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Jaeger Lecoultre Master Control Memovox Timer: An in-depth and on the wrist review.

amanico
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After a first introduction made some weeks ago, let's come back to the new Memovox, called Master Control Memovox, and most specially the Memovox Timer,   now that I could test it for some ten days. 

Indeed, the press files and official pictures are not accurate enough to give a faithful idea or perception of a watch. You really need to see it, and better, to feel it, before any final  or complete judgement. 

So let's discover this new Memovox in the details, now. 

1/ THE HISTORICAL RELEVANCE: 

The good question is to try to know if the choice of another blue dial has some historical relevance or just follows the " blue trend " we can see on the market these last years. 

Let's immediately kill the suspense, and say that if Blue has become very " trendy ",  it also has, when it comes to Jaeger Lecoultre, an historical background, especially for the Memovox. 

Indeed, Jaeger Lecoultre made several blue dialed Memovox from the late 60's and 70's. 

Here are those I could take in picture. 

- The E 855 and its famous scale blue dial: 

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- The E 872 and its funky TV Screen Shape from the early 70's:

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- The E 873 and its cushion case:

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- The more classic E 875 with its typical applied JL at 9 o' clock:

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- The E 876, another funky Memovox: 

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- The Lecoultre 3072:

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- The Polaris II Ref E 870 didn't escape to the blue dial. It also existed with a grey and a red dial.

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- We had to wait till the early 2000's to see a new Blue Memovox, the Master Compressor Memovox in platinum, limited to 250 pieces.

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- In 2016, we had the Master Memovox Boutique Edition, limited to 500 pieces: 

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And a last one I would include here, The Master Grande Memovox which is the combination of a Memovox and a Perpetual Calendar, in platinum here, limited to 250 pieces, in 2001: 

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50 years of Blue Memovoxes, from the E 875 to the Memovox Timer, without forgetting the Memovox Boutique Edition from 2016:

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You counted well, that makes 10 former blue versions, and I didn't even include the partially blue dials... So yes, we can say that Blue is a traditional color for Jaeger Lecoultre. 

There is another watch I have to mention, here, as we are reviewing the Memovox Timer, the Memovox Parking, because both have in common something, a kind of reminder of the time which remains before an event happens. The Memovox Parking has a Parking Meter indication you can manually set up to two hours before the alarm warns you that your parking time is over. 

The Memovox Parking, reference 3161 or E 856, introduced in the catalog in 1958 ( Jubilée year ). 

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More appropriate, as a comparison, than the other reference, the Memovox International, Ref 3160, from the same year. Here you have to do the maths to know what is th time all around the world.

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The Memovox Timer is the child of the Memovox Parking and one of these Blue Memovoxes with a date, without forgetting the Master Memovox from 1998 for the long triangular applied indices, and the see through case back ( which was unique till the Memovox Timer ).

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Now that we saw the " héritage " of the Memovox Timer, let's focus on it. 

2/ THE CASE: 

The modern Memovox, since its birth in 1998, came in different diameters: 36 mm, 38, 5 mm, and 40 mm from 2010 and its reintroduction in the catalogue. 

The Memovox Timer has a revisited case. It has the same diameter as the former one ( 40 mm ), but much less thick, with " only " 12, 39 mm, to be compared to the height of the former Memovox Boutique 2016 Edition which was... 14, 08 mm high. 

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The Memovox Boutique Edition from 2016: 

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The other detail which jumps to the eyes is the generous bevel on the lugs. A more discreet detail is the satined case side, contrasting with the polished bezel and lugs.

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The issue with the former Memovoxes is that, with time passing, its size increased, and it lost the natural elegance and balance of the original model and its 36 mm case. At 38, 5 mm it was still ok. At 40 mm , the case started to look outdated. 

With the new Memovox and Memovox Timer, this issue is solved, now. The case gains in balance and class in its proportions.

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The other good news is the reappearance of the see through case back. I am not a big fan of see through case backs, but here, there is something to see, the hammer in action when the alarm rings. 

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The choice of a see through case back has a logical consequence: The gong is now attached to the case, not to the case back, on the new Memovox.

 3/ THE DIAL: 

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We used to say that the dial is the soul of a watch. It is the first part you see in a watch, when you discover it. And here, Jaeger Lecoultre gives two different expressions of the Memovox. One, the Master Control Memovox, is a classic in its kind, timeless, sober, understated and elegant.

Jaeger Lecoultre pushed the refinement on a higher step, with some subtle but efficient changes like the longer and slimmer applied triangular indices and the sunburst decoration of the dial.

The Master Control Memovox, 2020 Edition: 

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With the Memovox Timer, you add a cool factor to elegance. This dial catches the light, plays with it. First because of its sunburst blue finishing, whose hue is changing with the light conditions, then because of its polished applied indices, and, cherry on the cake, because of its superb alarm disc, which is engraved, giving a matte aspect contrasting with the rest of the dial AND with the polished alarm hours applied on it.

The front part of the Dauphine hands is brushed one side, polished on the other side.

