At the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, in conjunction with Aston Martin, Jaeger-LeCoultre unveiled a new AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder. It is a mechanical watch, with the added ability to unlock and lock the car, electronically.

Built around the AMVOX touch crystal technology, all you have to do is slide the switch on the left side of the case to activate the crystal, And then, by pressing the crystal between 8 and 9 o’clock for OPEN, and between 3 and 4 o’clock to CLOSE, the Rapide Transponder can unlock/lock the Aston Martin Rapide. You can even turn on the headlights by pressing both the OPEN and CLOSE part of the crystal simultaneously.

All of this technology is achieved using a micro-transmitter that is fitted into the body of a traditional mechanical watch.

Press Release
Jaeger-LeCoultre is associating with Aston Martin for the official presentation of the Rapide four-door sports car at the Frankfurt Motorshow from September 15th to 27th 2009, by launching the AMVOX2 Transponder Rapide, the chronograph that will offer future owners of the latest Aston Martin the privilege of locking or unlocking their car by simply pressing on the sapphire watch crystal.

While the Aston Martin Rapide follows on from the concept car presented by Aston Martin in 2006, embodying a functional and elegant design, the AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder heralds the second generation of the revolutionary creation that sealed the ties between the Grande Maison from the Vallée de Joux and the legendary British luxury sports car manufacturer. Released several months ago, it is the first mechanical watch developed with the ability to control access into a luxury sports car by means of a built-in micro transmitter system serves to lock and unlock the Aston Martin DBS car, while maintaining the key functions of the famous vertical-trigger mechanism equipping the pushpiece-free chronograph.

The future owners of the Rapide will now enjoy the same privilege with their sports car, thanks to a dedicated Jaeger-LeCoultre watch featuring an exclusive design.

Open, Close, Find Me
Crafted exclusively for owners of the Aston Martin DBS and now for the Aston Martin Rapide, the AMVOX2 Transponder demonstrate the design and engineering collaboration between these two long-established companies; both leaders in their respective fields and partners since 2004.

The AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder incorporates a miniature transmitter system serving to lock and unlock Aston Martin Rapide, while maintaining the functions of the now famous vertical-trigger mechanism – the pushpiece-free chronograph. As the driver nears the car, all he need do is press the OPEN position on the watch glass (between 8 and 9 o’clock) in order to activate the door opening system, whereas doing the same thing on the CLOSE position between 3 and 4 o’clock will close the vehicle.

By pressing simultaneously on the “OPEN” and “CLOSE” rectangles, the watch emits a signal recognized by the car as a “find me” function: the headlamps light up for several seconds, without unlocking the car, so as to enable the owner to find the car at a glance.

By integrating the transponder circuit into the body of the watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre has created a timepiece that is entirely functional yet discreet, a masterpiece of miniaturization and engineering that not only functions as a chronograph but as a key, making it the ultimate accessory for the ultimate sports car.

A titanium and pink gold case, a Rapide design
The AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder is issued in a version equipped with a vertical trigger device that appears for the first time in a two-tone version: the base including the lugs and crown is entirely made of satin-brushed 18-carat pink gold, while the pivoting case is crafted in brushed grade 5 titanium.

The black dial of the AMVOX Rapide Transponder is adorned with a grille-type motif and bears rhodium-plated metallic numerals coated in the center with a luminescent black substance. The movement operating indicator at 6 o’clock carries the Aston Martin wing emblem. The Rapide symbol, which is gilded as are the hands and hour markers, appears to be floating in the center in a window revealing the ruthenium mainplate and bridges of the exquisitely refined movement.

The minute and hour chronograph counters are in aluminum, another first for this watch line. The outer dial ring bearing the OPEN/CLOSE transponder indications provides a glimpse between 4 and 8 o’clock of the fascinating lever mechanism controlling the chronograph functions and featuring a break caliper design.

