If ever there was a flash of genius, it was the Grande Seconde by Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Just why he created that incredibly modern pocket watch in 1784 remains a lost secret, but there is no doubt that it remains a masterpiece of design, with the eye captured by the oversize seconds hand, and the smaller dial for hour and minutes with its numerals that switch from Roman to Arabic where it intersects with the seconds scale.
That single pocket watch provided the opportunity for the Swatch Group to reinvent a brand, launching a wristwatch version of the Grande Seconde in 2002. Jaquet Droz is not a large company, making about 2,600 watches per year. Almost two-thirds of them are the Grande Seconde. The brand has expanded that design into a series of complications and more modern design interpretations.
Celebrating the brand’s 280th anniversary
This year’s Grande Second Tribute celebrates the 280th anniversary of the year 1738, when the young Pierre Jaquet-Droz set up his first workshop near La Chaux-de Fonds, Switzerland, a date that the brand now uses as the conventional start of its history. This piece in yellow gold is a limited edition of 88 pieces. The case is large at 43 mm, slim at 11.48 mm, and it is supplied with a strap in blue alligator with rolled edges, terminating in a yellow gold pin buckle. Water resistance is the standard 3 bar. The dial is in grand feu enamel, a technique that produces a perfect, durable ivory surface. It’s unlikely that the modern Jaquet Droz will ever achieve that glorious uninterrupted white expanse that Pierre Jaquet-Droz created back in the late 18th century, but at least the superfluous texts on the dial have been reduced to a minimum, just the brand name and logo, the edition number at top left, and “Manufacturé en Suisse” at bottom right.
The watch is powered by the calibre 2663 movement, assembled in-house. It has two barrels providing 68 hours power reserve, and it incorporates Swatch Group anti-magnetic technology, with silicon balance spring and pallet lugs. The oscillating weight, visible through the sapphire caseback, is decorated with hand guilloché and the brand’s two symbolic stars, representing father and son, Pierre and Henri-Louis. The edition number is engraved onto the caseback.
Price of the Grande Seconde Tribute
Unfortunately this is a very expensive watch. The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Tribute, reference J003031200, costs 22,050 Swiss francs. It is a limited edition of 88, because the Jaquet Droz lucky number has always been eight, and it is reflected by the dial design of this piece. Further information from the Jaquet Droz website.