Complete Overview Of The Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox Line

by Elizabeth Doerr

 In 2016, Richard Mille announced it was the new watch partner to carmaker Aston Martin, effectively taking over the spot that Jaeger-LeCoultre had occupied for 12 years.

Which makes this a great time to review the sporty Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox line.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 on the wrist

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 on the wrist

Successfully handling a powerful 12-cylinder Aston Martin Vantage on the racetrack requires absolute precision and know-how. Making a timepiece to reflect this feeling is no less of a feat.

Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre announced their alliance at an event in Paris in September 2004. The reason for this location was twofold: Aston Martin was introducing its Vanquish S model at the Paris Motor Show, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, whose key market is France, has always been exceptionally partial to this city.

Though it might have seemed unlikely, this was not a new association, but rather a refreshed one.

1927 "noblesse oblige" advertisement for Jaeger automobile instruments

1927 advertisement for Jaeger automobile instruments

The preface to this chapter in horological history was written in the 1920s when, thanks to World War I, LeCoultre & Cie in cooperation with Edmond Jaeger began manufacturing counters and dashboard instruments for the most prestigious automobiles of the time — including the renowned 1.5-liter Aston Martin LM, which was a regular winner in international motor racing of the 1930s and whose instruments were simply signed “Jaeger.”

Jaeger automobile instruments from the 1920s

Jaeger automobile instruments from the 1920s

In fact, LeCoultre & Cie equipped 95 percent of competition winners with speedometers during this era.

Jaeger automobile instruments from the 1920s

Jaeger automobile instruments from the 1920s

The renewed partnership went into effect in 2003, Aston Martin’s 90th anniversary.

With the British sports car company aiming at more visibility and accessibility in the new millennium, such an affiliation — the type of which was not yet common between brands in different sectors — was clearly advantageous in aiding to open a new consumer group.

A set of Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvoxes

A set of Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox models

Dr. Ulrich Bez, then-CEO of Aston Martin, which was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, commented at the time, “Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre share many philosophies. Each company has a rich heritage and both are dedicated to producing the finest handcrafted machines in their respective fields. This partnership between Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre is a true celebration of a common goal: perfection.”

Amvox 1 Alarm

The very first press kit called this watch the “Aston Martin Jaeger-LeCoultre Edition.” The Amvox name — an amalgamation of Aston Martin’s initials and the second part of “Memovox” — came a little later when the watch went into delivery in 2005, fittingly the same year that the version of the Memovox upon which the Amvox 1 was based turned 40.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm

Despite the later editions looking a bit more futuristic, the first model displayed a great deal of tradition by anyone’s standards. Its case, though larger than Jaeger-LeCoultre’s usual fare at the time at 42 mm, as well as its functions, were based on the classic Memovox model from 1965.

This alarm watch was powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 918. It had 260 individual parts, including a suspended gong creating a memorable acoustic experience when the set time arrived. The watch’s the solid metal case back was decorated with a special Aston Martin engraving.

Engraved back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm in titanium

Engraved case back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm in titanium

Placing a contemporary twist on a traditional theme, the dial was slightly redesigned to more resemble the instruments found in Aston Martin cars. The watches’ straps were fittingly made of Bridge of Weir leather, the same material found in the interiors of the DB9 as well as the fastest Aston Martin at that time, the Vanquish S V12.

Aston Martin delivered its Vanquish model in very limited numbers: only 200 by the end of 2004 and 300 in 2005.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm in platinum

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 1 Alarm in platinum

At the celebratory event in Paris, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s then-CEO Jérôme Lambert was visibly pleased by the new allegiance, commenting, “Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin share many attributes: beauty, sporting appeal, and refinement. Our relationship is harmony in motion.”

Quick Facts Amvox 1 Alarm / 2004
 
Case: 42 mm, stainless steel (black dial) or limited edition in titanium (ruthenium-grey dial)
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 918
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, alarm
 Limitation: titanium edition of 750 pieces
 Production: 2004–2010
 Pricing in 2005: $8,000 (stainless steel), $8,500 (titanium limited edition)

Quick Facts Amvox 1 R-Alarm / 2004
 
Case: 44 mm, titanium or platinum
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 918
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, alarm
 Limitation: titanium edition of 500 pieces, platinum edition of 150 pieces
 Production: 2004–2010

Amvox 2 Chronograph

The Amvox 2 was an automatic chronograph officially called Chronograph Concept conceived by engineer Francis Cretin. Its Caliber 751B was outfitted with a vertical trigger mechanism that seemed to belong more to the future than the year in which it appeared. At the time, Cretin was so enthusiastic about the invention that it took him only five months to produce a prototype, one he called “an automotive approach to the watchmaking field.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2

A fully mechanical movement, all the owner had to do was press the sapphire crystal bezel down at a certain point and, voilà, the chronograph started. Press it again, and it stopped. A completely effortless system, it also featured a slide on the left side of the case allowing the chronograph to be entirely blocked, or only partially blocked, to allow for interval timing without the danger of accidentally resetting the hands.

