The Memovox Deep Sea needs no introduction. More than any other, this avant-garde achievement wrote one of the first chapters in the history of scuba diving. Right from the appearance of this new sports discipline in the 1950s, Jaeger-LeCoultre provided the first explorers of the ocean depths – whether driven by scientific goals or by a thirst for discovery – with a timepiece that exceeded their demands. Through the different versions introduced until the early 1970s, the Memovox Deep Sea became one of the rare watchmaking creations to leave an indelible imprint on its era. Eager to offer an audience of devotees and connoisseurs the opportunity to strap to their wrist one of the symbols of its inexhaustible inventiveness, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre offers some remarkable reinterpretations of this legendary watch. The impressive success of the model unveiled in 2011 encouraged the Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux to pursue this path.
2012 sees the introduction of a new water-resistant watch inspired by the Memovox Deep Sea: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph.
Its lines express great historical loyalty and testify to its proud sporting heritage. Featuring a 40.5 mm case size similar to that of the Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea, this model is endowed with a range of characteristics that are bound to thrill connoisseurs.
A fixed bezel surrounds a classic black dial face, protected by a Plexiglas watch glass. The hour-markers as well as the central hour and minute hands are covered by a Superluminova coating with a warm orange-tinted shade subtly reminiscent of the luminescent coating on the 1959 Memovox Deep Sea. The time intervals measured by the two-button chronograph are indicated by two counters for the hours and minutes, positioned at 9 and 3 o’clock, as well as by the central seconds hand. The back of the stainless steel case also bears the same engraved motif as the historical model, depicting a frogman surrounded by bubbles. Finally, the embossed black calfskin leather strap looks exactly like the one fitted on the original.
While the case of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph is inspired by the design codes of an iconic creation, this watch driven by Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 751G incorporates the latest developments stemming from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ongoing research, such as the large variable-inertia balance, or the ceramic ball bearings ensuring lubricant-free long-term operation. The performance, the endurance and the reliability of the Jaeger-LeCoultre mechanism have proven their worth over the years, and are combined with qualities highlighting the historical legitimacy of a watch that is water-resistant to 100 metres. The latest creation from the Grande Maison in the Vallée de Joux is thus bound to thrill devotees of legendary models wishing to pay tribute to a longstanding tradition of innovation in the most diverse disciplines, yet without foregoing the comfort and reliability ensured by the latest generation of Jaeger-LeCoultre calibres.
Deep Sea – a legendary watch
In the 1950s, no standard had yet been established, laying down the criteria to be met by diver’s watches. There was not yet any question of unidirectional rotating bezels, of resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, nor of 100-metre guaranteed watertightness. The field was still wide open. It was nonetheless quite obvious that the hands and hour-markers should be coated with a luminescent substance, which meant radium at the time, in order to facilitate reading the indications in dim light, but there were no legal terms protecting the use of the term “diver’s watch”.
This lack of regulation nonetheless harboured many dangers, since an exceptionally reliable timepiece was in fact indispensable for the practice of this activity. Divers had to be able to ensure at all times that they had a sufficient oxygen supply in their bottles in order to programme the various decompression stages involved in returning to the surface. The readability of the information was thus of crucial importance, and the Memovox Deep Sea already featured such an extremely clear dial that its intuitively obvious layout continues to meet divers’ most stringent demands. However, since the notion of time is sometimes relative for those gliding through the heart of the amazing underwater world, Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmakers already conceived the idea, in the very infancy of diver’s watches, of equipping the Memovox Deep Sea with the emblematic Memovox alarm function. They offered enthusiasts of this new sport an additional safety feature in the form of a complementary audible alarm in order to signal to divers that it was time to begin their progress return to the surface. This distinctive characteristic and its extraordinary reliability sealed the triumph of the Memovox Deep Sea, and its original edition was soon sold out. After that, only a few collectors could enjoy the privilege of contemplating this legendary watch.
Nonetheless, the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre, always keen to ensure that its creations do not remain confined within the walls of a museum, and to give contemporary watch enthusiasts access to the countless inventions punctuating its long history, succumbed to the appeals emanating from circles of aficionados calling for a rebirth of this historical timepiece. In 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre thus unveiled a faithful re-edition of the original Memovox Polaris 1968. This journey back to its roots continued in 2011 with the re-edition of the legendary 1959 Memovox Deep Sea, the first diver’s watch to feature an alarm.
This creation brilliantly interpreted the aesthetic purity of the historical model into order to convey through a contemporary design language entirely in harmony with the exceptional technical performances of its movement. Its launch in 2011 was unanimously well received by passionate enthusiasts of the timepieces that have written a chapter in the history of horology and of human adventure.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Vintage Chronograph: technical characteristics
• mechanical automatic movement, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 751G crafted, assembled and decorated by hand
• 28,800 vibrations per hour
• 37 jewels
• 5.72 mm thick
• 235 parts
• 65-hour power reserve
• hour, minute, chronograph seconds, minutes, hours
• chronograph with hour and minute counters and central sweep seconds hand
• matt black
• hands and hour-markers featuring “Tropic” coloured superluminova
• 40.5 mm in diameter
• plexiglass watch glass
• water resistance : 10 bar
• black leather with steel pin buckle