancpain and Breguet, who feature it in some of their grandest complications (without the pebbles).

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But best of class for my money is the Memovox, which debuted in 1950. By 1956, when its successor hit the scene, it was also the first automatic watch to carry an alarm function. The Memovox also had the distinction of looking extremely sleek and modern on your wrist as it woke you up. Of course the brand is best known for its classic Reverso, a tank-shaped dress watch that you could flip over to protect it from flying polo balls. Though it may not enjoy the fame of the 90-year-old Reverso, the nifty Memovox has been revisited and updated regularly by the maison since.

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This month Jaeger-LeCoultre celebrates the 70th birthday of the alarm watch with the Master Control Memovox, available now for pre-order and hitting boutiques this fall. It has a striking blue dial—it’s still sleek and classy, taking many design cues from the earliest editions—and it also has an entirely revamped interior architecture, featuring a circular “gong” freestanding around the 956 caliber movement that is stuck by a tiny hammer, something you can see in action through the newly installed sapphire caseback.

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In fact, the brand says that the only thing that hasn’t changed is the alarm, which sounds refreshingly, charmingly like an old school bell without a hint of an electron. Check out the video to see and, more importantly, hear the Memovox in action. I will probably have to train my cat to pop downstairs and ring the doorbell at the appointed hour every morning to recreate the impression at home. But at least I can turn the damn phone off.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Nick Sullivan
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