Memovox by Jaeger-LeCoultre: The voice of memory keeping time with a family story


Great encounters do not just happen by chance. British actress and director, Carmen Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, and the Manufacture from the Vallée de Joux had a story to share. They decided to make an art project of it that will be revealed at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie on the occasion of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 180th anniversary celebrations.

Carmen Chaplin’s grandfather, Charles Spencer Chaplin, became a legend by bringing to the film world the character known as The Tramp (or Charlot in certain languages), a vagabond with the manners of a gentleman.

Actor, director, producer, screenwriter and composer, he only had one great adversary: “My only enemy is Time”, he often said . Was it to support him in this battle that the country of watchmaking presented him with a timepiece in 1953? A Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox…

When his family settled in Switzerland, the government wished to give a welcome present to this great man whose talent made its mark on History. Charles Spencer Chaplin received a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, featuring a back engraved with the words: Hommage du gouvernement Vaudois à Charlie Chaplin – 6 octobre 1953 (A tribute from the government of the Canton of Vaud to Charlie Chaplin – October 6th 1953).

Memovox. The voice of memory …
For Jaeger-LeCoultre, learning of the existence of this historic piece from Carmen Chaplin seemed like a gift of fate.
Involved in a broad-ranging partnership with various major cinematographic events (Venice Film Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival), the Manufacturer decided to celebrate the memory of Charlie Chaplin and his watch by asking Carmen Chaplin to direct a short film on the theme of time.

The idea was very appealing to the young actress and filmmaker: “I love antique watches s and the idea that they have a past and a story to tell. Watches from the Twenties and their retro style speak to me of an era when certain tiny watches were mainly jewellery creations. Imagining there was a mechanism as precise as a heart-beat behind these tiny dials fascinates me”.

“I am intrigued by the fact that they have been ticking steadily for more than a century. My grandfather’s watch particularly moves me, because he gave it to my father, Michael Chaplin, his son, when he turned 14. Then my dad gave it to my mum as proof of their love on their wedding day. It was a real good-luck charm because they have been in love now for 45 years”.

This was doubtless the reason that Carmen decided to act in this art film alongside her mother and her daughter, Uma.

Three generations of women from the same family to illustrate the idea of transmission, the passing of time and inheritance.

“I had complete artistic freedom in making this film project that pays tribute to time, to the passing of time which inevitably carries off something of ourselves with it. I love the idea that we leave part of our soul in the objects that we have loved. What could be a better present than the gift of a cherished watch or piece of jewellery? I really enjoyed my visit to the Manufacture for the restoration of my grandfather's watch. I was fascinated by the amazing craftsmanship of the teams. We had already undertaken some projects with Jaeger-LeCoultre, such as organising a dinner in tribute to my grandfather’s Honorary Oscar in Los Angeles, as attending the Cannes Film Festival then the Venice Film Festival, or when shooting my latest film in which a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch plays a ‘role’. I was honoured that Jaeger-LeCoultre in trusted me with this film in the context of their anniversary”.

Carmen Chaplin’s A Time For Everything will premiere at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, from January 21st to 25th 2013.

While Charlie Chaplin’s Memovox still keeps time for his family, his long list of artistic works punctuate the 20th century. Thus, to celebrate the 180th year anniversary of the Manufacture created in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre, Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to make this emblematic watch one of the icons of its watchmaking heritage. It will be exhibited as it rightfully deserves at the heart of the Salon, together with other masterpieces.

Throughout its existence, timepieces as legendary as the Reverso, the Memovox, the Géophysic, the Atmos, the Duomètre and many others have been created in the Vallée de Joux. More than 1,200 calibres have been perfected and 400 patents registered. How many people today wear a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch that belonged to a father or grandfather? What better example of family transmission is there than the passage of a watch from one wrist to another, through the generations? Like a symbol of eternity…

“A Time For Everything”
Written and directed by Carmen Chaplin
With Carmen Chaplin, Patricia Chaplin and Uma Chaplin Bhalla
Produced by Kwanon Films and Mann & Miller