The odd member of the so called “prestige brands” of high-end luxury watch makers under the Swatch Group umbrella has always been Jaquet Droz. The brand’s history is linked to a man (Pierre Jaquet Droz) who created moving dolls in the 18th century called “automat.” These were machines existing somewhere between puppets and robots. These mechanical dolls used primitive ‘programming’ (thematically similar to that of mechanical music boxes) to perform preset animations that wowed the wealthy elite of the time. Even by today’s standards those historic automata Jaquet Droz creations are considered highly sophisticated.
Why did Pierre Jaquet Droz create such things? Sources indicate that he did so to bring attention to his timepieces and mechanical singing birds. History shows that his automated dolls fascinated rulers throughout the world, and their invitations to see his creations allowed him to offer them his pocket watches as well. Today Jaquet Droz attempts to further this heritage by offering both unique timepieces creations and more conservative tasteful watches with a timeless, old world charm. The Eclipse (ref. J012633202) is a prime example of these latter creations.
The watch is an annual calendar style timepiece with a unique moon phase indicator. Instead of a moving disc with two moons on it that sits under the dial, there is a golden moon disc right on the dial. Flanked by the common accompanying stars, the moon has a round mask that moves over it from side to side — bit by bit each day — to indicate the shape of the moon during each phase. The mask moves just one tiny position each day, like a slow swinging pendulum, “eclipsing” the moon on the dial to various degrees. The mask itself is made out of sapphire crystal that has been made black via a PVD coating process.
Aside from the moon phase indicator, the dial has small windows for the day of the week and the month. These are gently and elegantly placed to emphasize a tasteful look to the dial. Around the periphery of the dial is the date, indicated by a serpent style hand (that find themselves on some other Jaquet Droz timepieces as well). Unlike perpetual calendars that don’t require adjustment during the lifetime of the wearer (assuming they are continuously running), Annual calendars require adjustment once a year during the month of February. One of the best parts of the watch is the dial, it is a rich glossy black that is made from an enamel called “grand feu.” The result is a deep black tone that highlights the dial elements quite nicely.
Set in a 43-mm wide case, the style of the watch is tasteful, with smooth lines, and a modest demeanor. Though as a luxury timepiece it is in 18-karat red gold, with gold hands and elements on the dial. Inside the watch is a Jaquet Droz 6553L automatic movement that has been fitted with a 22-karat white gold automatic rotor. The movement has two barrels and a power reserve of 68 hours. The watch comes attached to a handmade black alligator leather strap. The Jaquet Droz Eclipse is priced at $27,900. www.jaquet-droz.com.
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.