Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One
Is this the beginning of Jaquet Droz 2.0?
It seems incredible but this year marked the 280 years form the Jaquet Droz’s birth. It has been the year of celebrations and commemorative models, but a brand which has been on top for about three centuries has to use the opportunity to look at the future and be able to innovate. A chance or a “challenge”, as someone would say using an overindulge noun, a “requirement” as I maintain. For collections like the Grande Seconde the nouns “need” and “challenge” are interwoven: is it possible to innovate without betray the style of a watch which is identified with the brand?
Innovating an icon takes time, patience and lot of risk
The Grande Seconde is, for Jaquet Droz, like the 911 for Porsche: every line touched by Micheal Mauer (Head of design) and his team to get at 992 should have beeen assessed countless times. The same must have been for those, inside the Swiss maison, who have designed the lines of the new Grande Seconde Skelet-One.
Just because it carried the words “Grande” and “Seconde” must have generated as much excitement as apprehension, but personally I am glad for the risk taken by the brand, considering the final result: the Skelet-One collection, presented almost exclusively in the most precious metals (with the addition of a ceramic version), has been a Baselworld’s star because no one expected such a proposal from quite a conservative brand. It was easier to expect a masterpiece like the Tropical Bird Repeater than a Grande Seconde’s generation gap.
The risks connected with a skeleton watch and the Jaquet Droz’s interpretation
The skeleton watches are not very popular as some complicated of haute horlogerie are and the interpretation given by some brands is part of the demerit, because they focus on the decoration’s affectation rather than the pattern.
I can mention at least three skeleton watches which deserve more effort (and surely more manual work) than a tourbillon’s assembly and regulation, but they result heavy, at times baroque. Jaquet Droz has headed towards a design based on the lightness of the structure without simplify it, trying to give the due importance at the movements’ features.
In my opinion, the designers haven’t given space only at the masters’ abilities of the Ateliers d’Art, but especially at the master watchmakers and amazing calibers which the brand has in catalogue and is scarcely talked about. Although it is easily recognizable as a Grande Seconde, the choice of realizing a second disc with sapphire glass, is a way to reaffirm the centrality of mechanic on the time display, which represents a concept at the base of every skeleton watch.
Jaquet Droz 2663 SQ caliber
The main plate and the bridges are blackened: compared to a traditional Grande Seconde, the small dial of hours and minutes is in foreground and it is bolted to the plate through three pointy screws oriented towards the center of the dial.
The symmetry’s research is obvious even if it can’t be complete because of the presence of the winding crown’s stem and the gear train.
I believe that the case-back is even more interesting than the dial side: you can clearly see the two barrels (they ensure a total of 68 hours of maximum power reserve) and the beautiful gold winding mass which Jaquet Droz has left completely free from fineries so as not to cover the mechanic.
The brand should build from here to revisit, as much as possible, the aesthetic of its automatic calibers which have never excelled for the aesthetic as much as for the technique. The Jaquet Droz Skelet-One you see on here is one of eight specimen made in red gold, each priced at € 34,300.
A model conceived to celebrate such an important Anniversary has permanently become part of the product offering as it is confirmed by the fact the brand has previewed already a 2019 version featuring a black ceramic case, blued hands and screws and a blue matching strap.
The "risk" the brand has taken has therefore paid off; my personal opinion is that the brand is now working to highlight its skills as a refined watchmaker much more than in its recent past, as it clearly stands out if you a take a look at other collections too like the new SW Chrono, for example.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®