Pressing the bezel set a series of levers into motion that transmitted mechanical impulses to the chronograph mechanism located deep within the movement to start, stop (both at 12 o’clock position), and reset (6 o’clock position) it. This was all thanks to a ball-and-joint system never before been seen in watchmaking that connected the crystal to a series of levers inside the movement. Each lever was mounted on a miniature stainless steel ball bearing containing seven balls just 0.1 mm in diameter.

This large chronograph seemed to me like an early taste of watchmaking’s future with regard to performance and design.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2

It was released in three sets: 250 pieces in black steel and titanium — the black was achieved by a black coating of titanium oxide sealed with silicium oxide — 750 pieces in brushed and polished titanium, and 200 pieces crafted in titanium and the precious metal platinum.

All three versions were outfitted with automatic Caliber 751B featuring a power reserve of 72 hours, 39 jewels, and a frequency of 4 Hertz. Decidedly marking this series, the case back bore the engraved logos of both Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin.

Quick Facts Amvox 2 Chronograph / 2006
 
Case: 44 x 14 mm, black stainless steel and titanium edition, titanium edition, titanium and platinum edition
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751B with vertical trigger chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, vertical trigger chronograph
 Limitation: black stainless steel and titanium (250 pieces); titanium (750 pieces); titanium and platinum (200 pieces)
 Production: 2007–2011
 Pricing in 2006: $14,950 (stainless steel and titanium); $12,750 (titanium limited edition); $28,000 (titanium and platinum)

Other Amvox 2 versions

Along the way, Jaeger-LeCoultre released a few variations of existing Amvox watches. Here is a brief overview.

Adrian-Fernandez

Adrián Fernández wearing the Amvox 2 Grand Chronograph (photo courtesy Johann Sauty)

The limited edition Amvox 2 Grand Chronograph was inspired by Mexican Aston Martin driver Adrián Fernández. The dial featured Fernández’ initials between 7 and 8 o’clock, while the case back carried his engraved signature.

Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 2 Grand Chronograph Adrian Fernandez

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Grand Chronograph Adrián Fernández

Quick Facts Amvox 2 Grand Chronograph / 2011
 
Case: 44 x 14 mm, pink gold
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751B with vertical trigger chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes; date, vertical trigger chronograph
 Limitation: 50 pieces
 Remark: strap had green, white, and red elements in tribute to the Mexican flag
 Production: 2010–2013

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Chronograph Racing

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Chronograph Racing

Quick Facts Amvox 2 Chronograph Racing / 2010
 
Case: 44 x 14 mm, titanium
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751B with vertical trigger chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes; date, vertical trigger chronograph
 Production: 2010–2016

Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

The Amvox line took a decided leap toward haute horlogerie in 2007 with the introduction of the Tourbillon GMT in a sporty ceramic case — the first, in fact, ever used at the self-professed “grande maison.”

As the first two Amvox timepieces were nothing short of technically stunning, the third timepiece had to go a really long way to catch up.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

But catch up it did: the ceramic housing was accentuated by a pink gold crown and case back for a striking contrast.

And this was of course not just any ceramic, this was an alloy that saw zirconium and yttrium oxides heated at high pressure to a temperature of more than 2,000 degrees. The resulting material was ground and shaped, with the final milling performed by five-axis CNC machinery to make sure that each facet and contour was perfect. Polishing was done with special tools coated with diamond crystals and powder. The resulting ceramic case was lighter than titanium and twice as hard as steel.

View through the display back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

View through the display back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

Automatic Caliber 988 is a tourbillon movement driving two time zones, an AM/PM indicator, and the extraordinary date first seen in the Master Tourbillon. This date display makes a large jump between the numbers 31 and 1 to ensure that a view of the tourbillon at 6 o’clock was never obstructed.

A central dial opening afforded the wearer a fascinating glimpse of Caliber 988’s mechanical inner workings including ruthenium-coated bridges and base plate. The black PVD-coated central AM/PM indicator managed to steal the show away from the tourbillon, despite the latter’s carriage in grade 5 titanium treated with ruthenium contrasting with an upper bridge made of gold-plated aluminum.

Available in a limited and numbered series of only 300 pieces, the Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT reflected the same type of luxurious rarity that an Aston Martin automobile does: reserved for the privileged few.

Robert Downey, Jr. wearing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 that he also wore in the film 'Iron Man 2'

Robert Downey, Jr. wearing the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 that he also wore in the film ‘Iron Man 2’

The platinum and ceramic version was worn both by Iron Man/Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. The actor portraying the superhero, Robert Downey, Jr., also wore it during the promotion of the film.

