One of the more interesting watches in this year’s Baselworld 2016, turning the trend against commercial watches is the Jacob & Co Twin Turbo. It features a world premiere twin, coupled triple axis tourbillons and a minute repeater, in a wedge shaped case, with glass all round. We can argue about the aesthetics, but the technical and watchmaking tour de force required to achieve this level of complications is astounding. It makes our Editor’s Choice of Top 5 watches from the show. And we do a full analytical review here.
Required reading: Pre-Basel Introduction to Jacob & Co Twin Turbo.
Jacob & Co Twin Turbo
Case, Dial, Hands
There is no other way to describe the first impression of the watch. It smacks one right on the head, grips one’s throat with an authority that no other watch can muster. It is big (57.30x51mm; Thickness: 16.90mm). It is audacious. It is daring. The most distinctive first impression is the case. The shape is unusual, like a wedge. Reminiscent of the Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport, and perhaps also the Cabestan Triple Axis Tourbillon. But yet, unique, and unlike the others.
The massive case is in titanium and carbon fiber. An interesting departure from precious metal used for extreme complications like the Twin Turbo. The focus is not in the precious metal used in the case, but the movement. Having said that, the case is impressive. The sapphire glass itself is massive, and curves impressively, following the wedge curvature of the case.
The dial itself is made of sapphire crystal, so that the entire movement can be viewed. A Red Neoralithe inner ring carries the seconds graduation while the hour markers are engraved directly on the dial. The hands are skeletonized, and tipped with SuperLuminova.
The dial opens up to expose the twin triple axis tourbillons on its lower quarters. Exposed, proud. Spinning at a moderate rate of 40 seconds, 3 minutes and 8 minutes in each of the three axis. But it is mesmerizing. Even with just one triple axis tourbillon, it captivates the eye. With two, it is amazing. The eye flirts with one, then the other, unable to decide where to settle, sending signals to the brain of the visual stimulation, and the excitement. Spectacular!
The visual aesthetic is powerful. And as usual with visuals this powerful, it is the kind which either immediately turns one off as it is non classical, or one which causes the heart to flutter. For this author, a hard core classicist as he may be, it is the latter.
The Movement: JCFM01
The movement view from the front is spectacular…we said that, but it deserves repetition. And from the rear is equally stunning.
Comprising of no less than 572 components, to say it is complicated is an understatement. The bridge layout is rather pleasing, with each plate designed to aesthetically pleasing. The shapes are harmonious. And the bridges feature magnificently executed anglage, with a number of beautiful inner angles as well as outward angles. The screws are polished and sit within polished chamferred openings so the screw heads are level with the bridge uppers. The bridges itself are finished with a brushed finish.
Of note is the two driving wheels for the twin tourbillon system. Not content with a simple wheel, the two wheels are designed skeleton like, with an amazing matrix pattern featuring multiple inner and outward angles, each executed beautifully. We also love the way the two bridges holding these wheels are designed and finished.
We understand the movement is made by Le Cercle des Horlogers, the brainchild of the amazing duo of Alain Schiesser and Nicolas Herren. Alain was formerly from Christophe Claret, and Nicolas from Renaud et Papi and Louis Vuitton.
The twin triple axis tourbillon is amazing.
“The tourbillons are friction coupled, and do not use a differential system”, explains Luca Soprana. Luca was the genius watchmaker in attandance at Jacob & Co, and is the watchmaking chief of a small think tank known as Studio 7h38. Luca was also responsible for the Jacob & Co Astronomia and the Vianney Halter Deep Space. “Greubel Frosey has patented the planetary differential system for multi-axis tourbillons.”, (Editor note: This is used in the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon) he continues, “so we are using a different system. The two tourbillon systems are free to rotate on their own, but if one slows down, it is pulled by the friction coupling by the other. Like the clutch system of a motor vehicle, the friction coupling only takes effect when the two systems go out of sync. And most of the time, the precision of the movement is so good, that they are in sync.”
The repetiton mechanism is a Decimal Repeater. As mentioned in our Introduction Article, this is perhaps the fourth time we have encountered the decimal repeater in comparison to the more traditional minute repeater. It strikes the hours, 10 minutes, and minutes, just like we would read the time. A traditional minute repeater strikes the hours, the quarters and minutes after the quarters. For e.g. at 12.59 a traditional repeater would strike 12 high tones, 3 high/low tones for the 3 quarters after 12, and 14 low tones. In the decimal repeater, it would strike 12 high tones, 5 high/low tones for the 50 minutes passed, and 9 low tones. The first we saw this system being used is in the Kari Voutilainen Decimal Repeaters. And subsequently, we have seen this in the Credor Minute Repeater as well as the Lange Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. All amazing watches. And this is a very special genre.
