When it comes to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Parking most collectors talks about the Parking as if it was only one reference or model – it’s not!
Not even the very first Memovox Parking which were launched in 1958 as a part of the 125 Years Jubilé collection was just one reference…
The problem with the Parking dial is that it is easy to fake. All you need is to replace the alarm disk in a regular Memovox and voilà – Memovox Parking…
There has been several Memovox references with the Parking dial which are original, both as exclusive Parking models and as optional regular Memovox or Memovox Parking. There even has been pocket Memovox Parking versions…
But what all original Memovox Parking models have in common is that they all are from 1958 or later!
In 1957 Jaeger-LeCoultre filed the patent for the Memovox Parking dial:
The function is as simple as it is genius – on the alarm disk, there is a count down markings for T.W.O hours and while the time is running, the hour hand will count down the remaining time before the alarm goes off. I.e. how much time left until your parking time is up! (You may recognize this from the recent Memovox Timer).
As said, the very first versions of the Memovox Parking were launched in 1958 as a part of the 125 Years Jubilé collection.
I say versions as there were T.W.O versions included in the Jubilé collection…
The first reference is the 3161, shared by both the Swiss- and the French reference system:
Here a photo of my stainless steel 3161 – characteristics: oversized alarm disk, short straight lugs and of course the Parking “P” and the two hours count down.
The reference 3161 exists in stainless steel, yellow gold and in rose gold.
Here, my friend GP Chronicles yellow gold version:
And last, my 3161 rose gold version. Honestly, in photos it is hard to see any difference between the yellow- and the rose gold, but in reality they are in slightly different shades.
One thing to have in mind is that the Swiss rose gold cases are less rose/pink in tone compared to the French rose gold cases which are more pink than rose…
Now what is an important detail and the reason for the second Memovox Parking reference in the Jubilé collection…
Back in 1958 there were import regulations in France on gold items. This made Jager-LeCoultre and many other brands, to ship assembled movements from Switzerland to France, to be mounted into French made gold cases, before offered in the market. By doing that, brands could keep the cost for gold watches to a lower level.
Here a scan from the French 1958 Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue: Memovox Parking reference 12 R.R.7
Translated 12 R.R.7 is movement size 12 (Calibre K 814), Round, Reveil (Alarm), id number 7.
The 12 R.R.7 only existed in gold, rose- and yellow gold.
Many think that the only difference between the 3161 and the 12 R.R.7 is the case metal, like it is listed in the 1958 pricelist:
Why would they make it that easy?!
No, if you look closely on the bezel and lugs of the 12 R.R.7 you will notice some differences…
The bezel have is a tad slimmer and with a different profile compared to the 3161. Looking at the lugs, they are curved and twisted in a style that Omega later used on their Speedmaster models, so called “lyre lugs”.
If you really are the devil into details, you will also notice that the crowns are thinner and flat compared to the crowns of the 3161 – and slightly recessed into the case side.
But, the biggest difference is the size! This is hard to see in photos, but the 12 R.R.7 is T.W.O millimeters smaller in diameter: 33mm compared to the 3161 which measures 35 mm in diameter.
Here is a French Memovox Parking from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Heritage Gallery – 12 R.R.7 in rose gold:
So there you have the T.W.O Memovox Parking references that are included in the 1958’s 125 Years Jubilé collection!
Now… Several watch collectors will protest and say – what about the reference E 586 Memovox Parking?!
Yes, the E 856 is a Memovox Parking with exactly the same dial, hands and movement as the 3161… But the E 856 is never mentioned as a part of the 125 Years Jubilé collection!
In all documents about the Jubilé collection, only the 3161 and, only in France, the 12 R.R.7 are mentioned, never the E 856…
So what is the difference between the 3161 and the E 856 and how to tell them apart?
As the reference indicates, the later is E – Étanche, waterproof while the first is not.
So only difference is the screw-down case back on the E 856?
To say that would be to say that the only difference between the 3161 and the 12 R.R.7 is the case metal…
No, even if the 3161 and the E 856 share a lot, they do not share all!
Here is a scan from the 1965 Jaeger-LeCoultre catalogue with the 3161 and the E 856 side-by-side – look at the lugs, look at the crowns:
Compared to the 3161, the lugs of the E 856 are longer with a curved shape.
Here is my E 856 with a regular dial, no Parking. As can be seen, the lugs are longer and with a less straight shape. Another noticeable detail are the larger waterproof crowns.
Here is a photo of the 3161 and the E 856 side-by-side. Even if hands and dials are of the same type, the E 856 is larger.
What may come as an surprise is that both have the same case diameter – 35 mm:
In this side view photo the curved shape of the E 856 is easy to see.
And yes, on the back – snap-on case back on the 3161 (upper) and screw-down case back on the E 856 (lower).
You recognize the T.W.O part case back system from the E 853/E 855.
I understand that many collectors compare the E 856 with the 3161 due to the Parking dial, but the case of the E 856 is much closer to the E 11005. Will return to this in another report…
Stay tuned for more Memovox reports!