And British actor Clive Owen has gone on record saying, “My first Jaeger-LeCoultre watch was from the Amvox range, and I have to be honest and say I was instantly attracted to it because it looked so cool.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT Racing

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT Racing

Even more limited was the 2010 boutique edition Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT Racing released in honor of Aston Martin’s LMP1 car doing so well at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009 along with an edition called Amvox 2 Chronograph Racing (see above).

Quick Facts Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT / 2008
 
Case: 44 x 15.2 mm, ceramic and pink gold
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 988 with one-minute tourbillon and 11.5 mm variable inertia balance
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage); date, second time zone, AM/PM indicator
 Limitation: 300 pieces
 Pricing in 2008: €68,000

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT in ceramic and pink gold

Quick Facts Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT / 2008
 
Case: 44 x 15.2 mm, ceramic and platinum
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 988 with one-minute tourbillon and 11.5 mm variable inertia balance
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage); date, second time zone, AM/PM indicator
 Limitation: 300 pieces
 Price in 2008: $95,000

Quick Facts Amvox 3 Tourbillon GMT Racing / 2010
 
Case: 44 x 15.2 mm, ceramic and titanium
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 988 with one-minute tourbillon and 11.5 mm variable inertia balance
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (on tourbillon cage); date, second time zone, AM/PM indicator
 Limitation: 35 pieces, available only at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques

Amvox “4”: the Transponder

The Amvox 2 DBS Transponder chronograph was unofficially called by many the “Amvox 4” as it was next in the series. However, because it was based on the Amvox 2 Chronograph, it was officially it was named for that.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder DBS Chronographs

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder DBS Chronographs

The Amvox 2 DBS’s claim to fame was that it was outfitted with both an ingenious vertical trigger for the chronograph mechanism, making it possible to start, stop, and reset the mechanical stopwatch simply by pressing on the sapphire crystal, as well as a locking/unlocking system for the Aston Martin DBS V12 embedded within the mechanical watch.

Technical sketch illustratrating how to activate the chronograph on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder DBS Chronograph

Technical sketch illustratrating how to activate the chronograph on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder DBS Chronograph

Using this function was easy: all the wearer had to do was make contact with the “open” and “close” zones on the watch.

And while this was easy enough for the wearer to use, the development teams had to take a major technical constraint into account: a mechanical watch acts like a Faraday cage, protecting the movement from the influences of electrical fields that may adversely affect precision.

In order to endow the timepiece with the proverbial reliability of Jaeger-LeCoultre movements — and to enable the transponder to operate despite the nearby metal oscillating weight — an innovative antenna had to be developed.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Chronograph DBS in red gold

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Chronograph DBS in red gold

The solution lay in placing the antenna as far as possible from the movement and the case; lengthy research resulted in using the sapphire crystal as the medium. Measuring 128 mm in length, thereby guaranteeing an optimal range, the antenna was metalized on the inside of the sapphire crystal, shaped to follow the curve of the inner bezel ring and the hour markers between 4 and 6 o’clock. It was connected at strategic points to the locking control contact rectangles (“open” and “close”).

Bez was very pleased with this particular development, remarking, “This is the definitive expression of the partnership between Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre, I’m delighted that we have been able to premiere this technology in such an elegant solution. It is the first time horology and automotive engineering have been combined in this way.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox Rapide Transponder

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Rapide Transponder

Jaeger-LeCoultre fans were equally stunned (in a good way), and Lambert also expressed his pleasure at this watch. “This is one of the most exciting projects our team has developed in the area of functional innovation in watchmaking. The collaboration with all levels of the Aston Martin organization has been deep and exhilarating.”

This James Bondian automatic timepiece was available in a limited edition of 999 pieces in satin-finished grade 5 titanium and 300 pieces of satin-finished pink gold on an Alcantara-lined calfskin strap. It was available for the Aston Martin DBS, DB9, and Rapide cars only.

Quick Facts Amvox 2 DBS Transponder / 2008
 
Case: 44 x 14 mm, titanium or pink gold
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751E with vertical trigger chronograph and crystal-metallized antenna (transponder)
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, vertical trigger chronograph
 Limitation: titanium (999 pieces) or pink gold (300 pieces)
 Pricing in 2008: $15,700 (titanium); $27,000 (pink gold)

Amvox 5

The Amvox line represented a way for Jaeger-LeCoultre to experiment and explore without it becoming a gimmick or an extension of the car. “The world of Aston Martin is strong inspiration, both the corporate and the racing sides,” Lambert explained at the launch of the Amvox 5 World Chronograph, which took place at the Paul Ricard track in Le Castellet, France.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph

It was always Lambert’s view that consistency is everything in life; this certainly became one of the reasons that the Amvox line and the cooperation between the two companies lasted for 12 years.

