There are some lucky watch brands that, to find new inspiration for a watch, only have to open the pages of their archives or brand museum and take a look. Jaquet Droz is a good example. The brand was founded by Pierre Jacquet-Droz (1721-1790), a brilliant watchmaker who became famous in part for his watches, but also for his incredibly complex mechanical androids, automata such as The Writer, a statue of a young man who picks up a pen and signs his own name. Towards the end of his life, in 1784, he created a beautiful pocket watch with a very simple dial, nonetheless totally different with respect to anything done before. Based on a smaller circle for hours and minutes above and a larger circle for seconds below, it is now known as Grande Seconde, and the figure-of-eight motif it creates has become an icon for the brand. Pierre had travelled extensively and knew that eight was a lucky number for the Chinese, and so perhaps he was thinking specifically of this market where he had an agent.
In 2002, Jaquet Droz, which had been purchased by Swatch Group two years before, launched the Grande Seconde watch, transposing Pierre’s pocket watch design of 218 years previously onto a wristwatch. In 2011 the brand launched the Grande Seconde Quantième, with added date complication, and this year, 2014, exactly 230 years after the original, Jaquet Droz has renewed the dial design and movement with the Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel. The date is shown by a third hand indicating the numbers on a concentric ring just inside the seconds indications. It is separated from the rest of the dial by the use of a double enamelling process, so that the date ring is on a lower level. The changes in the movement incorporate the Swatch Group’s heritage of anti-magnetic technology in the form of a silicon balance spring.; it also has inverted horns on the pallet fork
The sapphire caseback displays an oscillating weight that is in part skeletonized to reveal more of the movement. The plates are decorated with fanning lines of Côtes de Genève, and the combination of grey metal and the sunburst movement gives the watch a double identity, contemporary through the caseback, classical on the front.
The double mainspring barrels give the automatic movement a power reserve of 68 hours. The watch is made in two diameters, 39 mm and 43 mm, and in two materials, white gold and red gold. Thickness is 12.13 mm. The prices of the four references reflect the different amount of gold used for the different case diameters: the two 39 mm watches cost CHF 20,000, the two 43 mm watches cost CHF 20,550.
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