Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel
Cutting-edge watchmaking meets the very best of Grand Feu decoration
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel is the only example, in the last two years, where a Jaquet Droz timepiece had not yet gone under the lens of one of our photographer's camera. The watch was launched at the beginning of the year as a preview for their 280th anniversary, it anticipated a season of change that saw the brand showing its future ideas and summarizing its skill with the release of the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater.
If we were to leave aside the Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch and the innovative Grande Seconde Skelet-One collection, the Grande Seconde is Jaquet Droz's manifesto and its high-end versions with the Grand Feu decorated dial represent the zenith of the collection (before moving to the automaton family).
A similar configuration to that of the Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel can be found on the Grande Seconde Deadbeat Black Enamel. Despite the complication itself being different, the feelings that these two watches with a Grand Feu dial and a red gold case have in common are similar. The complication featuring almost perfect moon phases was designed to require an adjustment every 122nd year (every 122 years, and 46 days to be more precise) and it makes a mistake of one day every 2 years, 7 months, and 20 days.
The complication was inserted within a context of particular romanticism – in 2017 the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon was originally presented, in its gold version, with a Grand Feu ivory dial and it was a spontaneous success already during the press presentation in Basel, so much so that Jaquet Droz re-launched it at the beginning of 2018 with this second version.
As far as perception is concerned, the 18 carat red gold and black dial combination is quite unique, and the press images do not give justice to this - the black color is opaque, but incredibly deep, and you can really appreciate the workmanship of the dial with your naked eye without necessarily having to resort to a magnifying glass. The Grand Feu dial is the most refined decoration you could ever wish for on an authentic classic timepiece of fine watch-making; the dial is pre-enamelled and then baked at a temperature of 1000°C inside a small oven located in the brand's Ateliers d'Art division.
At the end of this process an 18 carat red gold ring featuring the days of the month (pointer date) is applied around the big seconds counter. Red gold and black have always represented a successful combination and if you take a look at the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel you cannot help but think of those classic golden three-hands timepieces with an onyx dial that used to be very popular in the 70s.
Considering the skill of its master decorators Jaquet Droz should consider the idea of crafting the Grand Feu dial in several colors. The black onyx is used for the moon circle, whose glossy opaque color lets you fully appreciate the moon and star hand-made crafting in 22 carat gold and 18 carat gold respectively by the same artisans that accurately make the details of a Loving Butterfly Automaton. Through these very same details you can identify a part of the added value of a Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel if compared to other competitors’ watches.
The Grande Seconde is a big watch since the 18 carat red gold case is 43mm wide around the sapphire crystal, but it then tapers at the very bottom, where its diameter is comparable to the size of the 2660QL3 caliber. More important than its identification code, it is interesting to find out that the caliber sports two barrels and 68 hours of power reserve, the balance spring and the pallet horns are made of silicon because if tradition can be considered as a plus side, technical specifications actually make a watch a ‘best in class’. Within such consistent set I would get rid of the ‘Jaquet Droz’ writing that is engraved on the case-back that I consider excessively large and I would only focus on the writing that is finely replicated on the gold oscillating mass.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel retails at €30,000, and it is an atypical classic watch in the gold classic watches panorama. The combination of decorative art and state-of-the-art mechanics is rare and some brands usually confine the Grand Feu to high-end complicated products only. The value of a Grand Feu is so evident that many brands are now swiftly moving back to it, whereas Jaquet Droz never abandoned it, but rather perfected it, and this is one of the reasons why a connoisseur of fine watch-making goes for a Jaquet Droz.
On a path of continuous improvement Jaquet Droz could work towards equipping its next Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel with a manually-wound caliber; it will certainly be less comfortable to use than an automatic watch, but I'm pretty sure that those who choose a Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel are not necessarily fans of comfort too.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Simona Bertogliatti)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®