Back in the 18th century, Pierre Jaquet-Droz wowed the courts of Europe with his Automates – three humanoid dolls, about one-third life-sized, that could variously write, draw and play music with uncannily lifelike gestures. Intended to promote his clocks and watches, and powered by scaled-up versions of mechanical watch movements, they were a stroke of marketing genius – as well as a remarkable demonstration of his skills. Eighteen years ago, when Swatch Group revived Jaquet Droz, it harnessed that legacy – developing automata on the minuscule scale needed to fit inside contemporary watches. This meant men’s watches, as Jaquet Droz had no collection specifically for women in the first 13 years of its modern existence. Then came the Lady 8 collection. Launched in 2013, its design adopted the brand’s signature figure-of-eight but rather than confining it to the dial, expanded it to create a sculptural double loop. The watch-case itself formed the larger circle and an extension formed the smaller, upper circle of the eight. Within that smaller circle lay a pearl or a polished stone, set invisibly so that it could be rolled this way and that, under the fingers – like a very sophisticated and sensual fidget toy…. Read More
You’d be forgiven if you missed the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dog when it was released at Baselworld as a novelty piece as part of the brand’s Ateliers d’Art collection. However, once you’ve seen it, it truly is hard to forget. The JD PHM Relief Dog was created specifically to celebrate The Year of the Dog, which is the eleventh of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. Now, aside from the caseback, which we will get to, the dial on the PHM Relief Dog really is something special, thanks to an extraordinary amount of detail and craftsmanship. With just hour and minute hands, Jaquet Droz have kept functionality simple on this time-only watch, creating a piece that is about the more delicate details. The dial really is a showpiece, featuring an 18k yellow gold hand-engraved Pekingese dog playing with butterflies under plum trees, which are made from 23k yellow gold. A black onyx subdial pops against the passionate red cuprite dial, which itself is an unusual dial material (cuprite is an oxide mineral composite). Movement-wise, the in-house Jaquet Droz 2653.Si, with a 68-hour power reserve, will keep the… Read More
Jaquet Droz is a brand that has built its reputation on incredible automata and extravagant finishing. Fluttering birds, delicate miniature painting, and exquisite handcrafts are all par for the course for the brand. Which is why this watch, the Astrale Grande Heure Minute, was such a surprise. It’s no less beautiful, but much more spartan in its style. In fact, besides two hands, some tiny hour markers and some words, there’s hardly anything on this dial at all. This Astrale has been pared back to its most essential elements, and I’ve got to say the strength of the design holds up on its own. For me, it’s a completely different look for Jaquet Droz, and a good one for Australia. If Jaquet Droz is a brand you’ve never considered before, I’d suggest checking out the latest Astrale. It might just change your mind. Jaquet Droz Astrale Grande Heure Minute Australian pricing Jaquet Droz Astrale Grande Heure Minute, in steel, $11,250
One of the things I love most in watches is when a brand challenges my preconceptions. That’s exactly what happened in Jaquet Droz’s Basel booth earlier this year. I was surrounded by writing machines, jewelled butterflies, automata of all shapes and sizes (well, not really, but you get my point), and then BAM! I saw the Skelet-One. I mean, sure, technically it’s part of the Grande Seconde family (just like the Tribute), but to my mind it’s aggressive modernity meets classical proportion and peerless finish. A seductive mix, indeed. In and of itself the skeletonisation is very cool, but the real deal-sealer is the sapphire subdial. Not only does it look like the titular seconds hand is floating on air, it allows maximum light into that golden case, to great effect. Minimal dial. Maximum impact. Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Australian Pricing Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One, $44,950.
Two hundred and eighty years is pretty big as far as milestones go. So, given that Jaquet Droz is marking the big two-eight-o this year, you’d expect them to have a few tricks up their sleeve … and you wouldn’t be disappointed. They’ve released this special version of their signature watch — the Grande Seconde Tribute, a limited edition of 88 pieces cased, for the first time, in yellow gold. The original precious metal is perfectly paired with the warm ivory tones of the Grand Feu dial, printed with the characteristic dual dials — including the oversized seconds hand that gives the watch its name. It’s a design that is quite timeless, yet not old-fashioned, due in no small part to the fact that Jaquet Droz has executed the whole affair with restraint and taste. I particularly liked that the individual number of the watch (5 in this case) is printed on the dial. Classy stuff. Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Tribute Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Tribute, in yellow gold, $28,650.
Just because Jaquet Droz is a relative newcomer to Australia doesn’t mean they don’t have history. The brand dates back to the mid-18th century, and, besides watches and clocks, is famous for their incredible automata. And while the incredibly complex, high-end art/engineering pieces are still important for the brand, we thought we’d keep it real and focus on their slightly more down-to-earth offerings from Baselworld 2018, offerings that focused heavily on their signature Grande Seconde model, with its oversized seconds subdial. And like any good signature model, the Grande Seconde is versatile. It excels at traditional — as evidenced by the black enamel moonphase model, and the yellow gold and grand feu Tribute — but can pivot nicely to contemporary, with the addition of a ceramic case or skeletonised treatment. Excellent stuff from a niche brand, with a strong and sophisticated identity.
Last year, Jaquet Droz rolled out a first round of the Grande Seconde Moon in three editions, including two steel models, and an ivory-coloured enamel dial cased in red gold. Building on the model’s success (and the growing popularity of black and gold wristwatches across the board), the brand added a fourth model to the collection at Baselworld 2018 in the form of this elegant-yet-modern black enamel model cased in red gold. Given how smitten I was with the first iterations — especially the beautiful level of detail in the execution of their moonphase complication — I couldn’t wait to take a closer look. Vital statistics As noted, the changes with this new model are entirely visual. Powered by the self-winding caliber 2660QL3, which features a silicon hairspring and a pair of mainspring barrels delivering at 68-hour power reserve, its moonphase complication was executed to maintain accuracy for 122 years and 46 days before requiring a 1-day correction. I always find these sort of stats a little humorous, as this accuracy is effectively useless unless the caliber is maintained fully wound and running for that duration of time (which, by the way, is impossible considering the need for servicing along the way)…. Read More
The story in a second: Just check out that dial. ’Nuff said. Outside of their amazing automata and elaborate enamel work, the flagship Jaquet Droz collection is their Grande Seconde, with its distinctive, clean design dominated by two subdials, one for the time, the other for seconds. When we saw this version at Basel this year, we quickly fell under its spell. It has a dramatic quality that sets it apart from more conservative dress pieces. And the dial? Well, we’ll get to that. All told it’s a super-minimal, elegant, stylish watch – a versatile design that works well with an extravagant dial finish or added complication. The example we’re looking at today offers a little of both, adding a calendar function (that’s the ‘Quantième’ in the model name, for any non-linguists in the house) as well as a beautifully finished dial. The most commonly seen Grande Secondes are the more formal enamel-dialled offerings, which look best paired with a crisp white cuff. This version, on the other hand, creates a totally different look with its rich blue dial finished with Geneva stripes and applied opaline subdials. Still elegant, but far less buttoned-up, this would be in its element with… Read More