Jaeger LeCoultre is flat out more innovative than any other watchmaker. There, I said it. JLC is a master of marrying heritage with modernity. They never shy away from the avant garde. This titanium Amvox 1 model suited up with Aston Martin in mind is no exception. It is well known that JLC has historically created movements for other brands the likes of the big three: Patek Phillipe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. After this fact sinks in, and one realizes that many of these movements are still employed by these giants of the watch world in modified forms, one cannot help but take a bow.
Focusing on the Amvox 1 Alarm Titanium Limited Edition of 1000 pieces, one sees many design elements from deep inside the JLC genome in full bloom. The partnership of Jaeger LecCoultre with Aston Martin began in 2004 with a steel production model having a glossy black dial. Prior to this, however, JLC provided Aston Martin with automobile clocks and dashboard instruments starting in the 1920s. This partnership has heritage and goes back a long way and as a result, this time piece really takes on the personality of an automobile and channels the spirit of Aston Martin.
This Amvox 1 boasts a well-proportioned 42 mm by 47 mm lightweight titanium case inspired from the 1960s Polaris super compressor case diving alarm watch. The case has a vintage feel with a modern size and elegance. Lean and light as a feather with a big presence.
For those who have not worn a titanium watch, I urge you to try one on. This metal has a completely different sensation on the wrist compared to steel, gold, platinum or ceramic. I personally enjoy the lighter feel of titanium but I know collectors who despise the darker color and the lack of heft. One of the reasons I appreciate titanium is that it shares many of the same biophysical properties as bone. In fact, titanium’s mechanical strength, bending properties, density and mass are almost exactly like human bone, explaining why many orthopedic implants like bone plates and screws, intramedullary rods as well as prostheses are titanium. If one were to have the eccentric idea of fashioning a watch case out of human bone, it would weigh the same as titanium. It is a natural choice for a luxury metal one chooses to strap on a radius and ulna. I have a large wrist and prefer a watch in the 42-44mm range, though I have many smaller watches and love vintage sizes as well. The truth is titanium is simply more comfortable for larger thicker time pieces. A preference or aversion to titanium is personal and can only be gauged by trying it on your own wrist.
Additionally, qualities are also drawn from the classic JLC Memovox design leading to the triple crown layout at 2, 3, and 4 o’clock. In fact the name Amvox is a neologism, as so many watch monikers are, using the “Am” from Aston Martin and the “Vox” from the the ever charming and collectible Memovox. Even though many Memovox models had only two crowns one cannot help but feel this resemblance, and as we will see the movement is based on the Memovox of yesteryear.
There are design flourishes in this limited edition titanium Amvox 1, that really pop. The dial is in a sector pattern with shades of a color referred to as ruthenium. The numerals are in a variably sized Arabic style with the 9, 11, and 1 more diminutive than the other numerals that disperse on the lower dial between four and eight to announce the JLC insignia. This lack of lower dial indices is reminiscent of an Aston Martin dashboard instrument. The playful font is also characteristic JLC hailing back to the Polaris.
The hands are referred to as calypso hands according to JLC. The spark of red enlisted on the second hand provides a subtle burst that adds color to an otherwise sedate dial that cannot decide if it wants to display gradations of gray or brown. I mean this truly as a compliment as this dial color is fascinating in the light and it has a transforming quality few watches can match.
All the crowns carry the JLC signature. The crown at two o’clock sets the alarm which can be set twelve hours in advance when the crown is pulled out and the alarm function is then wound with this crown in the first position. What do you think about a modern mechanical watch having an alarm? It certainly is anachronistic and seems superfluous in a cell phone age, but then again so are watches in general, especially luxury mechanical watches. I use this alarm as an accessory to back up my primary alarm. It helps me to greet the morning with a smile every time I hear it. The charm of this complication is akin to the idea of using a fountain pen in 2018. Old fashioned, not necessary, more work than necessary, yet noticeably idiosyncratic and graceful in the right setting. I also enjoy the slight tinging sound I will occasionally hear with abrupt hand movements.
The crown at three o’clock operates a bidirectional internal bezel and the final crown at four, winds the movement and hacks in position two while the time is being set. There is no quick set date function which may be a deficiency to some, but I enjoy the old school appeal of spinning the lower crown back and forth between nine PM and three Am to set the date.
The case back has fourteen perforations to allow the alarm to resonate and amplify its intensity. The only reference to Aston Martin co-branding is on the case back, which keeps the association subtle and the fact that the Aston Martin logo is not emblazoned on the dial widens the appeal of this watch, in my opinion.
The engine of this piece consists of the 260 part, 22 jewel 918 movement, which is an automatic winding Memovox movement. It has a bidirectional winding rotor and is a high beat JLC in-house alarm movement. This movement hails from 1960s Memovox lines and was upgraded in the 1980s to provide this alarm with quite a sustained and loud tone. With only 5 ATM water resistance, I wold not swim or shower with this watch.
The Amvox 1 titanium alarm comes on a soft calfskin strap with a deployant that is very comfortable and I would add sizeable enough to fit my eight and one quarter inch wrist. I prefer however to wear it on a leather NATO or custom Bund strap. One of my tendencies with any watch I purchase is to immediately remove the stock strap for safe keeping. I then uses a series of my own custom and after-market straps to vary the look. If the watch stops speaking to me after a time or if I have buyer’s remorse the strap remains untouched and gives the watch a more desirable sales appeal. In addition, my wrist is larger than most and most stock straps are too small.
Overall, I am still on a honeymoon with this watch despite owning it for more than two years. I feel JLC has harnessed the best vintage elements from its history with Polaris dive watches and Memovox models in the production of an elegantly modern creation. The alarm function is a rarity in today’s time pieces and JLC executes this complication with excellence. In a world where many companies follow a conservative script, JLC never fails to surprise with a watch that was born outside the box.