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Jaquet Droz - A Chrono at the heart of the Grande Seconde

Jaquet Droz A Chrono at the heart of the Grande Seconde

It was the only thing missing. Today, a chronograph finally makes an appearance on the legendary Grande Seconde. Jaquet Droz CEO Christian Lattmann tells us all about it.

A revolution at Jaquet Droz? A velvet revolution, perhaps. In two years, the watchmaker has unveiled two new products that have expanded its reach. First, in 2018, there was the “Skelet-One” Grande Seconde. The idea was to disappear the dial of the venerable Grande Seconde, which is nearly three centuries old, and skeletonise its movement. It was a risky exercise for a timepiece that owes its fame almost exclusively to its dial design! But the venture was successful. “Today, the Grande Seconde Skelet-One is one of our most successful launches, and the watch is extremely popular,” admits Christian Lattmann, who wears one himself.

High stakes

Today, the company is unveiling a second major launch: the Grande Seconde Chrono. Here too, the stakes are high. They had to marry an iconic design (the Grande Seconde) with the complication most sought-after by collectors (the chronograph). In short, they had to add a technical complication that represents considerable demands in terms of dial real estate and case thickness, without betraying the collection’s aesthetic.

One complication, two variations

After two years in development, Jaquet Droz has succeeded. Today, the watchmaker is launching two models. The first features the familiar face of the Grande Seconde: the vertical figure-of-8, the central large second (which becomes the chronograph second), plus a 30-minute counter. It comes in a limited series of 88.

Le Chrono s’invite au cœur de la Grande Seconde

Grande Seconde Chronograph © Jaquet Droz

The standard collection is different. For these three steel timepieces, Jaquet Droz has opted for an off-centre arrangement already familiar from the Grande Seconde collection. “It seemed to us an obvious choice to use this for the Chrono,” explains Christian Lattmann. “It had to be possible to differentiate the Chrono at a glance. A design with two pushers would have achieved this, but we decided to go with a monopusher, which is more popular with collectors. That was why we needed another differentiating element, and it’s where the off-centre design comes in. It’s a tried and tested aesthetic, one with which our collectors are already familiar from three-handed models, and it lends itself very well to a chronograph.”

Le Chrono s’invite au cœur de la Grande Seconde

Grande Seconde Chronograph © Jaquet Droz

Le Chrono s’invite au cœur de la Grande Seconde

Grande Seconde Chronograph © Jaquet Droz

Le Chrono s’invite au cœur de la Grande Seconde

Grande Seconde Chronograph © Jaquet Droz

No compromise

The design and finish were carefully considered throughout the process. Nevertheless, some choices came more easily than others. One of the easier ones was the inclusion of a solid gold rotor. “This element has a direct influence on the price, but compromise was out of the question,” explains Christian Lattmann. At CHF 20,000 in steel and CHF 31,900 in gold, every model will be equipped with a gold rotor, and the manufacturer has chosen to absorb the cost of this precious element itself. “I considered that, for a piece of this calibre, a solid gold oscillating weight was non-negotiable for our collectors.”

Le Chrono s’invite au cœur de la Grande Seconde

Solid gold rotor © Jaquet Droz

Other added-value elements include manual finishing of each component and the dial, the glass box sapphire crystal which is particularly challenging to produce (providing maximum dial area without a chapter ring) and, of course, the development of a 100% exclusive calibre for this new complication. “The Grande Seconde Chrono is here to stay. It will be around for many years, and we didn’t want to compromise on anything. It’s a bold piece. In that respect, it’s like our clients, who are looking for a different kind of niche watchmaking, something that sets them apart, a genuine watchmaking statement,” concludes Christian Lattmann.

The Grande Seconde collection

The brand

An elegant, outward-looking philosophy that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment is still at the heart of Jaquet Droz's identity. The fine and rare handcrafts practiced at the company’s workshops produce exquisite miniature works of art and automata that combine the best of design with unprecedented levels of horological know-how.

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