Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic
The big gamble.
Usually, I'm not too fond of a sporty take on an original classic watch, and I admit I was a bit skeptic when the first official picture of the 2019 Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic was released. Although I believe the premium brands belonging to the Swatch Group have paved the way in making ceramic watches, I nonetheless generally think that crafting a ceramic luxury watch is always a challenge, especially when the origin is a skeletonized gold one. Jaquet Droz gambled with this new luxury skeletonized zirconia-oxide based timepiece. Did it work? Let's find out.
The original gold wristwatch, introduced last year, belongs to the collections crafted to celebrate the 280th anniversary of the brand, and represents the most significant change, from a product perspective, in the last ten years or so, for a brand that is renowned as the King of automaton. It was a significant challenge for the Jaquet Droz's executives and Product Managers as well, and a gamble they won hands down. The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One project is a new visionary take on the Grande Seconde signature collection, sort of a brand within the brand, that gives the eight-shaped design a new look, where mechanics and engineering stand out.
Jaquet Droz is not new to ceramics: the Grande Seconde Ceramic is a long-standing piece in the current collection, yet the Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic set new standards: the ceramic case has a black-grayish tone, and the upper part is, lugs included, satin-finished, whereas case side and crown are meticulously highly polished.
Despite its intricate and sophisticated design, it looks gorgeous, and the dial is not busy; as seen from atop, the matte finish softens any excess that is ordinary when you're dealing with a gold skeleton watch, especially when that design comes in shining gold or platinum. Bridges and winding rotor have undergone different surface treatments, of course, that perfectly contrast the black-gray polished case.
The slim-designed winding rotor is a piece of art, other than being crafted in white gold for reasons related to mass inertia and winding capability (it winds up two barrels to a total 68-hour power reserve) and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts, thus contributing to the Jaquet Droz 2663 SQ caliber's remarkable engineering and beauty.
I have had the privilege of wearing and enjoying several Jaquet Droz timepieces in the last three years or so, and the majority of them were all Grande Seconde; I rank the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic among the most surprising designs ever introduced by the Swiss brand; with this new product variation, brand lure and luxury foothold have been safeguarded.
Many are the brands that lost their identity in an attempt to craft a ceramic luxury watch. Jaquet Droz instead redefined the Skelet-One while abiding by the rules set in the brand's identity and core values: the Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic feels premium and is quintessentially a Grande Seconde.
My original skepticism turned into enjoyment when I first wrapped the watch around my wrist. Can be ceramics regarded as the new steel? Maybe it can, or perhaps cannot, it's such a personal choice, after all. What I do believe instead is that the gap between the two keeps closing at a fast pace. From a user-experience point of view, many are the pros when choosing a ceramic timepiece: it is scratch-resistant, it is athermic, it is hypoallergenic. Scratch-resistance is perhaps the most significant advantage since it preserves the product's look and virtually cuts down any cost related to aesthetic overhaul.
I'd instead suggest the brand to pay their attention to improving the product's comfort further: the strap is too stiff when the watch is new with tags, and I love wristwatches that perfectly wrap around my wrist since day one. It is an area of improvement that I have often highlighted in the past on the blog. From an aesthetical standpoint, I would prefer a more subtle pattern on the strap or, why not, would investigate external collaborations with equally outstanding brands. In this regard, I would pair this case to a silk woven strap made by a distinguished brand, like E. Marinella, for example. The price? A Grande Seconde Skelet-One Ceramic retails for 24,600€.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®