Time to Move: Jaquet Droz Unveils the Grande Seconde Chronograph & the Magic Lotus AutomatonBy Stephanie Ip
At Time To Move, the Swatch Group’s inaugural watch event for six of its high end brands, Jaquet Droz unveils exciting new additions to its Grande Seconde collection and wows us with a unique magical automaton that fills us with Zen.
The Grande Seconde collection is perhaps Jaquet Droz’s most emblematic, its design instantly recognisable with its overlapping registers that form a central number “8” on the dial. The wristwatch made its debut in 2002 but the design is over 200 years old, based on an archival pocket watch from Pierre Jaquet-Droz, the brand’s namesake founder.
Grande Seconde Chronograph
It might come as a surprise to some, but this is the first time Jaquet Droz has ever made a monopusher chronograph in its collections, and they have made many complications. The Monopusher chronograph is not a rare complication per se, but to truly master it is still quite an undertaking. It was also, in Jaquet Droz’s case, a challenge to build a chronograph movement to fit the Grande Seconde collection’s distinctive aesthetic.
The brief was simple on paper, not as much so in execution: the watchmakers at Jaquet Droz had to create an in-house movement that kept to the clean lines of the Grande Seconde. To do so, the team used a column wheel construction and incorporated a silicon balance spring to guarantee resistance to magnetic fields and temperature variations.
But more than that, the movement comes with deadbeat seconds, which literally beats the seconds and facilitates the measurement and reading of shorter durations of time.
An Inaugural Edition with an Enamel Dial
The new chronograph is launched in several models, with a highly limited premiere model in red gold and Grand Feu enamel dial that is a direct tribute to the shape and form of the earliest pocket watches by Pierre Jaquet-Droz.
The Arabic and Roman numerals on the dial are faithfully produced using another famed firing technique, Petit Feu enamel. And while the hour, minute and date hands are in red gold, the chronograph seconds and minute hands are in blued steel, matching the minute and second displays on the chronograph in blue Petit Feu enamel for easier reading. Only 88 pieces are made.
A Standout in Steel
To compliment the limited edition, Jaquet Droz is presenting three more contemporary variations of the timepiece. Unlike the limited edition, the trio are cased in steel, measure 43mm, the typical case size for the Grande Seconde collection, and feature dial options of sand-blasted silver, blue or a taupe grey. And trust Jaquet Droz to up the ante in any way they can. Instead of using the more common method of wet sand-blasting, the dial is finished by hand using a dry sand-blasting technique that enhances the depth of graining on the finishing. Blue and taupe are also two colours hitherto unseen at Jaquet Droz.
But the star feature of the new steel versions are the off-centered dial, a fresh twist to the centre figure 8 we’re so used to seeing from the watchmaker. The register for hours and minutes are found at 1 o’clock, as opposed to the limited-edition version where the register is positioned at 12 o’clock. The crown on the steel Grande Seconde Chronograph is also repositioned at 4 o’clock.
Grande Seconde Dual Time
Travel has always been close to the heart of Jaquet Droz. Since 1758, its founders have found their way across the globe as far as China as pioneers of the international clockmaking trade. Thus, the Grande Seconde Dual Time has always been an important timepiece for the brand and in the latest version, the aesthetic has been completely revised while keeping to the design codes of the Grande Seconde.
The same self-winding mechanical calibre with silicon balance spring and pallet lugs is used, with the top register displaying local time with jumping hour, and the bottom register displaying seconds on the outer rim, date wheel and home time on the 24 hour scale.
What’s new on this model is at the heart of the bottom half of the signature figure 8, an azimuthal map projection that depicts the world’s continents as seen from the North Pole. A powdery finish is chosen for the world map, which is displayed against a polished backdrop of black or anthracite.
Four versions of the Grande Seconde Dual Time is released today, with two in steel with an onyx or silvery opaline dial, and two in red gold with an ivory or black Grand Feu enamel dial. The watch is on the large side at 43mm–all the better to admire the immaculate finishing on the dial, we say.
Magic Lotus Automaton
While the Grande Seconde is the emblem of Jaquet Droz, it is the whimsical, fantastical world of automaton animals that we love most about the brand. Some watches tell time, but these automatons tell a story. In the past, we’ve been thoroughly charmed by the various bird repeaters, extensively entertained by its modern doll automata, and swept off our feet by its heritage pieces.
But the new Magic Lotus Automaton, Jaquet Droz, is their most unprecedented animation yet. The new automaton features an exceptionally long animation that runs to more than four minutes, where a naturalist fresco unfolds like zen garden right before your eyes.
There are four lotus flowers on the dial, each representing a season that floats on the aqua blue dial. A mother-of-pearl bud represents spring, while mother-of-pearl petals form the flowers for the spring and summer versions, with a yellow sapphire crowning the fully bloomed summer lotus. Seven diamonds depicting a seed pod at 6 o’clock represent winter. Upon action, a Koi fish moves along the water and can even dive beneath the lotus leaves.
The Magic Lotus Automaton measures 43mm in diameter and comes in either red gold or white gold (limited to 28 pieces each). The magic continues at the back of the timepiece, where the bridges and oscillating weight are hand-engraved with nature motifs, echoing the carp and lotus flowers on the dial side. With 500 components in the movement and four patents pending, the Magic Lotus is the most sophisticated Jaquet Droz dial yet.
Grande Seconde Chronograph
Self-winding Jaquet Droz 26MSR caliber; off-centered hours and minutes, center chronograph seconds, mono pusher chronograph 30-minute subdial at 6 o’clock (7 o’clock for steel version), retrograde date display; 40-hour power reserve
43mm 18K red gold case or stainless steel; water resistant to 30 meters
Multi-level ivory Grand Feu enamel dial on the red gold version; sandblasted grey or blue on the steel version
Dark-blue alligator leather with matching ardillon buckle
Limited 88 pieces for 18K red gold version
Grande Seconde Dual Time
Self-winding Jaquet Droz 2663H24 caliber; off-centered local hours, off-centered pointer-type seconds; date display; reference time on 24-hour disc; 65-hour power reserve
43mm stainless steel; water resistant to 30 meters
Silver opaline, black onyx, black enamel or ivory enamel
Blue alligator leather with matching folding clasp
Magic Lotus Automaton
Self-winding Jaquet Droz 2653 AT2; hand-wound mechanical automaton movement with push-button triggering mechanism; off-centered hours and minutes; 68-hour power reserve
43mm 18K red gold or white gold; water resistant to 30 meters
Hand-engraved and hand-painted white mother-of-pearl dial; black onyx subdial
Dark green alligator leather with matching folding clasp
Limited 28 pieces for the white gold version