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Another point which has to be mentioned, the minutes and the alarm ring, treated in a lighter blue, offering a pleasant shading. Something we already saw on the Memovox Boutique Edition from 2016: 

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I would say that the Memovox Timer has a more refined dial while the Memovox Boutique Edition plays the card of coolness with its different dial finishings ( grained /sunburst ), its baton hands and its rectangular applied indices. 

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As you can also see, the white date window is not matching with the dial. A tradition for Jaeger Lecoultre and their blue Memovoxes, as you could see in the historical part of this article.

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To be complete, on both of the revisited Memovox from this year, Jaeger Lecoultre kept on opting for luminous dots, hands and alarm triangle.

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4/ THE MOVEMENT:

The Cal 956 has a power reserve of 45 hours, made of 268 parts and 23 jewels.

It has been inaugurated with the Tribute to Polaris, in 2008, and then housed in the Master Memovox since 2010 till now. 

The big advantage of the Cal 956 is that it offers a quick set of the date, which was not the case with the former alarm movement, the Cal 918. Indeed, with the Cal 918, you had to go forward and backward between 10 PM and 3 AM to set the date, which was pretty fastidious. 

The Cal 956 offers a date, of course, but it also exists without date, as it is the case with the Tribute To Deep Sea Alarm, which is the only exception, to date.

For this new Memovox, Jaeger Lecoultre redesigned the rotor, as you can see here. 

Before: 

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Now: 

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On  dressy watches, such as the Master Memovox, the oscillating weight is in gold, while on the sporty models such as the Master Compressor Navy SEALs Alarm, the weight is made of heavy metal, a blend of Tungsten ( 90 % ), Copper and Nickel.

I regret that Jaeger Lecoultre didn't decide to upgrade this movement like they did with some  new Master Control such as the Date, or the Calendar, with the silicon escapement and 70 hours of autonomy, though... But I am sure some technical improvements will see the light one day or another.

5/ THE TIMER: 

Obviously, Jaeger Lecoultre took the inspiration of the Memovox Parking, ref 3161 or E 856, for the Memovox Timer. Indeed, they both work the same way. 

Memovox Timer and Memovox Parking, Ref 3161:

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With the upper crown, which you turn backward, you set the alarm at the time you want it to chime. The inner disk moves, while turning the crown. The Parking tells you how much parking time remains before sounding and warning you that your parking time is over. With the Timer, you have a 12 hours countdown, not just 2 hours countdown:

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At the difference of the Memovox Parking, the Memovox Timer has a JL red tipped hand which tells you how much time is remaining. In the picture above, 8 hours.

On the Memovox Parking, this is the hour hand which tells you how much time is remaining, once it reaches the 2 hours of the alarm disc. On the side by side picture above, for example, the hour hand will have to reach 4 o'clock before giving you the countdown. 

In the Memovox Timer, the JL red tipped alarm hand is coupled to the hour hand, and moves with it. So, the concept is the same, but more sophisticated with the Memovox Timer, while the Parking is funnier.

6/ MY FEELINGS DURING THE ON THE WRIST TEST: 

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The best way to write a review on a watch is to have the opportunity to test it for several days. The Memovox is one of my favorite families in the Jaeger Lecoultre Universe and I know them quite well. So I was curious and impatient to evaluate this " Timer ", to judge its pros and cons, which I will elaborate now.

- The Memovox Timer provides an indisputable perception of quality.

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The two new Memovox are well made. The case is more homogeneous in its proportions, more refined, more elegant. The dials are a step above compared to the former references, too. Its thinner and longer applied triangles, the sunburst dials, the grained disc of the timer, the blue hue are a feast for the eyes and the mind. I would have preferred the Timer without  date, truth to be told, and with an applied " 3 ", instead, or, if the date was at that point mandatory, at least with a matching background ( blue for the Timer ), but it is not a deal breaker for me.

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The Calibre 956 is nicely decorated and industrially finished. Nothing exceptional in terms of finishings, but pleasant to see. And Jaeger Lecoultre opted for a new  open rotor, in gold. Mechanically speaking, the power reserve of 45 hours is ok, but I would have, of course, preferred the new improvements we saw in the Master Control Date and Calendar from this year, with a power reserve of 70 hours. Later, maybe? 

There is a good thing and a bad thing about this movement. 

The bad thing is that it takes one hour for the date to change. It starts around midnight to end around 1 AM. 

The good thing is that at the contrary of the former versions, the alarm doesn't rattle  when you shake it or when you move your wrist, or much less, at least.  

The accuracy is good. The " Timer " ran 4 seconds too fast per day, which is good enough for me. 

Winding both the movement and the alarm is another pleasant experience, both crowns being very smooth. To be precise, the alarm has a power reserve of 17 seconds, which is the same I measured on the former versions, Tribute to Polaris and Deep Sea Alarm included. 

As for the alarm sound, it chimes less high, but richer than the former, I would say more... Crystalline. 

All in all, the quality has been improved in a perceptible way, with two reserves, the passage of the date, too long, and the longer power reserve which is not present, yet... 

- Is the Memovox Timer a friendly watch? 

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Curious question, as the alarm can indisputably be considered as a friendly complication," per se ". Personally, this is the horological complication I use the most, to wake me up or to remind me of some important events, and it is much more poetic than using the alarm of your cell phone. 

