The term “Côtes de Genève” refers to one of the most common decorations in watch-making; a so-called “commodity” in the jargon of economics, and it represents everything that is nowadays so common and widespread that it goes easily almost unnoticed. I think that it represents one of those very rare cases when, just for saying it, I simply transcribe a piece of information from the press-release and the technical paper of a model, without expanding it any further. The Côtes de Genève pattern has always been reserved for the decoration of the bridges of a calibre rather than the winding rotor of an automatic movement; it is made through an abrasion process applied to an area and is so rarely used on other parts and components of a timepiece other than its caliber, that it goes unnoticed.
An entire section of the Jaquet Droz's Grande Seconde collection features dials with a Côtes de Genève decoration; a tribute to history but also the ennobling of one of the patterns that contributes greatly to enhance the value of a decorated calibre when compared to a non-decorated calibre. We are quite used to seeing this type of pattern on the mechanic side of a movement and its best performance is obtained on manually-woundcalibreswith a ¾ plate but it is quite rare to see this motif being applied to a dial. When I refer to a dial, I am automatically leaving out skeletonized dials, where the decoration is actually applied to the bridges of the movement, thus completely losing the original and overall effect of this type of decoration that requires a full surface instead.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Côtes de Genève Blue's dial turns into a mirror when compared to that of any Grande Seconde timepiece and this particular type of decoration on the opaline blue dial, clearly shows how the personality of a classic timepiece could change when decorative art is used properly. Those like Jaquet Droz, who have developed the art of decoration and chronometry alike since the 18th century, are fully aware of the fact that, when it comes to the most classic type of watch-making, there could be no chronometry without decoration and vice versa; this is the unofficial motto that drives every single historic brand. In my personal opinion, this type of pattern follows what I call “the law of inverted proportionality” that exists between the owner and the photographer.
The more fascinating and versatile the aesthetic output of the dial on display, the more complicated it gets to manuevre the light that shines on the dial when you use a camera to take a picture of a timepiece; that's because that particular motif is an exceptional amplifier of reflexion. The Jaquet Droz Grande Second QuantièmeCôtes de Genève Blue is similar to a Grande Seconde with a white dial (matted and single-tone) when seen from above but it then acquires two tones at raising angles in comparison to the objective, where the two parts of the dial dramatically detach from each other and it looks as if the middle part were floating on a “sea of waves”, particularly when the light is so full that it changes the silhouette of the vertical stripes that, in a few degrees, turn from sharp edges to nuanced and light blue contours.
Is this an intelligent manner to communicate the geometry of the figure “eight”? Maybe it is, but it is also the opportunity to own something that bewitches you day after day in a different way. Jaquet Droz created four different types of dial with a Côtes de Genève decoration; two of them are coloured and the alternative to the blue colour is a chocolate brown hue. My preference goes to the blue version; it is the colour that has been most-widely used in the last years and the warmest too, for its Grande Seconde, the brand chose an opaline blue; a tone that is sober and coherent with the brand's philosophy and the collection alike. The small hand with its red edge within the dial of the continuous big seconds – a tribute to chronometry – is that of the date. Jacquet Droz should be given merit for reconciling customers and tradition; the majority of people expects to have a date window – at least according to the sales executives of the different brands – while traditionalists don't like date windows at all. In a nutshell, the “pointer date” viewing mode reconciles everybody's position by taking advantage of the logic behind the seconds indicator having a domineering position if compared to both the hours and the seconds hands; the same way it has always been since the origins of watch-making and the very idea behind chronometry.
The 43mm stainless-steel case is one of the Grande Seconde's pillars, it is the same case that we got familiar with through the Dual Time a while ago, while the calibre is slightly different; the 4Hz calibre with 68 hours of power reserve features a different automatic winding rotor – and one complication less too -. It is a matter of a different calculation time of the mass moment of inertia but of style too; a style that perfectly matches, in this case, the overall look of the Grande Seconde Quantième Côtes de Genève Blue. These might sound like tiny details but the design of a rotor plays an extremely important role in the style language of a timepiece and it alone could contribute to determine the style coherence of an item and its being perceived as a premium product; in my opinion, this is a brand's feature that always requires full consideration.
The blue alligator skin strap ends with a classic triple folding buckle that I have slightly “struggled” with – but less than in the past, when I had some issues trying to wear a Grande Seconde Dual Time. On this occasion, the credit goes to the blue alligator skin strap that is definitely softer than the black one, my general thought, however, is that the strap should be as soft as possible so as to make it easier and quicker to fasten the strap of the watch when you are in the boutique store. This is a characteristic that makes you immediately appreciate the watch; the same could be said of a tailor-made suit that needs no re-touching and thus represents the perfect business card for that brand.
A Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde QuantièmeCôtes de Genève Blue retails at 9,700 euro; one of the most accessible retail prices if you want to own one of the big names in the industry of watch-making that makes product, manufacturing and small niche production talk better than any advertising claims. Among the strengths of this timepiece; it is entirely in-house manufactured, the ever-changing Côtes de Genève dial, the artisanal high-end range production style. Among the features that could be improved; the opportunity to evaluate whether a manually-wound calibre should be crafted, without diminishing the real value of the beautiful automatic calibre, this particular choice would be the icing on the cake for one of the only manufacturers that pay tribute to the historic memory of the real Swiss tradition and chronometry alike.