Review: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Chronograph

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Jaquet Droz’s offering is impressive this year. See our Time to Move coverage here. And one of the most interesting watches unveiled is the Grande Seconde Chronograph we are reviewing here.

The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Chronograph in stainless steel case and a sand blasted blue.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Chronograph

The chronograph is an interesting chronograph to incorporate into the very clean, simple lines of the Grande Seconde collection. On first imagination, it would seem that the counters and multiple hands will complicate the dial layout, and mess with the beautiful clarity of the Grande Seconde. But yet, the aesthetic designers at Jaquet Droz did an excellent job, and created a beautiful chronograph. The perfect figure 8 proportions of the Grande Seconde remain intact, and the date hand is not impeded by the central shaft of the seconds hand.Available in two versions – one in red gold with a symmetrical arrangement, and in stainless steel with three dial options in a layout which is off centered.

The case, dial and hands

The case of of all the versions is 43mm in diameter with a height of 14.83mm. Though the tale of the tape may suggest a huge watch, the actual timepiece looks rather svelte due to the graceful lines of the case, and it wears rather comfortably on a 7.5″ wrist.

The dial layout is clean and highly legible. The top subdial is used to indicate the hours and minutes, and the large second subdial is equipped with two hands arranged co-axially – one being the chronograph counter, the other showing the date. The large seconds hand of the Grande Seconde becomes the chronograph seconds hand. The chronograph is activated via a co-axially arranged monopusher on the crown. Pressure to start/stop/reset is light but with a positive feel.

The lugs curve rather strongly downwards, allowing the case to hug the wrist, and making it comfortable to wear for the average sized wrist.

The red gold edition also features a red gold hour, minute and date hands, while the chronograph seconds and minute hands are in blued steel. The minute and second displays on the chronograph are in blue Petit Feu enamel to maximize the readability of the time. And the retrograde date indicated by a red-tipped gold hand also illustrates the intent to enhance the aesthetic with the technical.

As indicated earlier, the dial on the red gold version is more traditional and arranged symmetrical, with the crown at 3. This red gold version is limited to 88 pieces. This version also sports a grand feu enamel dial with an ivory hue. Arabic and Roman numerals are used in fine, even strokes are executed in petit feu enamel.

The stainless steel versions come in three dial colours – sand-blasted silver, blue or taupe gray. The SS version differ from the red gold in the dial is off-centered dial, achieved by turning the movement 30° clockwise. As a result, the crown is now at 4.

These dials are finished by hand using a dry sand-blasting technique that differs from the more common wet sand-blasting method. This finish accentuates the depth of the graining. The new blue and warm gray tones have never previously been used by Jaquet Droz.

The movement: Jaquet Droz 26M5R

The movement can be admired through the sapphire case back of the Grande Seconde Chronograph. As usual, the movement is sourced from Manufacture Blancpain, and is the Jaquet Droz 26M5R. The movement is based on the architecture of the famed and very well respected F. Piguet (now Blancpain) 1185. We do note that though the architecture is the 1185, the 25M5R is a result of heavy modifications made by Manufacture Blancpain.

It is a self winding monopusher chronograph with silicon balance spring and pallet horns. The chronograph is controlled via a traditional column wheel activating the chronograph via a vertical clutch system.

The column wheel on the movement.

Movement finishing is very high, with a fauss côte radiating from an imaginary center. The anglage is nicely finished, and even, and we assume is machine finished. The screws do not appear to have counter sinks, and sit proud over the plates, but are highly polished. The overall aesthetic viewed through the sapphire glass back is very pleasant.

Competitive Landscape

The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Chronograph is a technical watch within an elegant, aesthetically pleasing exterior. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing of sorts. It looks beautiful in a non-technical way, kind of like a pretty face. But this is not a watch which is all beauty with no brains. Within the case is contained the technical brilliance of the Blancpain sourced monopusher movement, equipped with the latest silicon components. At S$50,000 in rose gold with a grand feu enamel dial and S$31,000 in SS, it is relatively inexpensive.

One obvious piece in the landscape is the Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir with the similar blend of the stylish exterior and a technical movement. The Cartier is not in the current collection, but can be found relatively easily in the secondary market. It features a THA sourced movement and the dial is a beautiful guilloche style which hints more about its technical nature than the Jaquet Droz.

Most other Monopoussoir chronographs feature technical looking dial designs which do not have the same dandy vibe that the Jaquet Droz (or the Cartier) does. Can you think of other single button chronograph which satisfy these two criteria? Please tell us in the comment section!

Concluding thoughts

This is the first time the Grande Seconde collection is equipped with a chronograph. And though it appears to first go against the grain of the clean, beautiful lines of the near perfect figure of 8 dial layout, Jaquet Droz have managed to pull this off very nicely. The overall aesthetic is superb, and every bit retaining the DNA of the Grande Seconde. And yet, within the pretty face, is the brilliantly executed chronograph movement.

The silver dry blasted dial looks very sober, though this mood is moderated by the slightly more contemporary off centered dial layout.

On the wrist the watch is comfortable, and due to the size, it sits proudly with a commanding presence. Operationally it functions as it should, with and the chronograph is faultless with the button giving a good feel with each activation.

The Chief Editor prefers the more traditional layout of the symmetrical red gold edition, while our writers seem to favour the off-centered version. Agreeing with the astute observation which Jaquet Droz CEO, Christian Lattmann shared with me during the presentation in La Chaux du Fonds: “The off centered dial version will appeal to younger collectors and the red gold to the more mature.”


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