In a move that appears to mimic its best fictional client, Aston Martin has introduced a "James Bond-style" watch with transponder that can unlock the car doors. Unfortunately, it can't start the engine or fire missiles, but those developments have to be around the corner...
Available for the Aston Martin DBS, the AMVOX2 DBS Transponder is produced by its watch partner, Jaeger LeCoultre, making this the first watch with the ability to control access to a luxury sports car. By integrating the transponder circuit into the body of the watch, Jaeger-LeCoultre (established in 1883) 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 car accessory.
Only Aston Martin dealerships will be able to authorize the timepiece to communicate with the owner's DBS, ensuring security and privacy are maintained at all times.
The case and dial of the AMVOX2 DBS Transponder are highly detailed, featuring a suspended metallic grey DBS symbol, a discreet Aston Martin emblem on the movement operating indicator and ruthenium grey bridges, satin finish and a black dial that evoke the DBS instrument panel. The outer dial ring also has an opening that reveals the internal mechanisms of the chronograph and transponder functions, alluding to the exposed brake calipers visible behind the wheels of the DBS car. The AMVOX2 DBS Transponder incorporates a miniature transmitter serving to lock and unlock the Aston Martin DBS, while maintaining the functions of the now famous vertical-trigger mechanism - the push-piece-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) to activate the door opening system. Doing the same thing on the "close" position (between 3 and 4 o'clock) will lock the vehicle.
The miniaturization of the transponder module, housed on the base, its wiring and transmitting antenna, have been completely redesigned from a watchmaking perspective, combining technical inventiveness with an elegant integration within the overall design. The research and development required over 18 months of dedicated work by Jaeger-LeCoultre's engineers, with collaboration from Aston Martin.
While it is relatively easy to understand how to operate the AMVOX2 DBS 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 so it could fit inside a watchcase while also meeting the technical and security specifications inherent in the car itself. The result is a module weighing just a few grams and less than half the size of the same system inside the DBS ignition key.
Developers also had to take account of a major technical constraint. A mechanical watch acts like a Faraday's cage, protecting the movements from the influences of electrical fields that may adversely affect its accuracy. 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 case, and research resulted in using the sapphire crystal as a medium. Measuring exactly 128mm in length to guarantee an optimal range, the antenna is metallized on the inside of the sapphire crystal in a shape following the curve of the inner bezel ring and the hour-markers between 4 and 6 o'clock, and is connected at these strategic points to the locking control rectangles ("open" and "close").
The AMVOX 2 DBS 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. With a 65-hour power reserve to ensure optimum accuracy, the chronograph is engineered to remain stable in all conditions.
The AMVOX2 DBS Transponder features design characteristics that are shared with fine Aston Martin cars; from the distinctive 270˚ sweep of the black dial that resembles dashboard counters, to the luminescent numerals and white dials that evoke the DBS interior at night. The outer dial ring, with its circular satin finish, is interrupted between 4 and 8'o'clock to provide a glimpse of the lever mechanism that underpins the chronograph.
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