Honestly, it’s bound to happen once you’ve started collecting watches. For me it happened two years in. My first two years were spent reading and lusting over Rolex, Panerai, and Omega. And then one day, a single video started me down the rabbit hole of vintage watches.
It was a quick video on the internet of a vintage wrist alarm – specifically the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox. I was blown away that a vintage timepiece that was first released in 1950 could feature such an interesting complication. A mechanical alarm complication often uses a separate mainspring to make the watch buzz and vibrate at the designated time.
Having been called by the voice of memory (the literal translation of Memovox), I began my research. As there have been dozens of different Memovox models produced between 1950 and today, I had to first select my desired model.
In the mid 1960s, the E855 Jumbo Memovox was produced. This was the model that hit all of the notes I was looking for:
- An alarm function
- Jumbo sizing at 37mm which is modest by today’s standards but wears a bit large for its size
- A date complication
- A Steel case
- A bumper-automatic movement
This quest took nearly a year of searching watch forums, chrono24, ebay, etc. I finally struck gold in April of 2015 when I saw one pop up for sale on Reddit. When you finally find that specific model you want, you have to act quickly. In my case, I was at Disneyworld in Orlando waiting in line for the Star Tours ride. I exchanged messages with the seller as I slowly advanced through the line. By the time I boarded, we had struck a deal. The funds went through right as the boarding doors closed.
Five years later, this watch still receives a lot of wear and a lot of comments when the alarm sounds. Far from a melodious chime, it buzzes with the mechanical wizardry that had to seem futuristic when this was produced in 1966.
With a vintage piece, the chase is almost as fun as the purchase, and this was a fun one for me.