Yes, there is always a place in watchmaking for the one-off, the bespoke, the just plain out there tech tour-de-force.
You get that from brands like Jaquet Droz, who still produce watches called Automata, because they feature tweeting birds or stuff that moves on the dial, apart from the hands that is..
That’s how much of watchmaking in Europe was before the French Revolution; luxury, bejewelled automata for the noble elite, who had more money than was good for them, some might say. Now watch brands are keen to do more social good, times change.
Here’s the word from JD;
For the ninth consecutive time, Jaquet Droz is proud to donate a unique piece of its own creation, designed exclusively for Only Watch, a charity sale to benefit the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophy), and featuring a degree of technical ambition and aesthetic never-before achieved: A Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon adorned with a plique-à-jour enamel dial.
The original idea was to extend the initial purpose of the Grande Seconde to provide its owner with the finest and most accurate reading of the seconds—hence its largely dimensioned and off-center dial at 6 o’clock, exclusively dedicated to this effect. How could this precision be achieved? By adding a tourbillon.
This escapement, itself a genuine watchmaking complication, aims to compensate for the harmful effects undergone by a timepiece that performs across multiple planes, all subjected to the force of gravity which alters its precision.
The tourbillon of the new Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon “Only Watch” was born of Jaquet Droz’s in-house expertise, but entirely reworked in the purest chronometric approach. Thanks to its realization in titanium and the elimination of the sapphire bridges, the cage has been lightened and optimized with regards to its chronometric functions.
The balance spring and pallet lugs are made of silicon. Highly open to let light pass through, the tourbillon gives the illusion of being both large and lightweight all at once. Completely revised and placed at noon, it accords the piece a dedicated identity of strength and technicality.
The underlying aesthetic architecture is as technical as it is unique. The skeleton structure is brand new: while the original Skelet-One favored soft and supple curves, the Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon “Only Watch” focuses on straight lines, angles, modernity and perfect symmetry.
This very contemporary skeletonization is as technical as its highly precise tourbillon movement can be, furthering the technical and aesthetic consistency of the piece. Its bridges, finished in black, confer a powerful matte appearance. The tourbillon cage follows the geometry of the skeleton movement, with a triple cross shape which, once a minute, aligns perfectly with its bridges.
For Only Watch, Jaquet Droz put to work its Ateliers d’Art as well, in order to produce a highly exclusive plique-à-jour dial, made specially for the famous charity sale. Once again, whereas the Maison’s most recent plique-à-jour creations featured curves and soft, slightly domed lines, the Skelet-One Tourbillon “Only Watch” is made up of various straight and geometric sections separated by white gold, thus forming a dial which has been entirely polished flat. The Maison achieved this unprecedented result by applying an extremely fine diamond powder polish to each area of the enamel, the only kind capable of achieving this thickness.
Every tone of enamel has been painstakingly selected for the model and fired at a very high temperature several times in a row. The choice of these colors therefore owes nothing to chance: a color chart was proposed by Only Watch associating different tones with certain characteristics. The Maison thus translated these variations of red, orange and yellow into an expression of happiness, passion, optimism and even energy—all values that support the cause championed by Only Watch.