Shot of the day: LeCoultre E 857 Deep Sea Automatic Alarm

Posted by

Or like it says on the dial LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm Automatic!

Collectors often focus on the “Alarm” part in the name while back in the days when the reference E 857 was released, the focus was as much on the “Automatic” as on the “Alarm”…

The technical importance of the movement being an automatic movement I covered already in my post about the LeCoultre E 859 Polaris 1965.

Of the T.W.O versions of the reference E 857 Deep Sea Alarm, the LeCoultre was the first to hit the North American market in 1959. The Jaeger-LeCoultre version was released one year later on the European market, in 1960.

In my post about the E 857 Jaeger-LeCoultre version I mentioned that there are not many original documents covering the E 857. You can read the post here, Jaeger-LeCoultre E 857.

LeCoultre reference E 857 Deep Sea Alarm: shot of the day

LeCoultre E 857 Deep Sea Alarm – shot of the day

Now the problem is the same for the American version, not many documents around…

The only catalogue I saw featuring the LeCoultre E 857 is this one I have, which is not even a LeCoultre catalogue…

It’s a Longines-Wittnauer catalogue which happens to include three LeCoultre watches of which one is the E 857!

The reason for LeCoultre being included can only be due to the fact that back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, LeCoultre was sold by the same agency which also had Longines, Wittnauer, Vacheron & Constantin.

Longines-Wittnauer catalogue – technical & timing watches

This is not a regular watch catalogue, its a catalogue for technical & timing watches. I guess the E 857 which is both an alarm- and a divers watch falls under the technical category.

Interesting to see is how well displayed the crowns are here. It shows the different profiles of the two crowns as well as the distance between the crown and the case. The distance is quite unusual, especially for a divers watch. Guess it was to make it easier to operate the alarm.

LeCoultre E 857 – Deep Sea AUTOMATIC Alarm

The describing text is a bit misleading… “manually rotated outer bezel” – no, the bezel do not rotate.

According to this, the Deep Sea Alarm is waterproof down to 500 ft/167 m. In the specification for the European version it says 200 meters…

The price list gives a few hits as well:

Retail price for the E 857 on bracelet (JB Champion De Luxe): USD 135 plus tax.

The Longines T-910 Skin diver which Longines recently made a re-edition of, is five dollars more, USD 140 plus tax. Today, even if the T-910 is a rare bird, I would say that the price of the Longines is less than the LeCoultre…

Another interesting detail is that after the copyright text there is a “S.63”. I know it’s not referring to the page number as the catalogue is only 35 pages. The most likely explanation I can think of is print year. I.e. the price list is from 1963.

That the Deep Sea Alarm was not a commercially success and didn’t sell well back in the days is a known fact, which could explain that there were still watches in stock in 1963 even if production ended the year before that, in 1962.

Longines-Wittnauer catalogue – price list

One drawback with the LeCoultre version of the Deep Sea Alarm is that while wearing the watch I prefer to have the alarm at twelve, due to the text on the alarm disk… That prevents me from playing with the alarm as much as I do with any of my other Memovox…

But that drawback you forget once you look at the back and see the frogman with his spear…!

LeCoultre E 857 Deep Sea Alarm – the frogman with his spear

Same as on the dial, Deep Sea Alarm Automatic.

Yes, there is still a lot to tell about the E 857 – I will return to this reference for sure… Stay tuned!