It was almost 20 years ago... Time passes, watches and memories remain.
The partnership between Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre was one of the most memorable for me.
It was coherent in terms of image, but also in terms of innovation and technology. For me, this rapprochement was rather logical, as these two great houses had common values: a "rather" well finished product, a certain nobility of the engines and mechanics, an in-house manufacturing, a clever mix of tradition and modernity, a certain fragility too...
Moreover, these common points were reinforced by the fact that the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre had crossed, in the past, that of the automobile since Jaeger had indeed an automobile and avionics instrumentation division, which led the manufacture to equip numerous automobile brands. Indeed, from the beginning of the 20th century, speedometers and other instruments stamped Jaeger were found in the dashboards of the first racing cars and some sedans.
In other words, there was everything to make a nice marriage between the automobile and watchmaking.
As an Aston and Jaeger LeCoultre enthusiast, I was happy to hear about this partnership, which began in 2004 and gave birth to a line of watches, the AMVOX collection for Aston Martin Memovox, before ending in 2010.
For me, the AMVOX line has cultivated a real singularity in the landscape of fine watchmaking and brand partnerships, with its own identity, undeniable charm and subtle allusions to both worlds: a dial inspired by cars dashboards with large numerals and indexes inclined at 270 degrees, covered with blue luminescent material, luminescent hands, a central motif sometimes evoking a radiator grill, sometimes an engine, a running indicator and, on the chronograph versions, two totalizers with discs like steering wheel paddles as well as an opening to the complex chronograph mechanism reminiscent of the brake calipers of British racing cars...
The parallel between these two worlds does not end there, since, as for the Aston Martins whose assembly was carried out in Gaydon, the AMVOX ”engines” were all manufacture calibers entirely conceived, assembled and decorated by hand in the workshops of the "Grande Maison".
Another similarity is that both the Aston and the AMVOX had to undergo a thorough quality control before being handed over to their owners. For Jaeger LeCoultre, this took the form of the famous "1000-hour test", which included several tests of regularity and resistance to shocks, temperature and magnetic fields...
Finally, the ultimate luxury was found in a certain discretion because, if the logo of the two manufactures were engraved on the back of each watch, the marks were rather discreet on the dials, which testifies for me to a true English refinement...
From the beginning I loved the AMVOX line.
The challenge was particularly difficult to meet, as demonstrated by the many co-branded products to be classified as aesthetic horrors... even if I admit it, taste is a really personal matter.
I remember knowing about this partnership in 2004, when Aston Martin launched its DB9 in July.
However, to see the first AMVOX, it was necessary to wait several months since the first watch resulting from the partnership was only unveiled in April 2005: it was the AMVOX 1 Alarm.
Its discovery was a real shock for the unconditional Polaris fan that I was.
For me, Jaeger LeCoultre had succeeded in creating a real link between the iconic Memovox Polaris from 1965 and modernity. I found the bet successful, perhaps even more than for Aston Martin, since the DB9 launched months earlier had, in the end, very little in common with the iconic DB5...
The reinterpretation of the 1965 Memovox Polaris, THE heritage watch of the Manufacture (Not to say a collectible 😉), drove me crazy: I was immediately a fan of this watch as soon as I saw it and completely won over when I put it on my wrist.
A diameter of 42 mm, a perfectly balanced watch with its case inspired by the mythical compressor of the 60's, its particularly well inspired lugs and its famous three crowns (Crown at 2 o'clock for the setting of the alarm time and winding - Crown at 3 o'clock to control the rotating inner bezel - Crown at 4 o'clock for the setting of the time and date).
Random or happy coincidence, I do not know. However, the year 2005 was the 40th anniversary of the iconic Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris diver and the arrival of this AMVOX 1 was quite a celebration.
I dreamed at the time of a reissue of the Polaris... before my wish was granted a few years later.
I have to admit that I had a great time with this Amvox 1 when I discovered it.
Beyond its timeless, sober and classic design and the different versions of AMVOX 1, in particular the one in titanium (a first use for Jaeger LeCoultre) with a ruthenium dial (a color normally reserved for platinum watches), my personal taste naturally directed me towards the steel model with it’s black dial...
And what a dial!
I found the layout of the large white numbers and indexes, inclined at 270 degrees and covered with blue luminescent material, perfectly coherent.
This evocation of the old Jaeger tachometers and the one of the Aston DB9 dashboard was great.
And what can I say about the alarm time indication, immediately identifiable, shifted with a luminescent white, as a wink to the automotive gauges.
Some people will tell me that the "calypso" / "Snake" minute hand is an incongruity with regard to the codes of the automotive world or that the length of this hand is excessive...
Of course, this is not wrong, but personally it is a little flaw that I love. I was delighted to find it on the AMVOX 2 and more particularly on the AMVOS 2 DBS which makes a nice pair with the AMVOX 1 in steel, even if the metal of the case would have deserved to be the same ...
What can I say about the automotive evocation represented by the strap, which is made in the leather of the famous saddlery "Bridge of Weir" that dresses the upholstery of the prestigious Aston Martin coupés and cabriolets.
For my part, I think this idea was great.
Finally, with regard to the AMVOX 1 caliber, it should be remembered that Memovox caliber is one of the rare watchmaking mechanisms that can boast a career spanning more than half a century, and thus regular improvements.
Available in multiple versions, Memovox caliber symbolizes a form of evolution in continuity and is characterized by an astonishing durability, as well as a good reliability.
For the AMVOX1 Alarm, Jaeger-LeCoultre has chosen the caliber 918 (frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, 22 jewels and a power reserve of 45 hours), with automatic winding and an alarm function with its own barrel.
And, appreciable thing, but which can surprise the lovers of Memovox, this watch is not "a cricket", but a true alarm clock with a suspended bell, whose sound is particular because of the use of a specific alloy.
The only small drawback for me would be perhaps the date without quick setting (Point that has been corrected with the caliber 956 found in the Tribute to Polaris)...
In a few words, it is a remarkable watch, sporty and elegant, with an inimitable alarm clock...
I recently came across the brochure and catalog of the time:
To discover it again made me smile...
In 2004 my second daughter was born... Today she has left home...
But I still have my AMVOX 1 at home.
I wish you all an excellent day.