The watch became popular with white-collar workers but the maison decided to slowly take the Memovox in a different
direction. A few short years after its initial launch, the Memovox was upgraded in 1956 with the automatic Calibre
815 thus making the JLC Memovox the first self-winding alarm wristwatch. No longer requiring manual winding, this
started the shift where the watch became more appealing to sporty individuals and it began to appear on the wrists
of people who favoured outdoor activities. Not for nothing, in the ‘70s, the advertising of the timekeeper read
"Memovox, for the man of action.”
JLC's alarm wristwatch continued to be a major player of its era. Two special pieces were created for the 125th
anniversary of the company, in 1958: the Memovox World Time and the Memovox Parking, which in effect reminded its
user of the time remaining in the parking meter.
This mechanical alarm watch was the starting point of a history that has been perpetuated for 70 years throughout the
assorted collections of the maison. Since its appearance in 1950, the Memovox, in all of its forms, has become a
tool watch suitable for many circumstances, whether in the corporate world or under the mantle with which nature
protects and envelops the most adventurous souls.
An Alarm in Deep Waters
1959 is the year when the Memovox plunges into the water and cements its position as one of the iconic diving watches
of its era with the release of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Deep Sea. Powered by the Caliber 815, it became the
first dive watch equipped with an alarm whose sound – rather, its vibration – was perceived underwater as an
additional safety feature for divers to remind themselves when it is time to resurface.
The Memovox Deep Sea arrived at a time (the 1950’s) when the world was passionate about exploration, whether that’d
be underwater or in orbit. The Space Race was all the rage between the United States and Soviet Union, Jacques-Yves
Cousteau – the most famous diver ever – wins an Oscar and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his
underwater documentary “The Silent World,” and the Rolex Submariner, Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms, and the Breitling
Superocean all see the light of day.
In the Memovox Deep Sea, Jaeger-LeCoultre puts the unique alarm mechanism into a water resistant wristwatch. Therein
lay the opportunity to bring an innovation into the world of dive watches, like no one had thought of before.
Therefore, nearly a decade later, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Memovox finally arrived in 1968. The idea for this
watch was born in 1962 from a deep-sea marine expedition, while the name “Polaris” originated in the United States
in 1965, as an evocation of the adventurous spirit and a link with the deep sea.
The Polaris Memovox is a dive watch, with an internal rotating bezel, hour, minutes and central running seconds; date
and last but not least, the Memovox alarm mechanism. What this meant for dive watches, is that now, you didn’t
necessarily have to keep looking down at your dive bezel, to keep track of elapsed time under watch any longer. You
had the alarm function of the Polaris Memovox to remind you of elapsed time. As innovative as it was for its time,
the Polaris Memovox had a remarkable triple caseback system that increased the volume of the alarm under water and
prevented its sound from being muffled by the diving suit. The 1968 Memovox Polaris is the official forefather of
the modern Polaris, hence the 50th anniversary celebration in 2018 and the launch of the well-rounded and affordable
As forward thinking as the watch was in the realm of dive watches, the watch was unfortunately conceived right as the
Quartz Crisis lay around the corner. Production of the Polaris Memovox was, as such, ceased in 1969.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Tribute To Deep Sea
The original Memovox Deep Sea was the brand's first real dive watch and it is accepted that only 1,061 pieces were
made of it. Needless to say that finding an original Memovox Deep Sea would prove extremely difficult, let alone
expensive as recent auction results have shown.
To satisfy the thirst of collectors for vintage diving watches, and to also pay homage to the brand’s innovative
history in the field of dive watches, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea as a limited series
of timepieces in 2011.
JLC pretty much preserved the original Memovox Deep Sea aesthetics. The most notable change was obviously the
movement, which in the Tribute is the tried-and-proven Jaeger-LeCoultre 956 (with 45-hour power reserve). The
movement retains the famous two crowns, one for setting the time and the other for the alarm.
Interestingly, two versions of the Tribute were released to the market: a cleaner looking dial destined for the
European market with the full brand name “Jaeger-LeCoultre” written on the dial (limited edition of 959 pieces),
while the second version features a dial meant for the US market with only “LeCoultre” written on it (limited
edition of 359 pieces). The reason for that is linked to the brand’s history as well. In the past, JLC was not
allowed to use the “Jaeger-LeCoultre” name in the US for intellectual property reasons, and it is only later that
the maison obtained the rights to use its full name in the US.
These Memovox “Tributes” come in a 40.5 mm steel case (water resistant to 100 metres) , just a hair larger than the
original 1959 timepiece at 40mm. Likewise, it kept the black dial with discrete markings in yellow, rotating bezel
with white numbers and yellow 15-minute markers and plexiglas front dome.
The present model we are listing via our partnership with Watchfinder features the cleaner European dial. The curved
brand signage lurks stealthily at 12 o’clock and comes as a full set with box and papers. All in all, the Tribute to
Deep Sea is a handsome re-issue of the original divers watch with mechanical alarm from 1959 and provides collectors
with the opportunity to own a modern robust timepiece with a link to one of the most iconic dive watches.
Please see here for the full