Jaquet Droz watches, it seems, are more popular in the Asian market (especially Hong Kong and China) than in Europe or the U.S., despite the intrinsic quality of the timepieces produced (thanks to the Swatch Group, owner of the brand) and their natural elegance. We’ve previously reviewed some JD on our Monochrome Watches blog (here and here), but the brand’s latest addition is clearly a very nice one. Enjoy our review of the new, handsome Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel, in 43mm and in red gold.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel is an elegant dress watch, even if some of its specifications are somewhat wide of our requirements for dress watches. In fact, it’s not a matter of design or features but more of size. This watch exists in two sizes, 39 mm and 43 mm (the one we had). Our idea of a dress watch would lean more towards smaller timepieces – under 40 mm – and thin cases. The JD Enamel is neither small nor thin. However, what pushes us to categorize it as a dress watch is the overall feeling on the wrist — elegant, original and discreet.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel comes with the brand’s usual “8-shape” motif, meaning a small hours -and-minutes counter and a large seconds subdial. This layout was used in antique pocketwatches created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz during the second part of the 18th century. When the brand came back to life in 2000, the choice of this layout was an intelligent (and elegant) way to create an identity for the brand and to create watches that would be easily recognizable. Most of them are now using this style of dial, with or without added complications (tourbillon, calendars, or minute repeaters) and in multiple materials (enamel, Geneva stripes pattern, stones, paillonné enamel, ceramic).
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel might look very similar to other watches in the Jaquet Droz collection but it actually comes with improvements in its movement. Since its renewal, Jaquet Droz has been using movements based on a Frédéric Piguet caliber, which comes courtesy of Blancpain (also part of the Swatch Group). A very good movement (as we saw when reviewing the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SW) but now Jaquet Droz has decided to implement new technologies and to introduce the new Caliber 2660Q2.P. It comes with a typical Jaquet Droz layout, with an added date complication, but behind the dial can be found some interesting features, such as silicon and a double barrel. But we’ll get back to this later.
The other feature to point out is the superb, ivory enamel dial. This material, rare and difficult to manufacture, is the main reason for this Jaquet Droz watch’s charm, considering that the rest of the watch is similar to other models already available. Together with the shape and the typical JD display, the package looks brilliant. Now let’s have a closer look at it.
Dial and hands:
Jaquet Droz offers an extremely large selection of materials for its dials. Whereas some brands elect to experiment with cases, displays and functions, the direction of JD is different: using a recognizable and now iconic dial layout in multiple materials, such as rare stones, paillonné enamel, Geneva stripes, ceramic or mother of pearl. For this new edition, the choice made is an ivory enamel which is more complicated to produce than it looks at first sight. Enamel is difficult to produce because it requires skilled hands and several firings in an oven (a technique called grand feu enamel). At each step of the firing, bubbles or cracks can appear in the material and the entire process has to be done again from scratch. Enamel is thus a long, painstaking and risky process. But this is not enough for JD, as the dial of the Grande Seconde Quantième is made of not one but two layers (see the recessed part for the large second). Furthermore, all the black inscriptions are also made of enamel (not in a stamped lacquer as on most of the watches).
The visual result is superb. The color is warm – a soft creamy white – and the dial is textured and lively (due to the small imperfections inherent to enamel). This imperfect render is part of the charm of enamel, and you have to accept some minor bumps and reliefs. The inscriptions are also extremely fine and precise, considering we’re talking about enamel.
As said before, the layout is typical Jaquet Droz, with a small hours subdial at 12 and a large seconds subdial at 6, a legacy inspired by the “8-shape” of Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s pocketwatches. No worries here: the legibility and time reading are great. For this new edition, JD chose to add a useful indication, a pointer-type date display integrated in the seconds subdial. This addition gives a practical aspect to the watch without removing its natural purity. The hands, made in 18k gold matching the case, are very classical in their execution and well-proportioned to the size of the subdials.
