Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat

Angus Davies reviews the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat and urges prospective purchasers to take their time appraising each nuance of its sumptuous form.

This detailed review of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat includes live images and specification details.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_wrist - ESCAPEMENT MAGAZINE by Angus Davies

Invariably, when travelling around Switzerland, I am rushing from one atelier to the next, looking at new timepieces, scribbling notes and taking many photographs. My itinerary is often hectic and I sometimes fail to appreciate the beauty in my midst, namely, the chocolate-box pretty scenery of Switzerland’s magical landscape.

I was reminded of this recently whilst visiting Jaquet Droz‘s hillside workshop on the outskirts of La Chaux-de-Fonds. As I observed artisans expertly engraving minuscule parts and carefully painting dials in microscopic scale, I shared their view of the world. Large windows, adjacent the workbenches, allow natural light to illuminate the rooms and provide spectacular views of the verdant green topography and dancing wild flowers moving in the breeze.

Indeed, this view reminded me that I really should ‘take time to smell the roses’; a phrase I have often heard said, but seldom embrace.

Coincidentally, whilst visiting Jaquet Droz I spent time appraising a timepiece which, with its very creation, demonstrates the futility of rushing and the wisdom of contemplation.

The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat is equipped with a ‘dead-beat’ or ‘jumping’ seconds hand. Normally, with a watch equipped with a seconds indication, the hand moves several times per second, dictated by the frequency of the balance. Its very nature appears busy. However, the dead-beat seconds hand takes one step every second, appearing to reflect on life and exhibiting a delightful grace in the process.

The dial

An ivory grand feu enamel dial seems a fitting accompaniment to this elegant timepiece. Its pure appearance belies its complex realisation. Jaquet Droz has become synonymous with two interfacing dials which form a fortuitous ‘number eight’.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_front - ESCAPEMENT website by Angus Davies

The hour and minutes are positioned off-centre, biased to the northerly region of the dial. Lancine-shaped 18-carat gold hands are teamed with Roman numerals, save for 5, 6, and 7 o’clock which are presented in Arabic numerals avec serifs.

In the lower portion of the dial is a retrograde date display, presenting the odd-numbered values in Arabic numerals with small dots denoting the even dates in between. A sole, red-tipped hand imparts the prevailing date with eminent clarity.

However, it is the statesmanlike progress of the central dead-beat seconds hand which steals the show. It serenely advances, collaborating with the neat, black chapter ring, to lucidly communicate with the wearer. Moreover, it is the andante gait of the central seconds hand which beguiles the observer with its thoughtful progress.

The case

Measuring 43mm in diameter, the 18-carat red gold case is pleasingly proportioned. I found that wearing the watch accorded a comfortable fit, occupying a substantial part of my arm without appearing cumbersome.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_sideview - ESCAPEMENT watch reviews by Angus Davies

The sides of the caseband taper inwards as they approach the caseback, mitigating the sense of scale. Furthermore, the upper surface of the lugs curve downwards whilst the sides and undersides of the lugs appear relatively straight. These subtle details play with the wearer’s perception of size and deliver a neat union between the timepiece and wrist.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_lugs - ESCAPEMENT watch magazine by Angus Davies

The profile of the crown reminds me of a flower in bloom. It is fluted adjacent the caseband giving way to a smooth circlet of gold. The leading edge of the crown has a smaller circumference and features the brand’s two star logo on its vertical flank.

Appraising the aesthetics of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat, it features highly polished treatment on all surfaces yet exhibits a refined, understated appearance. The caseback features a sapphire crystal according a view of the self-winding movement.

The movement

The Jaquet Droz 2695SMR is a wholly new movement which is especially surprising when one considers this timepiece is limited to only 88 pieces. Moreover, despite the traditional mien of this watch, the new movement incorporates state-of-the-art know-how, including a silicon balance spring and various components made using LIGA technology.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_rotor - ESCAPEMENT watch blog by Angus Davies

The frequency of the balance is 21,600 vph (3Hz), a cadence befitting a traditional watch. The movement is equipped with a single barrel, helping to deliver a 38 hour power reserve. An 18-carat gold, partially open-worked oscillating mass, reveals some of the beautiful movement finishing beneath.

Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and bevels shine resplendently, standing testament to the no-compromise construction of this self-winding movement.

Jaquet_Droz_Grande_Seconde_Deadbeat_back - ESCAPEMENT watch reviews by Angus Davies

A dead-beat seconds is a rare complication, seldom seen in the modern era. Interestingly, despite the simplicity of its appearance it proves very challenging to execute. Clearly, Jaquet Droz is able to draw on the vast expertise of its parent company, the Swatch Group, to deliver a movement which harnesses the necessary know-how.

Closing remarks

I struggle to criticise any element of this timepiece. It offers much eye-appeal but delivered in a restrained manner. The watch has superb wrist presence without appearing unduly conspicuous or cumbersome.

Everything on this timepiece proves simple to interpret and the movement is a wonderful exemplar of Swiss craftsmanship. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the similarities the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat shares with nature itself which proves the most telling.

When appraising a rose, it seemingly appears simple in form. However, if we consider its complex creation in detail, taking time to consider its many attributes of colour, texture and bouquet we discover the many nuances which make it special. Indeed, the rose is like a metaphor for the supposed simplicity of the grand feu enamel dial and the relaxed motion of the deadbeat seconds hand, their complexity is only truly discerned by exhibiting patience and taking the time to absorb each impressive quality in isolation.

Technical specification

  • Model: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Deadbeat
  • Reference: J008033200
  • Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 43mm; height 13.79mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central deadbeat seconds; date.
  • Movement: Jaquet Droz 2695SMR; self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 34 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
  • Strap: Black alligator leather strap presented with a 18-carat red gold pin buckle
  • Limited Edition: 88 pieces

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