The Grande Seconde SW by Jaquet Droz, 2014 version

The 2014 version of the Grande Seconde SW by Jaquet Droz is a good example of how this watch brand has used one of its historic motifs, bringing it into our design-oriented present. The sporty Grande Seconde SW had alreay been introduced in 2008, and this year, three new versions have been launched, in which the fundamental new features are an alligator leather strap (instead of the rubber original) and the Côtes de Genève decoration on the dial. The result is visually interesting, with many details that contribute to the satisfying overall texture. The watch has a sartorial flavour.

The dial design is part of the Jaquet Droz heritage. The company was founded in 1738 by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, who moved to Geneva in 1784 and set up the city’s first watchmaking factory. A year later he created the Grande Seconde dial pattern for a pocket watch, with a figure-of-eight arrangement in which the top subdial for hours and minutes intersects with the bottom subdial for seconds. Perhaps Pierre felt that it was important to be able to see at a glance that the watch was running correctly, with the seconds hand moving constantly round the dial, or perhaps it was a feature useful for doctors, or perhaps he just liked the suggestion of infinity. Whatever, it was a powerful piece of design and it has underscored many of the brand’s products ever since.
One of the features of Pierre’s original design, maintained in this 2014 piece, is the way in which Roman numerals are used on the upper subdial for hours and minutes, and Arabic numerals on the subdial for seconds. At the intersection, the hour numerals change from Roman to Arabic.

The Côtes de Genève vertical strips motif is usually used to decorate movements. The pattern gives the dial a vertical feel that is contrasted by a horizontal steel band across its diameter. The two subdials are set at a lower level, each with a bezel in satin-finish steel, giving a sense of depth to the dial. As in the 1785 pocket watch, the hands of the two subdials are very different: hour and minute hands have tips with SuperLuminova for visibility in the dark.

The bezel looks like it rotates, but in fact the notches are simply a design feature. A crown guard at 3 o’clock is mirrored by the same structure at 9 o’clock. The crown itself has a rubber cap that facilitates use.

Turning the watch over reveals more of the Jaquet Droz world. The automatic movement, Jaquet Droz 2663A-S, has two barrels for a power reserve of 68 hours. The oscillating weight in white gold is open-worked to reveal more of the movement, which is finished with Côtes de Genève strips. The metal is ruthenium-coated, adding to the modern look. The three-leafed clover motif that appears on the movement is Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s secret signature, applied to all his movements, a habit that the brand continues today.

The 2014 version of the Grande Seconde SW is available in three colours, light grey, anthracite grey and blue, and in two dial diameters, 41 and 45 mm. It costs CHF 15,150 in Jaquet Droz boutiques in Switzerland.
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