Wooden Beam 2020: Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and Master Memovox

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We have been looking at a lot of vintage Memovox here and also some of the new Memovox… But now it’s time to have a closer look at a couple of semi-vintage Memovox…

Up on the Wooden Beam – the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and the Master Memovox from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

It seems like there is a bit of confusion among collectors regarding the Master Memovox with the manual Calibre 914.

To clarify, there are T.W.O versions of the Master Memovox with the Calibre 914 inside – first version is the 144.x.94 of which all have a silver dial and closed case back.

Second version is the more well-known 144.x.94.S of which all have a black dial and open case back.

“x” in the reference represent the case metal – 2 = Pink gold, 8 = Stainless steel.

What’s even more confusing is that in the Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue the references are written differently – for example: 144.240.942B (M) where the “B” means “on strap”, without any letter means on bracelet. The “M” in brackets stand for Manual movement.

Below is the first version with silver dial and closed case back:

Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue 1998/1999 – Master Memovox 144.x.94

And here, the second version 144.x.94SB (M) – where the “S” indicates the open case back. “S” like in “Special Edition”?

Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue 1998/1999 – Master Memovox 144.x.94S

The black dial version with the open case back is the most well-known of these version and also larger in numbers. 1228 in stainless steel and 442 in pink gold.

The lesser known silver dial version with the closed case back – 505 in stainless steel and 225 in pink gold.

I am missing the 1997 catalogue, so I am not 100% sure of the Master Memovox year of release. However I do know that both versions were in the 1998/1999 catalogue while only the black dial/open case back were in the 2000/2001 catalogue and that in the 2002/2003 catalogue both versions are gone.

The Master Reveil saw the first light back in 1996.

I have no production numbers on the Master Reveil, but it is less confusing as there is only one dial version – silver dial and all of them have closed case backs.

Here shown in the same, 1998/1999 catalogue: 141.8.92 – stainless steel

The Master Reveil were made in both pink gold and yellow gold – 141.2.97 pink gold, 141.1.97 yellow gold

I used to have the pink gold version of the Master Reveil, but in a weak moment I gave it up to a dear friend who is a “one watch guy” – this is many years ago but I still miss it… One of the few I ever sold and one of the even fewer I would consider to buy again…

I still have my stainless steel version of the Master Reveil, here together with the Master Memovox also in stainless steel – on the wooden beam:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and Master Memovox

39 mm vs. 36 mm. Automatic movement vs. manual movement. Closed case back vs. open case back. Date vs. no date. Silver dial vs. black dial – a lot of differences between these, but still there are a lot they have in common.

The Memovox DNA is unmistakable – the second alarm crown, the alarm disk, the alarm track closer to the centre…

The red accent combined with the black dial of the Master Memovox makes the dial “pop”. Maybe hard to see in the photos, but there is a thin red line around each lume dot as well.

One interesting detail is that some, not all of the Master Memovox dials are marked “T- SWISS MADE -T” indicating that tritium is used as luminous material.

But from what I have seen from photos of others and on my no “T” dial as well, is that all dials have more yellowish lume, similar to aged tritium… Remember, this is a watch from the time before brands started to experiment with different colour of luminova… I have no proof, but I have a suspicion that tritium was used for all the Master Memovox dials even if not marked on all.

Not sure exactly when regulations stopped brands from using tritium but must have been around the same time as the Master Memovox production…

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and Master Memovox

If you compare the lume dots you can see that on the Master Reveil, the lume dots are still clear white while on the Master Memovox they are more cream coloured.

Back in 1996 the Master Reveil was considered a rather large dress watch at 39 mm. Since then many brands have made dress watches with diameters well over 40 mm. Today sizes are again more similar to the Master Reveil, the new Master Control Memovox is only one millimetre larger – 40 mm in diameter.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and Master Memovox

What differs between the Calibre 914 and Calibre 918 from previous Memovox movements is the gong – Calibres before these do not have a separate gong, instead they have a pin mounted on or part of the case back on which the alarm hammer hits. I.e. the case itself is the “gong”.

Here, the Calibre 914 – the gong is the semi-oval you see just below the two screws:

Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue 1998/1999 – Calibre 914

One of the big drawbacks of the Master Reveil from a user perspective compared with newer versions of the Memovox is that the Calibre 918 do not have a quick date set mechanism. You have to go back and forth over midnight to change date forward – not a big deal, but can be exhausting…

The Calibre 918, the gong have a similar shape located in the lower part of this sketch:

Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue 2000/2001 – Calibre 918

Looking at the back of these watches: Master Reveil left – closed case back with the Master Control 1000 hours gold medallion. Master Memovox right – open case back with the gong and alarm hammer in clear view.

On the Master Memovox with the open case back, the gong is mounted on the crystal which gives a softer and rounder tone to the alarm – less sharp but not less in volume.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil and Master Memovox

On the wrist, the Master Reveil looks and feel very modern – the Master Reveil in stainless steel can be quite “cold” in its appearance, like a “Ice Queen” and in certain lights be a challenge to read – like in this photo below:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil – on the wrist

One detail which I very much appreciate is the step bezel – the extra small step on the bezel before it meets the crystal. It gives the watch much more depth and character.

From a practical point of view, it also protects the flatter part of the bezel from scratches:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Reveil – bezel profil

Compared to the Master Reveil, the Master Memovox feels more delicate with its smaller size and even if the black dial have greater contrast against the steel hands and index – in certain angles and light conditions, reading the watch can be a challenge.

This is due to the glossy surface of the black dial, same as with the Memovox international from 2010:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox – on the wrist

T.W.O watches which are I would consider as “semi-vintage” – they feels both vintage and modern at the same time. With the new generation of the Master Control Memovox of this year, I think they are bumped one step closer to vintage…

Stay tuned for more Memovox reports!