Wrist Watching: Miles Davis, Virtuoso Jazz Trumpeter, And His Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox GT
by Nick Gould
When there are debates on who is/was the greatest trumpet player ever, Miles Davis is usually one of first names to be brought up. An eight-time Grammy winner, Davis is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in jazz.
When it comes to the world of watches, Davis is best known for wearing a Breitling Navitimer (as seen in Jazz And The Syncopation Of Fine Mechanics), an iconic pilot’s watch with a chronograph and an integrated slide rule bezel for making calculations.
The way Davis wears the Navitimer on a full cuff strap makes the watch really pop!
While browsing through images of the trumpeter, I also spotted a familiar-looking, oval, two-crown watch on his wrist: to my surprise, it was a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox model from the 1960s.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox is notable for having an alarm function, hence the two crowns. The crown at the 2 o’clock position is used to wind the alarm’s spring and set the alarm time, while the crown at 4 o’clock is used to wind the watch and set the time.
The first photo I found of Davis wearing the timepiece was in black and white, and I could see the two crowns and the familiar oval shape of the Memovox. But the particular model was still hard to determine.
Then I managed to find a color photo, which made a world of difference: the model is definitely a Memovox GT worn on a bund strap.
Determining whether it’s the E861 with a Caliber 825 automatic bumper movement or the E873 Speed Beat with a Caliber 916 automatic movement was a tad tricky, but due to the ring on the dial being darker and more pronounced, I conclude it’s the E861 model on Davis’ wrist.
It’s very cool to see that Davis sported a Memovox GT (“GT” meaning “Grande Taille,” or large size) back in the day. The Memovox was a rarity in the 1960s – as still it is today.
Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox GT E861
Case: 38 x 12 mm, steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 825 movement with unidirectional bumper automatic, two spring barrels (one for the alarm, one for the time), manual winding for alarm, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, alarm
Years of production of Caliber 825: 1959-1969