New Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One: Perhaps The Greatest Watch I Would Never Wear
by Martin Green
Did I ever mention that I don’t like skeleton watches? Before we get off on the wrong foot here, I do admire them. In particular, I enjoy holding the clasp and lower part of the strap and admiring the intricacies of a skeletonized movement with light shining in from the backside.
What I don’t like is wearing it when all this stunning craftsmanship must be admired against a backdrop of pressed skin and hair.
Those clever Swiss!
So now that I’ve admitted my bias against skeleton watches, it might come as a surprise that I was quite taken with the Grande Seconde Skelet-One when Jaquet Droz introduced it in 2018. For me, this was the sports watch from this brand that we have been waiting for. To my eye, the SW – Jaquet Droz’s declared sporty timepiece – has always looked a bit heavy (remember I’m a dress watch guy).
With the Grande Seconde Skelet-One, we get Jaquet Droz’s signature design in a very avant-garde interpretation yet without it diluting the strong DNA. This is quite an achievement and one accomplished by showing it all.
Jaquet Droz took an industrial approach to skeletonizing the caliber. I also like the way in which the sapphire disk of the Grande Seconde interacts with the smaller hour-and-minute subdial. The design it is as sophisticated as it looks: it appears as though the disk and dial are separate, but they are connected.
Another aspect that I profoundly enjoy on this watch is how these subdials are secured with five gold screws. This is reminiscent of old pendulum clocks, yet done in such a way that you will never mistake it for one. They also happen to be perfectly aligned.
This should have been a given in consideration of the watch’s price point, but many brands overlook details like this. The whole design of the case is created in such a way that it sucks you in so that you cannot help but enjoy the beauty of it all – and you might even forget to check the time altogether!
What you also might forget is that the Grande Seconde Skelet-One is fitted with an automatic caliber. This is partially because Jaquet Droz gave the gold oscillating weight a similar finish as the movement as seen from the front and skeletonized it so that only its outline remains in place.
The designers even found room to hide not one, but two mainspring barrels giving the watch a total power reserve of a generous 68 hours.
Two new Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-Ones
Jaquet Droz is a brand that predominantly makes watches for a more classically inclined clientele, which is one of the reasons that I like the brand so much.
Because the Grande Seconde Skelet-One is so different from the brand’s other pieces, I prefer it not in gold. One of the two freshly introduced models features a case made of ceramic plasma. At heart, this material is just like any other ceramic, very light and highly resistant.
What makes it different is that it is created by exposing white ceramic to a gas heated to 20,000°C, resulting in a metal-like finish, which gives the Grande Seconde Skelet-One a special sporty appearance.
The other new introduction is a revised model in red gold. Here, it is chiefly the hour-and-minute subdial that makes the difference with its brushed finish and baton hour markers. I do feel that it gives the watch an even stronger appearance and love it in combination with the grey alligator strap with a finish that makes it look almost like rubber.
This strap adds a lot of contrast to the red gold case, while at the same time creating a visual bond with the skeletonized movement.
Professional and personal opinions
What it all boils down to is that the Grande Seconde Skelet-One has always been good, but now it just got a bit better. With the ceramic plasma version, the brand flexes its muscles in innovative materials, creating, in my opinion, something that comes very close to being the ultimate Jaquet Droz sports watch.
The red gold version’s appearance becomes stronger by changing just a few details. I believe that this is a watch that will enjoy a warm welcome by Jaquet Droz’s clientele, which often looks for something familiar with a modern twist.
Do these two watches change my personal opinion about skeleton watches? No, they don’t.
However, what they do accomplish is that I would love to have a Plexiglas holder on which I could hang the ceramic plasma version of the Grande Seconde Skelet-One and admire it daily as a sort of desk clock – with a backdrop that is not my skin and pressed hairs, but the garden.
For more information, please visit www.jaquet-droz.com/en/news/the-two-new-faces-the-grande-seconde-skelet-one.
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Grande Second Skelet-One
Case: 41.5 x 12.48 mm, red gold or plasma ceramic
Movement: automatic Caliber 2663 SQ with twin spring barrels, silicon balance spring and pallet fork
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $23,600/€24,000 in plasma ceramic; $33,600/€34,100 in red gold
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