The fruit of pioneering research bridging innovative watchmaking and high technology
The miniaturization of the transponder module, housed on the base, its wiring and its transmitter antenna have been completely redesigned from a watchmaking perspective, combining technical inventiveness with a subtle and elegant integration within the overall design. The research and development required over 18 months of dedicated work by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s engineers, as well as intense collaboration from Aston Martin.

While it is relatively easy to understand how to operate the AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder, actually making it represents a daunting challenge in both technical and design terms. In a first phase, the engineers focused on miniaturizing each part of the transponder in order to reduce it to a size that could fit inside a watch case featuring a thickness and diameter ensuring optimal user-friendliness and comfort – while also meeting the technical and security specifications inherent to the car itself. The end result is a module weighing just a few grams and less than half the size of the same system inside the Rapide key.

Nonetheless, miniaturization was just one of the stages in a global process that led researchers to entirely rethink the geometry and the wiring from a watchmaker’s perspective – a high-tech feat that called for 18 months of meticulous engineering work. Developers also had to take account of a major technical constraint.

A mechanical watch acts like a Faraday’s cage that protects the movements from the influences of electrical fields that may adversely affect the rating precision. Therefore, in order to endow the timepiece with the reliability of Jaeger-LeCoultre movements and to enable the transponder to operate despite the neighboring metal oscillating weight, an innovative antenna had to be created.

The solution lay in placing the antenna as far as possible from the watch mechanism and the case, and lengthy research resulted in using the sapphire crystal as a medium. The antenna is metallized on the inside of the sapphire crystal in a shape following the curve of the inner bezel ring between 4 and 6 o’clock, and is connected at these strategic points to the locking control contact rectangles (OPEN and CLOSE).

Contrary to the chronograph vertical-trigger mechanism based on pivoting the entire case and bezel, activating and deactivating the AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder locking system does not involve any displacement of any part of the watch, occurring instead merely by making contact with the OPEN and CLOSE zones. This connection is facilitated by capacitive technology, which has the property of reacting to touches on a given surface.

Only Aston Martin dealerships will be able to authorize the timepiece to ‘read’ and communicate with the owner’s specific Rapide, ensuring that security and privacy are maintained at all times.

A resolutely high-tech integrated construction
The AMVOX 2 Rapide Transponder builds on the AMVOX2 Chronograph, first introduced in 2006. The Chronograph was a revolution in watchmaking, with a start, stop and reset mechanism operated by pushing on the sapphire crystal face of the watch; there are no push-buttons. The mechanism within the AMVOX2 is extraordinarily sophisticated, using 0.1mm diameter bearings to give mechanical feedback to the stop-start action using the dial.

A three-position cursor rounds off this revolutionary construction. Positioned on the side of the case at 9 o’clock, this selection device serves to lock either the whole set of chronograph controls or only the resetting device, thereby ensuring that the functions are not accidentally started, stopped or reset by the driver’s inadvertent hand or arm motions.

Equipped with Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 751E, the watch combines extraordinary mechanical innovation with the qualities of reliability and precision that are the hallmarks of all Jaeger-LeCoultre mechanisms. The 65-hour power reserve further increases the length of time during which the watch can be relied on to function with optimal accuracy.

Meanwhile, a complex column-wheel (a defining feature in high-end chronographs) and an extremely sophisticated vertical coupling system guarantee the precision timing of the chronograph. The adjustment of the balance wheel’s inertia thanks to the presence of four screws on its felly or rim ensures the setting remains stable in all conditions. Finally, the rotor’s ball-bearing mechanism contains ceramic balls providing the valuable advantage of never needing lubrication, thus further enhancing the watch’s long-term reliability.

The AMVOX watch collection represents an extraordinary alliance between horological expertise, automobile performance and aesthetic refinement. Issued exclusively for Aston Martin owners, the AMVOX2 Rapide Transponder now joins the DBS model in bearing witness to the remarkable teamwork and research undertaken and pursued by both Aston Martin and Jaeger-LeCoultre in exploring the interaction between contemporary watchmaking and high technology.

The estimated retail is $40,000.

Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason is the founder of Professional Watches and specializes in writing, product photography, and digital marketing.