Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time Silver - There has never been a more beautiful number 8
For the last three years, a visit to the Basel fair could be described both as an exciting and hectic experience that doesn't let the visitor fully enjoy the new products on display. Among the many happy moments that Baselworld can offer, there is one that takes place on the opening Thursday, a day that is entirely devoted to the press; thirty minutes of real watch-making spent at the Jaquet Droz's booth located on the second floor. Thirty full minutes, when one is given the chance to fully enjoy the Automata unveiled by the manufacturer. If it is true that there was only one Leonardo, it is also true that the world of watch-making has given us many personalities - and, luckily, still does so in a very fruitful manner – who, in their respective sectors, represent many ingenious inventors. Pierre Jaquet-Droz is one of them; he was a very important personality in the world of watch-making towards the middle/end of the 18th century. He is the man, whose name is linked to the concept of “automaton” in watch-making and whose creations opened the doors of the Forbidden City to the western world for the very first time. He was also an incredible entrepreneur, who could boast at least three manufactures located between his birthplace (La Chaux de Fonds), Geneva and the European capital of that time; London.
That tradition hasn't gone lost but it was passed on up to the year 2016. Empires and noble courts might be something from the past but Jaquet Droz has never stopped creating watches with the same philosophy and the same dedication of the 18th century, bringing forward the spirit that animated the company's founder and adding in the very best of technology without downgrading its heritage by an ounce. Those of you, who are avid haute-horlogerie connoisseurs, will be happy to know that, nowadays, Jaquet Droz crafts Automata, Ateliers d'Art and Grand Feu decorations using the same strength and techniques with which it keeps improving its precision in time-keeping.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time Silver is the first level of complication on a scale that starts off with the brand's iconic model (time-only) and goes up to the 28 pieces of the Grande Seconde Minute Repeater. The pattern in the shape of an eight was inherited from a golden pocket-watch from 1784 and, from that day on, it has become Jaquet Droz's signature. Is it a tribute to China and its lucky number? Possibly so, since China has always been one of Jaquet Droz's main markets or, perhaps, it is simply an homage to time-keeping and a lucky pattern; we will never know! At 12 o'clock, on the dial, is a smaller dial showing the local time, whose radius appears to be about 3/4 of the radius of the big seconds counter. That's the perfect balance that Jaquet Droz managed to achieve; we could call it the brand's “golden ratio”. The number 8 is not complanar with the opaline dial but its outer beveled edge and the hours/minutes/seconds scale is embossed and it sports a light “chemin de fer” scale that is extremely discreet but well visible.
The second time zone is located on an even lower level of the dial, it features a very light chamfer (about 15 degrees), so one can discern its tridimensionality, the readability, nevertheless, is perfect and one can't really notice the big visual gap. The two hands indicate the 12-hour-indication of the city where you land and the date respectively, using the “pointer-date-display”. There is no model belonging to the Grande Seconde collection that displays an opening on the dial; all the indications are solely analogical and make this timepiece one of the most balanced high-end watches in the world. This also makes me happy and the same thing can be said for all those people, who would rather not see that opening on the dial at all. If you pull the winding crown by a short, precise and single click, you can adjust the hours hand independently from the minutes one. If you pull the winding crown completely, the hours, the minutes and the hand of the second time zone (date included) will move all at the same time. Crafting a high-end timepiece doesn't simply mean creating its decorations and its finest details but it also requires that the whole user's experience is successful and exceptional.
One should experience the feeling that one gets when one stops the winding crown in first position (the first click) and then rotates it in the two directions to adjust the hours hand. Its consistency and the sensation that it gives back, make one fully understand how much attention to detail was needed to come up with it; a type of attention that no picture or video will ever be able to explain. From this point of view, I find a small weakness in the triple folding clasp that is perfectly crafted with two small ball bearings made of ceramic, I guess, on the short side, it is not that easy to buckle it, at least when the alligator-skin-strap is brand new and quite stiff.
Aesthetically speaking, the finely knurled crown brings back the same shape as the 43mm-case crafted in three different parts: the bezel, the central ring and the screw-less case-back, where the central part tapers dramatically towards the middle; a smart way to probably mitigate the size of the automatic caliber compared to the largeness of the case. The sapphire glass sports an unusual geometry; it is neither flat nor a “glass box”; it is actually a mixture between the two styles, where the central part is bent in the middle to then flatten up towards the outer part.
The Jaquet Droz 2663H24 automatic caliber is a wonderful in-house built caliber with bridges sporting a "soleil" motif. The caliber inherited the silicon-made balance spring by the technology-filled reservoir of the group, it sports a splendid rotor that is finely engraved and that, strangely enough, doesn't resemble the famous eight-shape that identifies this collection. The caliber runs silently at a rate of 4Hz and stops after 65 hours when fully-wound. On one of the bridges is the classic clover that is also the brand's logo; Pierre Jaquet-Droz's signature since the time he started creating his mechanic calibers; a habit that is quite common among all the big watch-makers.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time Silver is an extremely beautiful and atypical proposal in the most accessible range of high-end watch-making. When I use the term “atypical”, I refer to its particular and tireless style. Among the reasons why one should purchase this timepiece, I list its exceptional making and attention to even the smallest details in the first position; it is a watch that was thought out and crafted with the most demanding customer in mind. I have already said how nice it is to use it even before trying it on, I have also underlined what I would change about it and I am referring to something purely aesthetic. In an overall where the base is the geometry defining this timepiece, I would have developed the same concept for the rotor's pattern too. The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Dual Time Silver is completely in-house built, numbered, and it retails at 16,600 euros.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter