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Jacob & Co. - Astronomia: time reinvented

Jacob & Co. Astronomia: time reinvented

When Jacob & Co. launched it poetic rendition of the Moon and Earth in the form of the three-dimensional Astronomia in 2014, the brand could not have known the impact the watch would have on the collectors’ world*

Making its original debut to the world in 2014, Jacob & Co.’s Astronomia watch wowed the world from both aesthetic and technical perspectives. Looking back today, and relatively speaking, that first three-dimensional, constantly moving complicated watch seems a bit simple, as the Astronomia has experienced a host of incredible evolutions since then. But rest assured, it was in fact anything but simple.

When it was released, the Astronomia featured a huge domed sapphire crystal case with sapphire sides and a mesmerising, in-full-view rendition of time, the Earth and the Moon. To be clear, it was not an astronomical watch in terms of displaying exact sky charts and astronomy. Instead, it was a three-dimensional work of art and technology that made you stop dead in your tracks to take a second and even third look. The watch housed an extremely complex tourbillon-mounted regulating organ with a four-armed carrier that was several years in the research and design stages. To create the manual-winding JCAM10 calibre, Jacob & Co. partnered with Studio 7H38. The 365-part movement featured a three-axis gravitational tourbillon and powered an orbital display of hours and minutes and featured a spherical constantly rotating Earth globe made of white gold and Grand Feu enamel as well as a constantly rotating Moon that was actually – and continues to this day to be – a Jacob-cut faceted diamond briolette.

Astronomia : le temps réinventé

Astronomia © Jacob & Co.

Essentially, the four arms rotate around the dial every 10 minutes. One arm holds the one-minute triple-axis tourbillon that rotates once every 60 seconds on its own axis in addition to the 20-minute rotation around the dial. It also rotates once every five minutes around the arm that carries it. Opposite that arm is the arm that carries the dial (with hours and minutes indication). That dial also turns to ensure that as the arm makes its way around the dial, the 12 o’clock marker is always at the top (thanks to a patented gear system). The two other arms – one each for the aforementioned moon and Earth – rotate on their axis once every 60 seconds as they make their way around the dial. So dramatic was the watch, and so complex to build, that just 18 pieces were made of the initial collection, and each watch sold for an impressive US $540,000.

It was a watch that could not have been made decades earlier. The case alone required special machining techniques that before accessing modern micromachining techniques were simply not available. Additionally, the watchmaking technology inherent in the piece – with light-weight materials and such close CNC milling – did not exist before. To this day, much of that first technology and aesthetic carries through to the new versions, but there have been many offshoots.

Astronomia : le temps réinventé

© Jacob & Co.

One of the most recent versions is the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Five Minute watch released in 2020 in a nine-piece limited edition. This watch houses an evolved manual-winding movement, the JCAM40 caliber, with 339 parts and offering hours and minutes dial using the patented gear system to keep the 12 o’clock in a constantly vertical position. The first axis rotates once every 60 seconds and the second axis rotates each one minute and 15 seconds, but the tourbillon makes a full revolution around the central axis every five minutes, making for a somewhat speedier journey and thereby capturing the eyes and heart even more. Additionally, the spherical Jacob Cut Diamond that represents the moon has evolved and now features 288 facets and spins every 15 seconds on its own axis.

As if all of that were not enough, Jacob & Co. (in typical Jacob & Co. style) bedecks the Astronomia Tourbillon Five Minutes in more than 17 carats of invisibly set baguette-cut diamonds. The entire backdrop of the movement is meticulously set with 257 baguette-cut diamonds, and another 120 baguette-cut diamonds decorate the 18K rose gold case front and lugs. In all, the watch is a scintillating and poetic rendition of watchmaking prowess, artistic mastery and celestial beauty. This version retails for a cool US $1.1 million. 

*This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years of the Tourbillon in  The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Tourbillons is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.


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