Ok, maybe saying that the watch will have you roaring is a bit of an over-reach, but we know if you are an art or big-cat lover, this watch is going to hit all the bells and whistles for you. Sorry men, unless you love diamonds, the watch is really meant for the lady in your life. I say “sorry” because I believe that a man would enjoy the boldness of a non-diamond red/orange version of the new Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara created in Plique-à-Jour enamel.
To begin with, we need to preface this story with the fact that I am personally a lover of lions, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions and all of the wonderful big cats of the world. Having been on a couple of safaris already, I respect their ferocious side, the innate hunting instinct they possess in order to survive in the wild. I am also quite enamored with the sleek yet stealthy beauty of these animals and find them mysterious and alluring. This may be why I am so fond of the new Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara watches that deftly portray a tiger’s head with glaring eyes, wide-open mouth and teeth bared.
Unveiled this year to celebrate the fact that the brand was founded 280 years ago, the Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara watch represents the first time the brand – which specializes in innovation and artistic beauty – uses the plique-à-jour enamel (smalta clara in Latin) technique. It is a highly complex artistic art that less than a handful of watch brands have successfully conquered. Jaquet Droz, known for its fine miniature painting and Grand Feu enamel watches, has the ability to draw on its experience to execute this 1,500-year-old art.
Essentially, in creating the incredibly translucent enamel – that in many ways emulates the finest stained-glass window – the artist must master several skills, not the least of which is a harmonious synergy with the kiln in which the enamel is fired. Every great enamel artist or painter knows the kiln well and knows just how far he or she can push the materials in terms of heat or timing in the kiln before risking breaking. Even at that, one can never be sure that a bubble or a crack won’t appear, especially with plique-à-jour where the enamel is super thin.
Additionally, in this art, the plique-à-jour dial consists of multiple colors and shapes, separated by thin gold wire cloisons (cells). The dial essentially is a single piece of translucent enamel – with no metal backing to yield added strength. The enamel cells, when fired, attach to the gold wire dividers and harden at the perfect temperature to let light pass through for ultimate beauty.
And, in fact, the watch dial – with different colors and shapes – comes to life when the light hits it, illuminating the face of the tiger: eyes, nose, whiskers, mouth, tongue, teeth and mane portrayed in fantastic beauty. This may be because it takes so long to create the creature. In fact, a single artisan spends a full four days making a single dial.
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara watch is offered in two colour combinations. One version is an 18k rose gold case with the offset smaller hour/minute dial made of mother-of-pearl surrounded in a thin rose gold case. The plique-à-jour enamel dial is crafted in hues of red, brown, bright orange and yellow with white teeth and dark pink nose and tongue. The second version is crafted in 18k white gold with enamel in various shades of dark blue, bright blue, pale blue and indigo for the tongue and nose. The eye is a piercing yellow.
With a tiger motif designed in-house by Jaquet Droz, each dial has at least seven different colors to underscore the dynamic personality of the tiger and the watch. Of course, because this powerful beauty is designed with women in mind, the mysterious and alluring dial is surrounded by a bezel set with 100 diamonds. The lugs are also set with diamonds. As mentioned earlier, this watch has an off-centered hour display at 2 o’clock that has been reduced in size to enable as much tiger to come to life as possible. For harmony and balance – and to make the winding shaft as inconspicuous as possible through the translucent enamel – the crown is also placed at 2 o’clock. The watch is powered by the brand’s 6150 caliber, its smallest self-winding mechanical movement with a silicon balance spring, pallet horns and a platinum oscillating weight.
Each of the two 35mm editions is created in a limited series of 28 pieces and each is finished with a color-coordinated wraparound satin strap. Each watch retails for USD 54,600 – a small price for nature reinterpreted on the wrist. More details on www.jaquet-droz.com.
This article has been written by Roberta Naas, founder of A Timely Perspective; and author of six books on watches.