Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin: innovative traditions - part 2
The historical partnership between Jaeger-LeCoultre and British sports car maker Aston Martin reached a new level when they launched their first technical innovation in 2006, which was also as creative as always!
After a skillful reissue of the legendary Memovox, Jaeger-LeCoultre revolutionized watchmaking by coming up with the AMVOX2 Chronograph; a piece without pushers.
2006, the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX2 Chronograph
While it was only in the first half of the 20th century that chronographs with two independent pushers were launched, the Swiss manufacture decided that it would just do without them. The case of this watch was more sober. The technicians of the Grande Maison wanted to design a watch that could be handled as easily as starting an Aston Martin car – that is, by pressing the start button.
The chronograph function was thus controlled simply pressing on the sapphire glass to make the case tip. The driver only had to press the area at 12 o'clock to start and stop the chronograph, and the area at 6 o'clock to reset the chronograph to zero.
Intuitive and user friendly, the system was based on a complex mechanism made up of levers fitted on a miniature stainless steel rolling that ensured the case and bezel both pivoted together in proportion to the watch's lugs. It could be seen through an opening cut on the lower part of the dial and its red color evoked the brake calipers of the Aston Martin. The system, which was a first in watchmaking, was filed for different patents. A three-position selector placed on the side of the case helped to lock the chronograph or only the zero-resetting function to avoid accidental releases. The new automatic 751B caliber offered a comfortable two-barrel, 65-hour power reserve.
The satiny silver dial featured the same design as the AMVOX1 but it also boasted a 30-minute as well as a 12-hour totalizer. Once again, Jaeger-LeCoultre forewent the traditional hand counters and opted for white luminous rotating disks.
There are countless references to the car universe; for example, the crown is in the shape of a fuel tank cap, the dial center evokes a brake disk and the calfskin strap is carbonized. The AMVOX2 Chronograph was issued in limited editions of 250 platinum pieces (ref 192T470 and 500 titanium pieces (ref 192T440).
The AMVOX2 Chronograph in short:
Year: 2006 // Case: 44 mm x 15.10 mm, platinum (250 pieces) or titanium (500 pieces), water resistant to 50 m // Caliber: self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre 751B, 28,800 vph frequency, 39 rubies, 65-hour power reserve // Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, and date.
In 2009, the AMVOX2 Chronograph Racing commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Aston Martin DBR1 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori. In the same year, the British car maker joined the premier class LMP1 endurance category with the Aston Martin B09/60 prototype. This “competition” version was available in two 100-piece limited editions – black PVD-coated titanium pieces that featured a black dial with white luminous numerals (ref Q192T400) as well as titanium pieces with a white dial and black numerals (ref Q192T430).
It, too, featured multiple references to Gulf's colors – the main sponsor of Aston Martin Racing – in the levers of the anodized aluminum chronograph, the central seconds hand and the calfskin leather-lined strap. The two small counters were in carbon fiber, a material also used in the body of the prototype. The minute counters featured a checkered flag motif and had the mentions “1959 – 2009” inscribed on the caseback.
The AMVOX2 Chronograph Racing:
Year: 2009 // Case: 44 mm x 15.10 mm, titanium (100 pieces) or black PVD-coated titanium (100 pieces), water resistant to 50 m // Caliber: self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre 751E, 28,800 vph frequency, 41 rubies, 65-hour power reserve // Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, and date.
2008, the Jaeger-LeCoultre, AMVOX2 DBS Transponder
With the AMVOX2 DBS Transponder, Jaeger-LeCoultre pushed the barriers of innovation even further by creating the first ever mechanical watch equipped with remote control access to a car. While the AMVOX2 chronograph revolutionized watchmaking with its touch-sensitive case, it must be said that in terms of watchmaking technique, this was a more remarkable step forward.
Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX2 DBS Transponder
Introduced in 2008, the watch (ref Q1922430) was specially designed for the new standard bearer of the British brand – the DBS, which was the car assigned to James Bond 007 in Casino Royale. The owner could lock and unlock the car remotely simply by pressing OPEN – between 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock – and CLOSE – between 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock – on the sapphire glass. To top it off, pressing both touch-sensitive zones at the same time would switch on the car's headlights to help to find the car more easily in a parking lot (this was known as the "FIND ME" system). It was a James Bond-like instrument that worked within a 10-meter distance.
This technological prowess took ten months to develop. The components of the transponder were miniaturized to fit in the space of the Jaeger-LeCoultre 751E caliber. Shaped like the flange, the 128-mm long metallized antenna transmitter was installed on the inner surface of the sapphire glass. The module was twice as small as the key of a DBS. It goes without saying that the chronograph was only reserved to the owners of DBS cars and only Aston Martin distributors were authorized to configure them.
The AMVOX2 DBS Transponder sported every significant visual element of the AMVOX collection.
The 44-mm 18K pink gold case (ref 192243A) was thicker than its predecessors (16.35 mm) and it came with an elegant black perforated calfskin bracelet. The initialism DBS was suspended at the center of the skeletonized dial. As a renewed version of the 751B, the 751E was equipped with the same features – double barrels, column wheels and a ceramic ball-bearing rotor.
There was also a version intended for the general public that did not feature the “remote control access” function. It was named the AMVOX2 Chronograph DBS and it was produced in a limited series of 200 platinum pieces (ref 1926450); 300 18K pink gold pieces (ref 1922450) and 999 grade 5 titanium pieces (ref 192T450).
In 2009, Jaeger Lecoultre adapted this technological beauty to the brand's new limousine with the AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder (ref Q1922430). In 2010, it was adapted to the DB9 coupé.
The AMVOX2 Chronograph in short:
Year: 2008 // Case: 44 mm X 16.35 mm, 18K pink gold, water resistant to 50 m
Caliber: self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre 751E, 28,800 vph frequency, 41 rubies, 65-hour power reserve // Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date.
2008, the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX3 Tourbillon GMT
The AMVOX3 Tourbillon GMT by Jaeger-LeCoultre was an Haute Horlogerie piece. Though this third model sported the aesthetic and stylistic codes of the previous pieces, it also conferred the AMVOX collection the prestige of having a tourbillon combined with a GMT complication. The AMVOX3 was armed with three exclusive new features – a ceramic case, a tourbillon and a patented high-tech oscillating mass.
The ceramic of the case was made of yttrium and zirconium oxide that was heated over 2000°C in order to ensure it was highly shock-resistant, light and robust. The high-tech case housed the self-winding Jaeger-LeCoutre 988 caliber made of 313 components. The particularity of the hand-indicated date was that it made a leap between the 31st and the 1st so that the rotating tourbillon inside a titanium carriage was not hidden from view. The manufacturer based in Le Sentier also equipped the AMVOX Tourbillon GMT with the exclusive oscillating mass that was initially designed for the Master Compressor Extreme LAB, with platinum-iridium alloy segments and carbon fiber arms that guaranteed better winding performance. It was visible through the sapphire glass, which was an unprecedented feature in the collection.
The AMVOX 3 was produced in two limited series of 300 pieces in ceramic/18K pink gold (ref. 193C450) and 300 pieces in ceramic/platinum 950 (ref. 193K450).
The AMVOX3 Tourbillon GMT in short:
Year: 2008 // Case: 44 mm X 15.10 mm, ceramic/18K pink gold or ceramic/platinum 950, water resistant to 50 m // Caliber: self-winding Jaeger-Lecoultre 988, 28,800 vph frequency, 35 rubies, 48-hour power reserve // Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, tourbillon, date, second time zone, AM/PM indication
Read part 1, part 3 of this article coming soon