Greatest Sports Car/Watch Pairing of All Time is a Gadget Worthy of James Bond
Not everyone who loves watches also loves sports cars, and far from every automotive enthusiast wears watches. But there’s a solid group of us who are into the mechanical, tactile personality of both. We often debate craftsmanship, parallels between the industries, and the best pairings of watches and cars. But one combo stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX transponder is a chronograph that doubles as a wireless key fob for your vintage Aston Martin.
Jaeger-LeCoultre and motorsports
When the rowdy first automobile race rocked the streets of Paris in 1894, watchmaking was already a mature industry. LeCoultre, which a French family founded in Switzerland, was over 60 years old. Early automobile manufacturers turned to the watch industry for dashboard instruments. In the 1920s, Paris-based Jaeger and Swiss-based Coultre began collaborating on automotive instruments.
The resulting instruments were so popular among racers that by 1930, 95% of competition-winning racecars (that actually had a speedometer) had a speedometer from Jaeger-LeCoultre. These gauges, usually just labeled “Jaeger,” are common on the dashboard of prewar Grand Prix cars such as Bugatti race cars and the 1.5-liter Aston Martin LM.
Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre renew their partnership
In 2003, Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre made a big announcement in Paris. The automaker rolled out its new Vanquish S, and the watchmaker unveiled the elegant Jaeger-LeCoultre Aston Martin Edition watch.
When the watch went into production, Jaeger-LeCoultre folded it into its famous “Memovox” line and renamed it the AMVOX (Aston Martin + Memovox, get it?). In 2014, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the AMVOX II, to pair with a new generation of Aston Martin cars.
Like classic Aston Martin race cars, the AMVOX features the timeless Jaeger-LeCoultre logo. Its face was redesigned from the normal Memovox to look more like the dials in the Aston Martins of its day. The watch band is even the same leather as the automaker uses. All of this has become relatively common in the world of sponsored automotive-themed watches. But Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin did it first. And they did a lot more, too.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre AMVOX transponder will make you feel like James Bond
The AMVOX series is a true racing chronograph, which means it has a button you can use to pause the entire movement to time laps on a racetrack. The AMVOX II swapped this button for a satisfying, sliding trigger. But that’s far from all this Aston-Martin-inspired watch can do.
Jaeger-LeCoultre and Aston Martin agreed that a watch that could unlock your sports car would be James-Bond-level cool. So Aston Martin supplied Jaeger-LeCoultre with transponders that dealerships could code to the new Vanquish S.
A simple solution would have been to add a couple extra “lock/unlock” buttons on the side of the Memovox’s case and call it a day. But Jaeger-LeCoultre was determined to find a more elegant solution, no matter what it took.
The AMVOX has a sapphire crystal that floats on a series of levers that each hinge on a ball bearing just 0.1 mm. When you press down on the left side of the crystal, the transponder unlocks your Aston Martin. When you press down on the right side, it locks your car. And when you press the entire crystal down, the lights come on.
Today, with phone apps that can remotely start even entry-level cars, this might not seem that impressive. But in 2003, it was entirely unprecedented. Unfortunately, the first-generation AMVOX watch could only be paired with a single car. That’s right, you’ll have to find one for sale with its corresponding Aston Martin. But one important feature of the AMVOX II transponder is that it can be reprogrammed to work with any contemporary Aston Martin. Do note that there was a non “transponder” version of the AMVOX II, so double-check that it has wireless capabilities before you buy it for your car.
See the AMVOX transponder in action in the video below: