Looking Through: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One

The number ‘8’ in Eastern folklore represents fortune, wealth and prosperity, and it’s even said that the more 8s there are in a visual presentation — it multiplies the luck. But if you turn the ‘8’ on its side, what do you see? The mathematical symbol for leminscate; infinity, in common speak.

If we could drive back the symbolism of the figure ‘8’ to fine watchmaker, Jaquet Droz, from them it stems from Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s very first iteration of the pocket watch that bore the stylised figure 8, circa 1785. For a time in the 18th century when the piano and fire extinguisher defined new technology, Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s Grande Seconde pocket watch evoked a minimalistic style that was ahead of its era.

Today, the Maison identifies the Grande Seconde as the first of its eight codes and one that has been an “eternal source of inspiration” in the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture. In celebrating its 280th anniversary this year, Jaquet Droz revived Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s pocket watch in a wristwatch version, christening it the Grande Seconde Tribute.

But in a bold step to give the iconic Grande Seconde a progressive, avant-garde edge, the Maison has now picked the watch’s dial apart, leaving nothing else save for the clearly discernable, lucky figure ‘8’. This extensively skeletonised version of the Grande Seconde has been named the Skelet-One.

The openworked movement is an exhibition of dark grey bridges that create a muted contrast for the red gold and white gold versions, while for the ceramic version, it looks to be seamlessly fused into the black case. All that remains is the sapphire crystal against the caliber 2663 SQ with all of its intricate components in clear view.

“Focusing on the codes of the Maison formulates an identity for the brand to distinguish itself,” muses CEO Christian Lattmann. “The most important development in our Grande Seconde collection is the Skelet-One. This was very important because we have not seen many opportunities to create different variations of the Grande Seconde in respect to the style and balance of the dial, which remains truthful to the collection.”

Flipping the watch over, we see that the winding rotor has also been cut down to size with two wings holding up the peripheral edge. Thereafter, what keeps the crystal disc and movement in place are five screws placed in strategic corners to keep it looking more artistic than mechanical. Upon closer observation, you’ll notice that the screws are symmetrically arranged, to face outwards, while the central screw at 12 o’clock is vertically aligned. These seemingly minor details are easy to overlook, however, this placement was derived from an existing armory system and adapted very thoughtfully by Jaquet Droz.

The three variations feature a 41mm case for the red and white gold versions, while the ceramic case is 41.5mm. Time is read off the main dial at 12 o’clock with the grande seconds dial below. The white gold version is decorated with a striking color contrast, with the dial screws and hands in blued steel. Operating on the automatic caliber 2663 SQ movement, the watch holds 68 hours of power reserve and is water resistant up to 30 meters. The red and white gold watches are dressed in classic black alligator leather straps. The Skelet-One in ceramic is dressed in a rolled-edged handmade strap in black fabric and finished with a black PVD stainless steel and ceramic folding clasp.

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