For many, a ‘Jaquet Droz Sport Watch’ might come across as an oxymoron from a brand about to celebrate its 280th anniversary and intimately associated with refined artistic watches and complex automata. And I’m guessing that not too many of you knew that Jaquet Droz has had a Sport Watch (SW) in its catalogue since 2008, a sporty rendition of the Grande Seconde family, known as the Grande Seconde SW. Taking the sports watch concept into sportier terrain, Jaquet Droz presented a column-wheel chronograph at Baselworld 2018 with an upgraded silicon balance spring in the movement. Released in two contemporary dial colours, the SW Chrono abandons the iconic figure-eight dial configuration of the Grande Seconde in favour of a horizontal chrono display. Let’s take a closer look at the SW Chrono.
A distinctive case
Like the Grande Seconde SW, the SW Chrono flaunts an imposing stainless steel case distinguished by its fixed notched bezel and broad lateral claws (or griffes) positioned on either side of the case. The large 45mm diameter and thick 14mm case height lend the watch a solid, masculine presence. On the right side of the case are the grooved chronograph pushers capped with black rubber and the screw-down crown with its claw-like protective guard (the case is water-resistant to 50m). The claw on the opposite side of the bezel works as a visual counterweight all the while protecting the case from knocks and blows.
Instead of developing the case from one solid piece of steel, the case is assembled from several sections and was made exclusively for the new SW Chrono family. As you would expect from Jaquet Droz, the execution and finishes are impeccable with contrasting polished, matte and satin-finished surfaces to maximise contrasts and reflections. The bezel and claws are satin-finished in contrast to the gleaming lugs that have been hollowed to diminish the weight and give the case a more aerodynamic silhouette.
Symmetry and legibility
In a somewhat surprising departure from the hallmark figure-8 configuration that graces the dial of the Grande Seconde family, Jaquet Droz has opted for a more conventional dial display with horizontal chrono counters and a strict sense of symmetry. Every detail has its counter detail creating a keen sense of restraint and order. This is not your typical busy chrono dial bristling with overlapping counters. Presented in two fashionable and contemporary colours, the SW Chrono comes with either a midnight-blue or anthracite dial. Once again Jaquet Droz excels in this department and the dials are beautifully decorated with extremely thin vertical strokes that add texture and depth. The hour markers and four Roman numerals at XII, III, VI and IX are all made from white gold and applied to the dial along with a highly legible big date window – an unusual complication to find in a chronograph – positioned at 12 o’clock.
To highlight the chronograph functions, the counters and seconds track are picked out in a darker colour and indicated with Arabic numerals. The 30-min chrono counter located at 3 o’clock and the 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock are slightly receded and the elegant textured decoration of the dial runs right through their centre. A nice detail on the rail track circling the dial is the way the 15, 30, 45 and 60-second markers are picked out in red. To enhance the legibility of the elapsed time counters, the hour and minute hands are openworked and feature lume on their tips while the three chrono hands are distinguished by open circle counterweights.
The reverse side of the watch reveals an elaborate polished caseback with countersinks and a view of the proprietary automatic column-wheel chronograph movement (Jaquet Droz 6885.Si-S) with its openworked 18k white gold rotor. An upgrade over the previous chronograph movement fitted in the former models (Ref. J029530201 and J029530202), this movement fights magnetism with the incorporation of a silicon balance spring and pallet lugs. The bridges are decorated with circular graining and the moving parts with a contemporary-looking ruthenium treatment. Oscillating at 21,600vph, the movement has a power reserve of 40 hours.
With its jagged bezel and distinctive claws, this watch is going to get noticed. A luxury take on the sports watch, the SW Chrono sacrifices its Jaquet Droz genetics and incorporates the chronograph in a distinguished and assertive case with a contemporary vibe. The highly symmetric dial is elegant and the finishes are excellent. It is perhaps what could be classified as a ‘gentleman’s chronograph’, the kind of watch that incorporates a sporty countdown function and a big date, but doesn’t make you look like you just finished a gruelling Dakar Rally.
Both the midnight blue and anthracite models of the SW Chrono are presented on a rolled-edged handmade fabric strap to match the colour of the dial and come with a sophisticated and hyper-secure stainless steel folding clasp. Both watches retail for CHF 17,850. For more information, please consult www.jaquet-droz.com.