JeanRichard at Baselworld 2015
Three years ago, at Baselworld 2013, JeanRichard decided to embark on an important re-branding project, that led to a simplification of its product portfolio, and to the realization of a single case architecture, from which to develop three variations, from the more classic to sportier ones, to which the 1681 manufactured caliber collection was added. A brave move for the La Chaux de Fonds maison, which boasts an important role in high-end watchmaking’s history, but decided to introduce an entry level collection with an unparalleled quality to price ratio.
Although I recall with pleasure the case of a Paramount Square and some of its appealing technical features, this three-year period confirmed the success of the strategy put in place by the brand; this started off by offering a single case design, the coussin one. It then improved its details and finishes, redefined its clear brand identity, and proposed four new collections. The “modular” scheme, perhaps meaningless to the general public, is in fact the starting point of the new product offering, and it explains why JeanRichard is the brand that has, overall, launched the biggest number of technical and aesthetic variations of the classic three hands timepiece.
At Baselworld 2015 JeanRichard proves to be a mature brand, with a wide offering that also includes a 39mm women’s collection. It also started to introduce some mechanical complications, and has accelerated the development and the introduction of advanced materials such as carbon fiber, a choice that allows aficionados easier access to a technology that is usually found on watches costing at least 15-20k€. This introduction leads us to a summary of the most interesting new timepieces, in my opinion, that JeanRichard has launched in Basel, the flagship being the new GMT complication, a great achievement in terms of neat design and readability, and the best evidence of the brand’s development and growth.
Few other complications could be more suited to the Terrascope, JeanRichard’s most widely appreciated model I guess, and it comes with a “rubbergator” strap, a special kind of rubber that resembles an alligator strap. Designers have carefully redesigned the GMT’s dial, keeping the applied indexes while using small Arabic numerals, placed every four hours, on the inner 24 hours scale. The small blue hour hand of the second timezone reminds of the central hour’s big one (featuring a big arrow), a hallmark of a JeanRichard. There will be three Terrascope GMT’s versions: black, blue and grey. In all of them the indexes are applied, rhodium plated in the first two versions, in blackened nickel in the last. Inside the case beats a JR62 caliber, an automatic movement beating at 4Hz, derived from the JR60 and visible through the case back, a novelty if compared to earlier Terrascopes, whose rotor featuring the JR logo creates that certain family feeling with the 1681, the manufactured collection, than before.
The Terrascope, both in its 44mm and in the 39mm sizes, of which we’ve seen a preview last February, now features a textile patterned blue dial and blue suspended indexes, the only difference being that the men’s version adopts a blue rubber strap, while the model for ladies features a blue ostrich strap. The 44mm is priced at 2700€, the 39mm version for ladies comes at €2200. A few years ago I said that, in time, the Aeroscope collection would soon adopt the most advanced materials and I was not wrong, but this year the Terrascope has turned out to be a chrono with a carbon fiber case, as it had already happened last year with the introduction of the Terrascope Chrono Carbon Arsenal: the Terrascope Chrono Carbon will be made in just 200 pieces, and will feature a case made from a multilayer of unidirectional fibers. Each set of unidirectional carbon fibers ensures an excellent resistance to traction along its axis, but it weakens the more you move away from it, if one applies a force along an axis that is perpendicular to the fiber’s direction.
Multiple layers, with a different fiber displacement between two consecutive ones, are then overlapped, to increase the final compound’s resistance. Take a look at the case’s matte greyish color, that clearly contrasts with the black counters’one. I believe that chronograph and carbon fiber work better on the Terrascope, where the tachy scale is also blackened, than on an Aeroscope; vice versa I believe that the Aeroscope is a winner when the case is made in steel or titanium (as we see for instance on the Aeroscope 208 Seconds). The price of 8100€ is not for everyone, but it’s among the most competitive, if not the most competitive on the market. It is what one needs to estimate if you choose a carbon fiber watch.
Making a carbon fiber case requires a dedicated production process and tooling that’s miles away from the standardization and big numbers needed to make a stainless steel case. The pay-off is a hi-tech military-looking timepiece, light, hypoallergenic, and very resistant. I do hope that, in the near future, process standardization will help lower the production costs, as it is in fact the case with the automotive industry, for carbon fibers solutions are very appealing in fine watchmaking.
The coolest surprise from JeanRichard at Baselworld 2015 is, however, a simple watch: the new Aquascope with white dial, and a blue and orange bezel. It gives this collection a bolder personality. It looks like the Blue and Orange Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk’s little brother. (HERE is our review). The bezel is a classic blue aluminum ring with an orange 15 minutes scale, and suspended indexes with orange luminescence. At 13,15mm, its thickness is only slightly higher than the Terrascope’s, which stops at a very comfortable 12,60mm. I’m trying to picture how that bezel would look like if the inlay were made in ceramic. I don’t know its retail price but I imagine it to be, as for the Terrascope, below the 3000€ threshold.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®