What about the timer, now? 

It is friendly in that sense it allows you to know how much time is remaining before the alarm chimes in a blink of an eye, a bit like a world time gives you the time all around the world without having to calculate it.

But... On 99% of the alarm watches, there is an issue... You can only set them for 12 hours. Which means that if it is 8 AM and that you want to set it for 7 AM the day after, it is impossible. It will ring at 7 PM. So, with the timer, you can have a countdown on 12 hours maximum, not on 24 hours. Of course, that would require a modification of the Cal 956, to offer an alarm and the timer on 24 hours, but I find it even more  friendly and meaningful, as it will help you to know if you set the alarm AM or PM.

- Is the Memovox Timer the new " King Of Cool "? 

Jaeger Lecoultre made some watches which qualify for the title of " King of Cool". 

The Tributes to Deep Sea Alarm and Polaris certainly are champions in that domain, and what to say about the Tribute To Reverso 1931 Red?  

The Tribute To Reverso Red I had the pleasure to test during the summer 2012: 

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For me, the Memovox Timer is in the vein of the Tribute to Reverso Red, more than in the league of the Tribute to Deep Sea Alarm or Polaris.

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Indeed, the Memovox Timer and the Reverso Red share the same " Dandy-esque " feeling. Chic cool, elegance, class, but not too formal nor serious / pretentious, and  staying off the beaten paths. 

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The size is perfect, the presence on the wrist is pleasant, the Memovox Timer is the kind of watch you don't feel but which you notice, without being show off. 

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The watch is comfortable to wear, even if I would have preferred the calf strap of the   new " normal " Memovox, in a navy blue hue, rather than this alligator strap, and, as we are at it, a pin buckle which I find more pleasant to wear, but I know some will disagree, here. 

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CONCLUSION: 

I always wait a bit before ending an article on a watch I just tested, for a good reason. I have to digest all the feelings and to take some distance with the watch. 

I noticed that the miss is an important factor when writing an article. 

10 days have passed since I gave the Memovox Timer back to Jaeger-Lecoultre, which allows me to say that this is one of the watches I tested which I miss, along with the Duomètre UTT, the Duomètre Quantième Lunaire Enamel, and the Tribute To Reverso Red. 

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To sum up my feelings, I loved the overall feeling of quality, the look, the sound of the alarm, the comfort, its polyvalence ( casual and formal ), the Timer concept, this blue dial which is much better in real life than on the official pictures. 

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I am less fan of the date, I would have loved a 3 / 6 / 9 / 12 dial configuration, to be honest. I would have been delighted if the Cal 956 had shared the 70 hours power reserve from some of the 2020 novelties, and I would have enjoyed a 24 hours alarm countdown a lot! 

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All these reserves are not deal breakers, for me, though. 

There is only one question, which is more important than the reserves I mentioned... The price... At 16, 200 Euros, even with tax included, I find it is a highly priced watch, which is important to consider at the moment of the decision. 

But don't we say that " when you love, you don't count "? 

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Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,

Best. 

Nicolas

Comments:
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Johnny. September 1st, 2020-01:18
Great in depth review Nicolas... Very detailed and I really liked the history and pictures of the older models. I am sure this new model is very beautiful and to the highest quality but personally I find the dial a bit to busy, there is too much going on especially compared to the boutiq... 
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amanico September 1st, 2020-03:54
I have a slight preference for the Timer, I must say. I didn't find the legibility was a problem on the Timer. See it in the real life, you will check by yourself. Thanks for commenting, my friend.  
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hs111 September 1st, 2020-02:58
Superb read !.. Very much in depth review and splendid pics, as always.. Actually I like it, a lot, but the price level is quite steep.. Nevertheless,.. .. I will go and try to have a hands on experience at my Boutique,( although I guess it will be tough to get one, anyway). My only Sorry is -as also mentioned by you - the rather short power reserve, 70 would have been great ! The date is no deal breaker ... 
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amanico September 1st, 2020-03:56
The hammer is moving very quickly, that's impressive. As for the power reserve yes, a longer one would be better and welcome. Thanks, H.  No message body
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hoseachandra September 1st, 2020-05:43
Nico, you mention that the alarm chimes lower. Do you mean the volume is lower (compared to the previous edition), or the "note" is lowered, but same volume?
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amanico September 1st, 2020-08:47
No, the volume is a tad lower, but the note is richer.  
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hoseachandra September 1st, 2020-15:53
Great, many thanks, my friend  
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amanico September 1st, 2020-23:08
Sebi took a sound file, he will try to post it.  
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Sebi September 2nd, 2020-12:22
The link to the audio is around the bottom of the thread!  
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amanico September 2nd, 2020-12:47
Thanks for that, Seb.  
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Chronometre a Resonance 20 Years Retrospective Exhibition in Geneva

ChristianDK
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From Tuesday, September 1.st to Friday September 4.th, there is a respective exhibition of the Chronometre a Resonance on display, at the F.P. Journe Manufacture, in Geneva. The exhibition will be accessible to the public during this period. This year marks the 20 th anniversary of the Chronometre a Resonance.


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