As a watch collector you will very soon realise there often exists variations of the same watch reference.
Some are intended – like different dial versions or case metals. Some are due to changes during the production cycle…
And some are the ones you like to avoid – made up versions due to lack of knowledge and/or correct parts during service…
When it comes to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox line most references existed in several versions – there are only a few exceptions that I can think of…
One of them, the E 861 Memovox GT!
The E 861 were only made with one dial/hands version and only in stainless steel. This is quite rare for a Memovox and especially for one of the Funky 70’s Memovox!
So why even bother to write this report? – Even if the watch itself only were made in one version there are some market differences that can be spotted in documentation.
One of the reasons why not several versions of the E 861 might be the rather short lifespan – introduced in 1968 at the Basel Watch Fair, kept in the catalogue until 1971 and most likely discontinued at the release of the 1972 catalogue.
Another reason I suspect is that the E 861 have the Calibre 825 bumper movement inside and at the introduction of the Calibre 916 in 1969 it became “old”…
At the Basel Watch Fair and also in the famous Concord ad the E 861 was featured on a black leather strap:
Featured in the same way both in the French 1970 catalogue:
And Swiss/English 1971 catalogue:
To my understanding, there never were a LeCoultre version of the E 861.
In the U.S. market there were several oval shaped Memovox with the later Calibre 916 inside, but I never saw a E 861 with “LeCoultre” on the dial.
This may be another reason for the only one version of the E 861 as the U.S. market often drove the demand for many different versions.
Looking into the case code catalogue, the code 861 is mentioned but as Calibre is not stated, I can’t confirm if this is a the E 861. Might as well be a Longines or Wittnauer case code – like the 873 in the scan below, it is not the E 873 Memovox but some Wittnauer case code based on the Calibre W-7TO. The case code catalogue is not a complete list of all references ever existed and was printed before the E 873 even existed.
What is interesting to see here is that the case code 850 do have a E marking which aligns with the Swiss reference E 850, the Calibre LeC-814 confirms this being a Memovox.
Another detail of information to be found here is the 857-EI, Swiss reference E 857 and the “I” stands for Import and yes, the Calibre LeC-815 is the correct Calibre for the Deep Sea Alarm. The E 857 Deep Sea Alarm are one of the few watches which were imported to the U.S. market as a complete assembled watch. Most LeCoultre U.S. market watches were imported hands, dial, movement only – you can read more about it here: Jaeger-LeCoultre and the U.S. market – part #3.
But as said – there are some market variations – here are T.W.O advertisements from Argentina, South America, one with a black leather strap similar to what I already showed but in the second ad there is a bracelet different from most other Memovox bracelets from this time period:
This bracelet is similar to the one for the LeCoultre 3072 Memovox which were made by Kreisler Stelux but it is not exactly the same.
While searching the Internet I found a photo of this bracelet. According to the sales ad, the bracelet is made by NSA which make sense as Jaeger-LeCoultre used a lot of NSA bracelets for their Memovox watches. I can’t recall seeing this bracelet ever been used on any other Memovox.
Photo credit: wannabuyawatch.com
Another variation I found is shown in the British 1970 ad – here the E 861 is featured on a more “traditional” NSA Memovox bracelet:
Like most of these vintage steel bracelets – very comfortable on the wrist!
I found my E 861 on the original black leather strap but now when I have tried it on a NSA bracelet, I must say I like both the look and the comfort!
Guess I will keep it on the bracelet for a while…
There is a lot more to say about the E 861 – stay tuned for more!
And in the meantime – have a closer look at the E 861 box and papers: Jaeger-LeCoultre E 861 Memovox