Several brands were early into the race of making a wrist watch with an alarm complication.
Eterna patented a wrist watch Calibre with an alarm as early as 1908.
But what I would consider to be the first “modern” wrist watch with an alarm is the Vulcain Cricket with the Calibre 120.
Why would this be the first “modern” wrist watch with an alarm?
Many of the previous alarm watches were more primitive in their construction and often produced in very small series, almost as prototypes…
The Vulcain Calibre 120 was introduced in 1947 and stayed in production all the way into the 1960’s.
Three years before the very first Jaeger-LeCoultre reference 3150 Memovox with the Calibre 489 which was introduced at the Basel Watch Fair in 1950.
As a die-hard Jaeger-LeCoultre fan I should point out that we are now talking about manual alarm Calibres. Jaeger-LeCoultre made the first automatic alarm Calibre – Calibre 815 in 1957.
Early Vulcain Cricket – Calibre 120.
What is interesting here is to see how different Vulcain chose to solve the operation of the alarm.
Instead of the T.W.O crowns that we are used to see on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, here is one crown and one pusher.
The crown operates both the time and the alarm. Winding of the crown – clockwise: the alarm, anticlockwise: the time.
To set the time, pull the crown and set the time, same as for a normal Calibre, to set the alarm – press the pusher and the crown pops out and you can operate the alarm instead of the time.
One thing to know is that the time is only possible to set forward while the alarm is only possible to set backwards… So if you miss the settings you would like, you need to go a full circle for a new chance!
The Memovox is a bit easier to operate – two crowns, one for the time and one for the alarm. More straight forward and I guess less fragile.
One of the Vulcain Cricket’s best ambassadors must be the president Truman – “the President” watch, something Vulcain used as a sales argument in their catalogues:
The name “Cricket” comes from the loud sharp sound of the alarm.
Another argument to consider the Vulcain Cricket the first “modern” wrist watch with an alarm – Vulcain solved how to make the alarm really audible.
The solution was a double case back creating a “sound box” with openings to amplify the sound – patented by Vulcain in 1949.
The 16 “holes” on the outer case back of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris – same principle.
Vulcain, a brand once known all over the world…
The company had a rocky couple of decades… But I must say I really like what they did with their re-editions Nautical 70s and Nautical Heritage.
Hope to see more good things Vulcain in the future…
Stay tuned for more…