An Improved Skelet-OneBy Darren Ho
The Grande Seconde has been a Jaquet Droz design staple for centuries and remains a cool representative of the brand, one that crosses design paths from classic to contemporary. When the brand introduced the Skelet-One in 2018, a skeletonised and modernised edition of the watch, cutting down on extraneous material and combining it with a sapphire-crystal disc for the larger sub-seconds display, it was an applause-winning timepiece that surprised pundits. Rather than re-inventing a design, they took a classic and refreshed it for a 21st-century audience, one that has been very receptive to its style. The movement, the 2663 SQ had an all-black treatment on the skeleton bridges supporting the gear train, over which the dual displays were screwed down and secured to the case.
Last year saw new variants of the Skelet-One in ceramic, with blued hands and screws and paired with a white-gold oscillating weight and hour markers, which mixed new and classic styles of watchmaking in the right amounts. Meanwhile, precious-metal Skelet-One versions had a more traditional Jaquet Droz-style time display with Roman and Arabic numerals on a silvered disc.
In 2020, the brand has finally made the Skelet-One the model of a modern skeleton watch. The same caliber 2663 SQ powers the model in red gold and a new material, ceramic plasma. On the red-gold model, the classic time sees the Roman and Arabic numerals replaced with faceted hour markers in gold with matching hands on a slate grey disc. It complements the case and movement’s colour tones beautifully, and the skeletonised oscillating weight on the rear of the movement is also in red gold, virtually invisible from the front and only noticeable when it swivels around the 41mm case.
The new model is housed in ceramic plasma, a new technology to Jaquet Droz and what must be an adaptation from its sister brand Rado’s plasma high-tech ceramic. Typically, for ceramic to retain colors or textures, metal oxides are added to the zirconium, silicon or boron compounds; otherwise, it would be manifested in the form of a ceramic and metal composite, a range of materials known as cermet. In the case of high-tech ceramic plasma, a process that sees finished white ceramic material heated with a gas super-heated to 20,000 degrees Celsius (incidentally, that’s four times hotter than the surface of the Sun). The ceramic, reaching a temperature beyond 900°C, develops a warm metallic glow. On this model, the dial, case, bridges and oscillating weight are all in the same dark grey tone, with white-gold faceted markers for the time display and hands. A matching grey textile strap gives the ceramic plasma Skelet-One a truly stealth-like sexiness for today.
Self-winding caliber 2663 SQ; hours and minutes; large seconds; black treatment on skeleton movement bridges; gold skeleton rotor; 68-hour power reserve
41mm in red gold or 41.5mm in anthracite ceramic plasma; slate-grey dial with white gold markers and hands; sapphire-crystal seconds disc; water-resistant to 30m
Handmade grey alligator leather with rubberised texture (red-gold model); grey textile strap (ceramic plasma model)