Lately, when I find myself in New York City, I’ve made it a point to make two stop-offs… One pit stop is to Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side – to get my sugar fix. My other favorite destination is analog/shift – to satisfy my craving for watches. Analog/shift doesn’t have a storefront, but all it takes is an email or text message to score an invite to their man cave meets watch museum office space. Analog’s founder James, and his wingman Jacob, are always the consummate hosts. They have a way of making you feel right at home thanks to their special way of rolling out the red carpet for guests, which is unfolding watch roll upon watch roll and pouring you a double shot from their minibar.
Last Wednesday I had a quick layover in New York on my way home to visit family in New England. James was in Geneva attending SIHH, but Jacob was around manning the fort. Over the course of several in-depth watch conversations, Jacob mentioned a Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox they had in stock – with box and papers. He pulled out the deep sea colored box and handed it to me; the leather making a slight creaking sound along the joint as I opened it. Inside, engrained in the fibers of its gray suede interior, was a nostalgic aroma from the people it had been around and the places it had been. And from the looks of this Memovox’s condition – no signs of polishing and honest patina – my guess is that it had probably been socked away in a dresser drawer for the past few decades.
After gently unfolding the documents and flipping through them, my next order of business was to try out the alarm mechanism. After all, JLC is considered by many to be THE brand to own if you want a watch with an alarm function. And of all the cool watches I’ve personally handled, I think this was the first time I held a vintage alarm wristwatch in my hand. Needless to say I was curious to experience an alert that wasn’t digital.
I set the alarm by pulling out and turning the crown at two o’clock to rotate the inner disc and align the small triangle with the precise time I wanted the alarm to engage, which in my case was in five minutes. The last operation was to push in the crown and give it a full wind. I went back to what I was doing, trying to forget about the impending notification so as to be genuinely surprised when it went off… Sure enough, like clockwork – pardon the pun – the watch began to hum at the appointed time; sending a massaging pulsation over my wrist.
We’re not sure if someone originally purchased this JLC Memovox automatic calendar for themselves or as a gift for someone else… If it was bought by a local or a traveler… But, since it comes with its filled out guarantee, we do know it was sold for approximately £52 on March 4, 1971 at a jewelry store in the town of Bishop’s Stortford – about 50 miles north of London.
As is the case with most vintage timepieces, this JLC Memovox will be a conversation piece on your wrist. Besides the chance to explain how it works and demonstrate its alarm complication, you can also fill someone in on a little bit of its personal history thanks to the paper trail it comes with – in the form of the original box and paperwork.
This JLC Memovox is currently listed for $4,500.