Case and strap:
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel comes in four editions, meaning two different sizes and two different materials. You have the choice between a 39-mm and a 43-mm case and between 18k rose gold and 18k white gold. Clearly, rose gold presents a more beautiful visual aspect that matches perfectly with the soft and warm color of the dial. White gold will be more neutral. The choice of the size is more a matter of taste. Whereas 39 mm would be our natural choice for a dress watch, the thickness of the case – 12.1 mm – creates a slightly unbalanced result. The ratio between diameter and thickness seems to be nicer on the 43-mm edition. However, this size requires a more robust wrist to have a comfortable wearing experience. Let’s say that with a wrist under 17.5 cm, the 39-mm is more than recommended. The very curved lugs, however, help to place the watch correctly on the wrist.
The shape of the case is pleasant and perfectly round. Both the bezel, the central part of the case and the caseback seem molded from a single block, without a single visible angle. The execution of the case, of the crystal or of the strap is perfect in every way. Adjustments are precise and polishing is superb. The strap, with an 18k gold pin-buckle, is also very qualitative but can look quite dreary, as it comes without stitching. Nothing wrong with that, though: a strap is easy to change.
Together with the dial, the movement is the main novelty of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel. As part of the Swatch Group, Jaquet Droz can rely on a high-standard Swiss manufacture, Frédéric Piguet, now part of Blancpain. Benefiting from group synergies, Jaquet Droz was using a movement called Caliber 2663 (reviewed here and here), based on the well-known FP1150 (also used by Blancpain and Breguet). Now it’s time for Jaquet Droz to to stand on its own feet and to rely on an improved Piguet movement. The Caliber 2660Q2.p is a modern movement that comes with a number of interesting features, such as a double barrel (for 68 hours of power reserve), a self-winding mechanism with central rotor and, most notably, an antimagnetic silicon balance, something that is slowly becoming a norm within the Swatch Group. It ticks at a fast and precise 28,800-vph frequency.
Even if it remains based on the FP1150, Jaquet Droz chose to add its own decoration, a slightly different shape of the bridges and a new rotor. The finishing is really pleasant, with star-shaped Geneva stripes (starting from the center of the balance wheel), beveled angles on the bridges, and circular graining on the mainplate and bridges (both on the upper and lower sides and on hidden parts). The 18k rose gold rotor shows a skeletonized shape with superb polished angles and a nice 3D engraving.
On the wrist:
Despite its quite impressive diameter – 43mm – this watch does not feel oversized. Combining the pleasant visual effect of a large dial and the comfort of the curved lugs, this is definitely a good size. However, is it the best size?
We also tried the 39-mm edition. Certainly, it looks a bit more classy and elegant on the wrist. However, two aspects make us think that both watches are interesting. With the 39-mm, the subdials feel more tightened, embedded in the dial. The space around them in the 43-mm edition contributes to the visual pleasure. Also, the 39-mm edition feels somewhat unbalanced due to a different diameter/thickness ratio. On the overall, the 43-mm diameter looks more appropriate. Both watches have strengths: the pleasure of a smaller and dressier watch for the 39-mm, a more balanced visual feeling for the 43-mm. Surely it’s best to go to your local dealer and to choose the one that suits you the best.
Jaquet Droz, with its Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel, did it just right. Even if the brand does have a relatively low profile in the West, this new edition was extremely well welcomed by the industry and aficionados. Several reasons for that: a superb dial, a quality set to very high standards, an interesting movement with nice finishes and modern features. The only remaining question is that of which size is the right size, something that will clearly be the choice of the future owner.
The 43-mm edition is priced at 17,600 euros and the 39-mm is priced at 17,200 euros.
- Superb dial
- Great combination of ivory enamel and rose gold
- Perfect execution of the finishes (assembly, polishing)
- Interesting movement with nice finishing
- Comfort for such a large watch
- A brand perhaps not well-known to certain collectors, no matter the quality of this piece
- A quite heavy watch