But to top it off, the Twin Turbo’s Minute Repeater is not only a Decimal Repeater, but also features Cathedral Gongs. These are longer gongs, so named because their length generated a deeper sound and amplified their resonance. Jaeger LeCoultre patented a design for these Cathedral Gongs in 1858 for pocket watches, but we believe Patek Philippe was probably the first to use it in a wrist watch in the 2000s, and appeared in watches like the Ref. 5079.
The strikes of the Twin Turbo are clean and clear. The regulator, though is audible with ear to the case, is unobstrusive and remains in the background. Each strike is a deep resonant tone, with a beautiful decay.
Final Thoughts and comparisons
The Jacob & Co is truly a mind blowing masterpiece. The watch is audacious, as Jacob Arabo has no doubt intended for it to be. It is technically amazing to be able to squeeze not one but two triple axis tourbillons, coupled to each other and have space to add a decimal minute repeater with cathedral gongs.
For competition, we searched high and low, and deep into our archives, and came up with nought. The closest is perhaps the Greubel Forsey Invention Piece No.2 Quadruple Tourbillon (approximately US$1million in a gold case). But that is only two double axis tourbillons coupled by a differential. Not two triple axis tourbillons. And no minute repeater. The Antoine Preziusio Tourbillon of Tourbillons (starts at CHF320,000) is another possiblity. But that comprised of three single axis tourbillons coupled by a three way differential.
Thomas Prescher has a triple axis tourbillon, as does Cabestan. But both are single escapement systems. None approach the audacity of twin triple axis. In terms of the unusual shape of the movement, the Cabestan Triple Axis Tourbillon (CHF250,000 before taxes) perhaps comes closest. The wedge shape is similar, and it sports a single triple axis tourbillon, albeit one which spins at a furious rate of 17 seconds, 19 seconds, and 60 seconds. Again no second tourbillon system, and no repeater. The Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport (latest 2016 version in rose gold retails for $897,300 before taxes, approximately US$660,000) has a similarly shaped case, but no tourbillon.
From the angle of Decimal Repeaters, we have mentioned the Voutilainen examples, all piece uniques and all sold out. As well as the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater (platinum only at JPY34,650,000 (approximately US$410,000)) and the Lange Zeitwerk Minute Repeater (in platinum only, German retail, incl VAT €440,000, approx US$490,000). But neither have a tourbillon, not to mention two triple axis.
So the conclusion is the Jacob & Co Twin Turbo is sans competition. And even the asking price is CHF360,000 before taxes is a big number, it seems to be a rather reasonable sum, considering that there is no competition, and the other pieces that we have covered here are similarly priced or even more expensive, while lacking one or more of its features.
Jacob & Co Twin Turbo Technical Specifications
Movement: Exclusive Jacob & Co. Manual Winding JCFM01;
Size: 34.43mm; Height: 13.2mm;
Material: Titanium, Steel;
System: Twin Triple Axis Tourbillon with Decimal Minute Repeater;
Power Reserve: 72 hours; Frequency: 21’600 vib/h (3Hz); Jewels: 49;
Finishing: Hand Angled and Polished Plate and Bridges; Flank Draw, Circular
Graining; Circular Barrel and Plate; Polished Screw; Conical Pinions; 4 Mechanical
Ball Baring Devices; 2 Screw Balances.
Functions: Hours, Minutes;
Decimal Minute Repeater: Hours, 10 min. and minutes; Cathedral Gongs;
2 Hammers at 12 O’clock;
Twin Triple Axis Tourbillon;
• 1st Axis Flying: in 40 seconds,
• 2nd Axis Flying: in 3 min,
• 3rd Axis Flying: in 8 minutes.
Regulator between the Two Triple Axis Tourbillon Carriers; Double Mechanical Safety
Feature During a Chiming Sequence.
Case: 57.30x51mm; Thickness: 16.90mm;
Material: Grade 5 Titanium; Carbon Fiber;
Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal;
Case Back: Domed Sapphire Crystal.
Dial and Hands: Smoked Sapphire with Applied “Jacob&Co.” Logo, Red Neoralithe
Inner Ring with Second Graduation;
Hands: Black Skeleton with SuperLuminova Coating.
Strap & Clasp: Black Leather; Grade 5 Titanium Deployment Buckle.
Remarks: Water resistant to 30 meters; 2-year warranty.
Limited Edition: 18 pieces.