The blasts of water on a motorbike would not have done this watch any good. The idea was to explore it in a context all its own: within a professional or social framework. On the way back, in the haven of a car's cozy cabin and on the wrist, it began to reveal its being with each shift of a gear. Worn on the right, it was perfect for a wrist measuring about twenty centimeters, the result of steady sailing practice. The first impression, let us note, is one of balance, probably due to the perfect parity between the diameter of the watch (43 millimeters) and the size of the wearer (1.75 meters).
The architecture of this red gold model boasts some genuinely aristocratic traits. It is by no means easy to explain the reason for this particular aura, which both the white gold version and the 39-millimeter version also exude.It is probably linked to the very history of the maison, which is long indeed (1738); and it can likewise be due to the design of the case, which was recently reconceived to emphasize its refinement while maintaining the lines that will allow it to be identified instantly by the watch lover with knowledge of the brand. The soft shapes and the absence of screws on the transparent case back, as well as the barebones inscriptions (name and number of the series), are all elements that will allow this timepiece to integrate with ease into the daily life of the person wearing it.
But during this particular month of August, it was hard to put it on one's wrist for, say, an evening worthy of the watch. Impossible to really have others see it and allow it to show itself in a worthy manner. Barring a friend, a retailer who works not too far from the Paris boutique of Jaquet Droz, the pleasure of sharing opinions on this watch was somewhat limited. Though in my particular case, the pleasure of wearing this particular reference was genuine, but entirely selfish. So the mission of polling passers-by for their views of this fine timekeeper was confined to Geneva, specifically to Louis Nardin and the Watches TV. His field work can be seen on this video:
As for my personal impressions, first there is the disc of ivory white accentuated by the pink gold bezel, which has an almost hypnotic effect. Indeed, this watch's dial exhibits the kind of unique depth and vigor that only grand feu enamel can provide. This technique, inherited from the past, was applied thanks to what is known as "double enameling," which requires the know-how of the gifted artisans at Rubattel et Weyermann, a Swatch Group company also located at La Chaux-de-Fonds. The enamel, fired at 800° C by the skilled artisans, is thick, allowing the dial to be literally dug out. During the firing, the material with an ivory hue vitrifies in thin layers. The result is impressive and wonderful to look at through the watchmaker's loupe, because each detail takes on a very special dimension. Thanks to the double enameling, the "white" of the dial appears dense and amalgamates with the material. It's worth noting, that reading the time on this large dial is quite similar to reading time on one of those high-end pocket watches from the 19th century. Once on your wrist, this timepiece is irresistible. It suggests the complexity of its manufacturing and exudes a je ne sais quoi that is stunningly noble.
Built in a spirit of the tradition but in all modernity as well, this Grande Seconde has, as the name suggests, a large second hand which surpasses in size the hour hand to form an infinite and harmonizing figure eight, which can be considered a kind of perennial anchor in a world permanently in motion. And because everything makes sense in the end, this particular counter associates the smallest unit of time (the second) with a calendar display (the day). The latter is well integrated. It melts into the background and would almost be forgotten were it not for the fans of this kind of information, who will be thrilled to discover it in its recondite location. This fine example of watchmaking, which was made to last for years without developing a single wrinkle, deserved to have its durable character maintained by designing a delicate bassine case to house an automatic caliber of exceptional Swiss manufacturing, which the people at the time of Jaquet Droz referred to as a movement for "perpetual watches." A reassuring element is the very fine finishing on this famous heart, which is visible through the transparent case back. The massive gold rotor, forged into a fan shape, also invokes the special treatment of the côtes de Genève, likewise fan-shaped, which radiate onto the bridges and were carefully finished by hand. For experts or newbies in mechanics, the visual treatment of the caliber ensures that anyone with a minimum of horological know-how will have a guarantee of handiwork executed according to the rules of the art (hand-beveling, chamfered and circular-grained wheels, softened steel, etc.).
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Enamel Ivory conceals its game rather well. The calendar only attracts the eye thanks to a few daubs of color. This introduces some fantasy onto a dial whose horological rigor, one guesses easily, derives from the glorious past of this company now with an international reputation.The price, by the way, is generally in the same spirit as that of its competitors. Nevertheless, this numbered model also boasts a magnificent dial in double grand feu enamel, a truly unique feature.
Altogether, this timepiece is very well positioned in the realm of prestige watches and can be safely worn in an urbane setting either with a costume during the day, or in evening garb. The particular model tested had a regulating mechanism of the latest generation integrating a silicon hairspring and an anchor with reversed pallets. Accurate and Witchi-controlled, yet serial-built, its daily displayed deviation rate was two fast seconds. This is a chronometric result of perfectly acceptable quality for a reference that does not come with a chronometric report.
To summarize: this beautifully made watch, worn on a supple and handsome matt alligator bracelet, tells a story all its own: the story of savoir-vivre from the 18th century, the great century during which watchmaking managed to find the right balance to turn timepieces into jewels with the functionality of a scientific tool. The spirit of the Lumières imbues this firmly chic watch with timeless lines, genuine companion for those wanting to wear with great urbanity from morning to night.
Pictures by Sandra Garrido Campos for Watchonista.