When one mentions Jaquet Droz, most of us recall the Grande Seconde – a collection designed around the emblematic 8-figure display, with off-centred hours-minutes and an oversized seconds counter. This specific display is iconic and has been the brand’s signature for close to 300 years (JD celebrates its 280th anniversary this year). So how can the brand depart from this 8-shaped dial without compromising its DNA? That’s where the Astrale collection comes into the picture – and here’s the latest creation, the Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute, a case study in minimalism.
The Astrale collection by Jaquet Droz gathers most of the watches that don’t bear the iconic 8-shaped dial. In this collection, there is a predominance of watches with a central indication of the time and additional complications, like for instance the Eclipse – a full calendar and moon phase watch – or the Grande Heure Minute Quantième – a traditional time-and-date watch with centrally mounted hands. Both are very pleasant watches for sure but, to us, they lack a bit of JD’s aura and minimalism. Another watch in the Astrale collection, the Grande Heure Minute does, however, prove that even without the 8-figure dial, a time-only watch can be Jaquet Droz from head to toe.
The Grande Heure Minute already existed in the collection in one single iteration, with a Black Onyx dial. The model now receives two new versions, in steel, with a silver or slate-grey dial and with a more accessible price. Clearly, the Grande Heure Minute is a simple watch with central hour and minute hands and a small seconds counter but, even if doesn’t feature the iconic 8-shaped dial it feels legit as a JD watch.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute shares the same case as most other watches created by the brand, which in this case translates into a 43mm stainless steel case. As usual, this case wears rather large and is quite thick (11.77mm) but is, at the same time, cleverly shaped. The polished case is rounded on all surfaces, making it very smooth and pleasant to touch. Also, the casebands taper to the caseback, making this watch feel thinner than the specifications lead you to believe. The almost non-existent bezel makes it larger on the wrist and with an impressive presence. However, the lugs are curved and hug the wrist. The Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute, as all JD watches with a 43mm, is comfortable even on a smaller wrist.
The dial of the Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute is the main difference with the vast majority of the timepieces manufactured by JD. As you can see, it is a simple time-only watch, with hours and minutes in the centre and a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Very, very pure in its design, it even reduces the inscriptions to the logo of the brand and the usual “Manufacturé en Suisse” below the sub-dial. Yet, the beauty of this watch lies in this minimalist approach – somewhat akin to the Concept watches of H. Moser & Cie.
Even without the 8-figure on the dial, the Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute feels in line with the rest of the collection. The chosen colours, the style of the hands, the circled sub-dial, the shape of the markers… Everything remains true to the brand’s design codes. This watch is available in two versions. The first one (Ref. J017030241) features a silvered dial with blued steel hands – a truly classic and elegant piece. The second one (Ref. J017030240) features a grained slate-grey dial with rhodium-plated hands – a more casual take on the concept. Both are fitted with a rolled-edge black alligator strap.
Inside the case and powering the display is the Calibre 1169.Si. This automatic in-house movement uses the same base as most Grande Seconde watches but has been modified to display the central hours and minutes and a small seconds. It is a modern, high-tech movement with twin barrels for a respectable 68h power reserve, a 4Hz frequency and anti-magnetic silicon balance spring and pallet horns. The movement is nicely decorated, with Geneva stripes, polished bevels and an engraved heavy metal rotor. A discreet movement that fits the overall minimalist design of the watch.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Heure Minute is a nice departure from the classic 8-shaped dial that remains faithful to the brand’s design codes. It is also one of the most accessible watches of the brand, with a CHF 8,650 retail price (for both models). For the moment, only the 43mm version is available but we can expect JD to offer a smaller 39mm edition in the near future. More details on www.jaquet-droz.com.