Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

Jaquet Droz, or the poetic encounters of the Grande Seconde Deadbeat

Jaquet Droz stages an enticing mechanical ballet by placing a retrograde calendar at 6 o'clock, where the brand usually positions its Grande Seconde.

By Marco Cattaneo

We are in for a double show when looking at the inner mechanisms of this 43-mm piece. Indeed, we are treated to the slow second-by-second pace of the central deadbeat seconds as well as to the rare retrograde calendar placed at 6 o'clock.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

Little memories, a grand history

The pace of the large seconds hand is quite hypnotic, with its little jumps along the railroad, which borders the dial of this Grande Seconde Deadbeat. Its sixty jumps per minute do bring back childhood memories as well as the grand history of watchmaking. I say childhood memories because these regular jumps automatically evoke the clocks at Swiss stations, which also featured a seconds hand that ticked second by second. They marked trains' schedules and trains were so punctual I actually believed they were connected to the hand itself. The mechanical ballet, which watchmakers wrongfully neglected after it was housed in quartz watches, also takes spectators to the 18th century when the deadbeat seconds was created. Back then, it was used to measure short lapses of times. This technical prowess was gradually improved with the addition of the stop and reset functions which led to the creation of chronographs as we know them nowadays.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

I have several appointments a day with the piece that takes up the better part of my wrist. The first one takes place every minute when the seconds hand passes by 12 o'clock. At the other end of the hand, a plate acts as a kind of counterweight, which comes to a standstill at six o'clock, above the calendar. The skeletonized plate reveals the calendar's hand axis in perfect alignment, thus materializing the acute sense of detail and balance inherent to any beautiful watch.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

The calendar's game

The second appointment occurs only once a month when the date jumps from 31st to 1st. All it takes is a simple glance at the watch to understand that the calendar can be nothing but retrograde as the date hand travels under the seconds hand and its subtle red tip is placed higher than the central axis. Hence, the only way to go back to 1 o'clock is to perform a backward rotation. The appointment was fixed; it was the 24th and only a few days remained. I wanted to keep the deadline, yet this century is everything but patient, so I decided to cheat. I pulled out the crown and brought the calendar hand to the D-date signaled by a red 31. Immediately afterwards, the hand went back to 1 o'clock so quickly that I almost missed it in spite of having anticipated it was going to happen.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

My third, more artistic and flexible appointment was with the central seconds hand and it came in the form of the geometrical shapes that it reveals with the crossing of the hour, minute and date hands. They form broken lines with an angle that automatically changes every second, but also every day and every hour.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

A Grand Feu enamel dial

All the above is staged on an ivory Grand Feu enamel dial with elegant aesthetics, a characteristic of Jaquet Droz. The hour-minute module at 12 o'clock and the simple calendar at 6 o'clock form the brand's characteristic “8”. This watch is full of subtle surprises; alternating Arabic and Roman numerals for the hour-minute module, the "made in Switzerland" inscription that replaces the traditional "Swiss Made" at 6 o'clock and even the two touches of red that are barely visible on the remarkably sober timepiece.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Morte

A silicon spiral beats inside the new Jaquet Droz 2695SMR self-winding caliber, whose bridges are decorated with spread-out "Côtes de Genève" that can be seen through the sapphire glass. The 14-mm red gold case is quite thick for a round watch with traditional aesthetics but its smartly designed profile keeps the watch's refinement.

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Translated from the original French text

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