The mechanical alarm has become a novelty due to the endless options we now have for getting us up in the mornings. Due to this fact there is no longer a mass production of the components which makes them a little more costly and rare. As you would expect with anything novel, the designs are intricate and there is a good deal of effort that goes into planning the timepieces. I have put together a list of some of the pieces that have reliable parts and attractive looks. Sorry for being so shallow.
Poljot has its own mechanical workhorse powering this piece and if you haven’t heard of them before I would not be at all surprised. Their pieces are unashamedly vintage and mostly have a luxury appearance. I am not sold on the build reliability overall but this piece has some endearing qualities. The black metallic dial goes well with the common polished theme that we see all over this piece. There are hour line markers with a generous lume painted on and small Arabic numerals on the raised internal bezel. The internal bezel gives the face a much bigger look because of the wider face even though the case only comes in at 39mm. The case is completely polished giving it quite a reflective look which can be high maintenance because of small scratches and fingerprints that are so easily picked up. The caseback is also polished and has a globe pressed into the back that makes for a nice-looking bit of artwork. There are crowns at 2 and 4, the former for rotating the internal bezel referred to earlier and the other for time functions. There is another smaller domed crown at 10 o’clock that is for setting your mechanical alarm. There are no surprises with the crocodile strap and it honestly suits it well enough. Your alarm will vibrate and set of a small sound for 13 seconds. This piece is not your typical choice but it will add some colour to your collection and also allows you to add another word to your repertoire of Russian words, wodka (vodka), sputnik and Poljot.
Jaeger Lecoultre Master Memovox
This timepiece is only 1 of 500 in tribute to the Memovox pieces of the 1970’s. The sunburst dial gives us a look into different shades of blue to accentuate the different aspects of the dial. The inner section is a deep blue rotatable disc that controls the alarm. There is a small ring around the inner disc and then a beautifully textured slightly off coloured blue ring surrounding that. The little bar indexes are all in the outer ring with the date window at 3 o’clock and have a space where the luminous coating is applied in the middle. There is a light grey minute circle intended for another layer of contrast which can look like a light blue if you look quickly due to the influence of the other colours. The stainless steel baton hands blend with the style effortlessly and have a thin luminous coating in the middle as well. The case is polished to absolute perfection which makes the combination with the blue dial look tidy. I like that the crowns aren’t too big especially considering that there are two of them, the first at 2 o’clock to control the winding and setting of the alarm and the second at 4 o’clock for the regular functions. An ever reliable Swiss automatic self-winding movement keeps this piece honest. It runs at 28,800 vph and has 23 jewels to help keep this piece in good nick for a long time. I like the way that a separation of colours was used to outline the different functions while still making sure they complement one another.
The Tudor Advisor was intimidating at first but the more time I spent with it the more it wooed me. I prefer the alligator and silk strap to the steel bracelet for a more sophisticated look but the most important thing is that it was designed to work well with each variation. The cognac colour of the dial has me sold. The applied indexes and layered sub-dials give the timepiece a 3-dimensional look which increases your appreciation for the watchmaker’s effort. The indexes around 6 o’clock are reduced in size to make space for the date sub-dial which has a small dauphine hand indicating the day for you. At 3 o’clock is the power reserve indicator for the alarm so that the only one to blame for being late is you, or the traffic of course. The other indexes are edged and polished with the only numerals being selected for this team being 3, 9 and 12. At 9 o’clock is a little window letting you know whether the alarm is on or off which is controlled by the push button at 8 o’clock which is the only thing that looks a bit out of place on this time piece. The bezel and sides of the case are polished with a smart satin finish on the top of the lugs and the 8 o’clock button. The 2 o’clock crown for controlling the alarm has advisor embedded in black on top which looks a bit tacky when comparing it to the 4 o’clock crown with the Tudor rose on top. There is a domed sapphire crystal sitting pretty on the top of this piece. In case you are not yet entertained the case is partly made from titanium which makes it more durable and lightweight. The self-winding mechanical movement is the ETA 2892 with the alarm mechanism being made exclusively by Tudor.
We dusted off the shelves a bit with the Seiko Bell-Matic. I don’t want to get you too excited because there are not many well looked after pieces available but if this scratches your itch and you are willing to spend some time looking around you will be most pleased. The case has a sand-blasted finish that would appeal to those less attracted to the reflective watches. It has a curved cushion case with a lowered bezel that makes the crystal on top pop right out. The alarm is operated by setting it with the crown at 3 o’clock and then activating it with the flush push button at 2 o’clock. The indentation of the push-button is great because it has such little functionality it would be superfluous to have it sticking out – I wish more watchmakers would follow suit. There is a rotating internal bezel used for the alarm which has Arabic numerals from 5 – 55 with an arrow pointer in the middle at the top. There is a very retro blue chapter ring that adds a splash of colour to the black dial. The hour markers are raised and at 3 o’clock is a bulky day and date window. There is a red second hand and some baton hands which have a good luminous portion in them as well as the slightest hint of a skeletal style. There is an almost ancient 4006 automatic Seiko movement keeping this old soul going.
Omega have been around for a considerable amount of time so you would expect them to have to change things up to keep it spicy. The Memomatic was definitely one of those spicier moments. This timepiece must have the closest resemblance to an alien ship that I have ever come across. The case is stainless steel and shaped, well, like a UFO – conveniently named ‘flightmaster’. The crystal is domed with a magnifier at the date window. The dial actually has a sporty look with a combination of black, grey and orange with applied steel markers and extended white bars for the luminous coatings. There is a thin orange line behind each hour marker and an orange arrow on the rotating disc for selecting your alarm time. Unlike most mechanical alarms the Memomatic can be set to minutes and hours. The crown between 3 and 4 o’clock is for the usual functionality as well as the alarm functionality which means there doesn’t need to be an addition crown to wind the alarm. There is a push button between 2 and 3 o’clock to activate the alarm. Looking for this timepiece in good condition will take some time but there is no point in mentioning the strap because it will have been changed by now and if not it will need a change. The Memomatic is something different and I think will make a fun addition.
Excellent quality mechanical alarm watches for a reasonable price are a dime a dozen and as you have seen a number of them are no longer in production which makes their collection about the experience as much as owning the timepiece. Call me boring but I love the Tudor. Vintage pieces are a big favourite of mine but the modern look appeals to me here. A small part of me wants to throw all caution to the wind and take the Poljot but sanity usually prevails.