Elizabeth Doerr with the Aston Martin Lola

Elizabeth Doerr with the Aston Martin Lola at the Paul Ricard track in Le Castellet, France

The world time watch with open-worked dials adorned with a grid motif evoking the radiator grille found on Aston Martin automobiles was also available in two Racing versions inspired by the Lola Aston Martin LMP1 race car — one with orange and the other with black-and-white elements — available in limited editions of 100 pieces each.

The Amvox 5 World Chronograph was different from the four preceding timepieces of this line in that it contained a new complication; it was a complicated and demanding piece of micro mechanics that marked the first world timer in the exclusive collection.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph

Caliber 752’s 279 components allowed the wearer to see every time zone on the globe at once, with the reference cities — which included Gaydon, the location of the Aston Martin factory, instead of London to represent Greenwich Mean Time — easily clicking into place.

The automatic column wheel chronograph with smooth operating vertical clutch featured a rotor running on ceramic ball bearings and a large balance wheel adjusted by variable inertia.

Quick Facts Amvox 5 World Chronograph / 2010
 
Case: 44 mm, ceramic with pink gold or titanium
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 752 with column wheel chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph, world time
 Limitation: ceramic and titanium (300 pieces); ceramic and pink gold (200 pieces)
 Pricing in 2010: $20,500 (ceramic and titanium); $26,150 (ceramic and pink gold)

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph on the wrist of Aston Martin racing driver Harold Primat

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 5 World Chronograph on the wrist of Aston Martin racing driver Harold Primat

Quick Facts Amvox 5 World Chronograph Racing / 2010
 
Case: 44 mm, ceramic
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 752 with column wheel chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph, world time
 Limitation: 100 pieces each, one version with black-and-white elements and one with orange elements

Amvox 7

Skipping the “6,” Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Amvox 7 was also based on the vertical trigger chronograph, but the look of it had evolved away from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Memovox and more toward the brand’s Master Compressor Extreme Lab.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7 Chronograph

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7 Chronograph

Its updated vertical trigger mechanism, making pushing on the sapphire crystal in just the right places to start, stop and reset the chronograph a breeze, could also be locked by a slide on the side of the case so that timing intervals weren’t accidentally started or stopped.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7

Additionally, the 65-hour power reserve of the automatic movement was shown in a unique radial display, adding to the visuals’ feeling of speed.

The Amvox collaboration had partially been so successful for Jaeger-LeCoultre because the timepieces of this collaboration authentically, but not tackily, contained design elements from Aston Martin’s own set of codes. Head designer Marek Reichman confirmed this to me during a 2012 outing to Milbrook, the car maker’s testing track in England.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7 Chronograph S

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7 Chronograph S

“It’s important that the watch gives you a feeling similar to that of the car,” he explained at the time. “Both Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre stand for similar things, but live in different worlds: depth, richness of heritage, and being contemporary brands.”

After eight years of only making Amvox limited editions, the Amvox 7 finally represented a non-limited edition timepiece.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 7

Like all timepieces of this collection, it was outfitted with a quick-change strap system allowing the owner to change the look and feel of the watch without a trip to the watchmaker.

To see some fun at the introduction of this timepiece, click Aston Martins, Transponders, a Hidden Safe and a Butler: In London like James Bond.

Quick Facts Amvox 7 Chronograph / 2012
 
Case: 44 x 15.64 mm, titanium
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 756 with vertical trigger chronograph
 Functions: hours, minutes; date, vertical trigger chronograph, power reserve, movement function indicator
 Price in 2012: $26,000

Amvox 2 Transponder

Gentlemen, start your watches . . .

In 2014, the Amvox line finally received a Transponder model that could interact with every Aston Martin car. Previous versions only locked and unlocked the Aston Martin DBS, DB9, and Rapide models.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder from 2014

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder from 2014

One big technology change leading to this was the fact that Jaeger-LeCoultre managed to move the antenna from the sapphire crystal to the case. Now positioned directly beneath the watch crystal, it was even visible.

Meticulously applied by thermal vapor deposition between 8 and 4 o’clock, the antenna was now in a position to ensure optimal communication with the car.

Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX 2 Transponder from 2014

Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2 Transponder from 2014

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers naturally took the opportunity to transform it into a decorative feature: two elegant sensors marked “Open” and “Close” were applied by thermal vapor deposition beneath the crystal so that a light touch was enough for activation.

Now owners could lock and unlock their cars as well as turn on the headlights of every Aston Marin car in current production. Very James Bond-like.

Interestingly, this watch came in both global and U.S. versions.

Quick Facts Amvox 2 DBS Transponder / 2014
 
Case: 44 mm, titanium
 Movement: automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 751E with vertical trigger chronograph and antenna (transponder)
 Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, vertical trigger chronograph, movement function indicator


Originally published at Quill & Pad.