I am a very proud Lancastrian. I was born in the county in northern England and brought up in one of the many mill towns synonymous with the cotton industry.
I vividly remember as a child staring at a skyline punctuated with a few of the brick built chimneys that remained. In my grandparents era, the mills were still in use and numerous chimneys dotted the horizon. Cotton would leave the towns which lay in the shadows of the Pennines, destined for export to faraway lands.
With the passage of time, the successful lustre of the industrial revolution began to fade. Chimneys would subsequently go into hibernation. No longer would smoke emanate from those soot covered pillars which reached upwards to the rain filled clouds I recall from muddy sports days at school. The industrial revolution left an indelible mark on the region. Blake’s “The dark Satanic Mills” were noisy, leading to occupational deafness. The air was rich with pollutants, causing breathing difficulties for nearby residents. Industry sadly scarred the fauna, blighted the landscape and led to many moving to prettier, warmer climes.
￼In contrast, I recently visited La Chaux-de-Fonds. The green pastures of this land sit in harmony with industry. The air is fresh. The fields are decorated with trees and stereotypical Swiss houses. Sat on a hillside, sympathetically nestling in the midst of nature, is a modern purpose-built atelier. Jaquet Droz moved to the premises located on the suitably named, Allée du Tourbillon, back in 2010. A state-of the art facility, it provides the perfect ambience to create some of the most interesting timepieces currently on the market. I had the good fortune to visit the Jaquet Droz head quarters recently. The facility is operating-theatre sterile. There is an absence of dust and dirt. I was issued with special white attire to mitigate the chance I could contaminate the area with my outside clothes.
The facility is bathed in natural light, providing optimum conditions for the detailed surgery that takes place on these high-end timepieces. Artisans sit in close proximity, assembling watches, painting the gorgeous grand-feu enamelled dials and painstakingly crafting masterpieces which will admired for decades to come.
As I casually chatted to a member of staff at her watchmaking bench, I looked over her shoulder and reflected on the view from the window. It was a beautiful landscape to savour and a worthy subject for any artist to record to canvas. La Chaux-de-Fonds is a Swiss, “Green and pleasant land”. It provides the perfect environment and inspiration for the artistic mastery of Jaquet Droz.
An august example of the aesthetic prowess of the brand famed for its automata, is the Jaquet Droz SW Tourbillon. This watch harnesses the modernity of a sports watch with the traditional craftsmanship of Swiss haute horology.
The tourbillon is the premier complication, craved by the majority of watchmakers. Originally, conceived by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the tourbillon counters the negative effects of gravity on the rate of a (pocket watch) movement. With Jaquet Droz, potential purchasers can enjoy the peerless perfection of a fine Swiss timepiece and the understated elegance admired by discerning watch collectors.
Warmth is afforded by a contemporary black dial featuring rubber treatment, juxtaposed with warm, luxurious 18-carat red gold often found on the more traditional offerings from the brand. A signature feature of Jaquet Droz,“A code” to use their own terminology, is the incorporation of the number eight within the dial. The symmetrical value of eight is believed to be lucky by Chinese clientele. The Jaquet Droz brand has considered the wants of its Chinese patrons since the early days of the company dating back to the 18th Century.
The dial on Jaquet Droz watches often features hours and minutes, towards the upper part of the dial. However, with this model, the area is used for an aperture which reveals the piece de resistance, the tourbillon carriage. At the centre of the tourbillon is an upper bridge used to fulfill the role of seconds hand.
Beneath, the tourbillon cage, located to the southerly aspect of the dial are the hour and minutes hands. Roman numerals are used to indicate the hours in a white hue, providing wonderful contrast with the black dial. Unlike the lancine-shaped hands, often favoured by Jaquet Droz, this model features modern, skeletonized hands. At the tips of the hands, white Super-LumiNova helps enhance legibility, especially useful in fading light.
￼The figure eight motif is outlined in red gold. Red gold is repeated further on two horizontal plates which span the dial. The profusion of gold could appear sickly, like an oversized piece of chocolate cake, but readers should not worry. The use of red gold is perfectly judged with all aspects working in concert.
A case diameter of 45 mm is generous, but very wearable. The gold bezel of the watch is fluted. The interplay of the surfaces creates interest and toys with light wonderfully. This watch is contemporary and should particularly appeal to fans of the brand who already own a traditional watch from the range and seek a modern alternative.
Two gold stars, part of the brand’s design language, feature on the vertical flank of the crown. A rubber knurled grip is conjoined with the red gold of the crown, aiding adjustment.
The other Sports Watches (SW) within the Jaquet Droz range feature rubber straps but this model has a black alligator-leather strap. It has a rolled edge, enhancing user-comfort and underlining the considered creation of this fine watch. Moreover, a deployant further aids the superior wearer comfort.
The watch has a sapphire case back affording a view of the movement. In addition, the caseback is relief-engraved with the individual serial number.
The watch features a Jaquet Droz 25JD-S movement. It is a self-winding movement featuring a “simple barrel”. But, despite having a simple barrel, it has an impressive power reserve of seven days. The rotor is 18-carat white gold with a black PVD finish, reinforcing the neoteric character of the watch. Nevertheless, traditionalists should not worry, Côtes de Genève motif features on the bridges and plate, distinguishing this as a prestigious movement faithful to haute horology.
The finissage is exceptional and a delight to behold. The movement is made for Jaquet Droz by Frederic Piguet. A key benefit of Jaquet Droz belonging to the Swatch Group is its ability to draw on the expertise from its sister brands. Frederic Piguet make exceptional movements harnessing flawless finishing and proffering exquisite details which differentiate them from the mundane.
A small detail which has always featured on movements within Jaquet Droz watches is the clover engraved on the calibres. It is a secret signature harking back to the early days of the manufacture, as we already told you here.
￼I love my native Lancashire for all the qualities captured by L.S. Lowry’s paintings. There is an honesty in the region and it will always provide strong emotional ties which encourage me to return home. In some cases, the scars of industrialisation have left their mark on some of former mill towns in the land of the red rose. But, when I look at La Chaux-de-Fonds discrete industrial endeavour does not mar the land, it lives in harmony.
It is the successful integration of watchmaking and nature, which allows craftsman to conceive beautiful forms whilst breathing in creative mountain air and basking beneath inspirational blue skies. This watch, the Jaquet Droz SW Tourbillon, perfectly shows the benefit of creating magnificent objects in a beautiful environ.
Are there any changes I would suggest Jaquet Droz make to the watch? Well, I think the clover signature should bear four leaves not three because you are truly fortunate if you own one of these matchless watches.
- Model: Jaquet Droz SW Tourbillon
- Reference: J030033240
- Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 45.00 mm. Water resistant to 5 bar (50 m); sapphire crystal to front and solid case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds; tourbillon.
- Movement: Jaquet Droz 25JD-S, self-winding; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 7 days.
- Strap: Rolled-edge hand made black alligator leather strap, supplied on 18-carat red gold deployant.
More information can be found on the Jaquet Droz website.