To many, the first thing that comes to mind when the name Jaquet Droz comes up is the brand’s astounding automaton creations both old and new. Things like the Charming Bird and other wild – not to mention VERY expensive – machina are always exciting to see, however the brand also has a much softer and more subtle catalog that is noteworthy in its own right.
The Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel is just one of a healthy collection of more formal and dressy timepieces that still retains that unique bit of character. Priced a little north of $10,000 in white gold, it faces some stiff competition; however I was curious to see whether its visual charm would start to fade after a week on the wrist.
Simple classic elegance is the name of the game here without a doubt. The double Grand Feu enamel dial pays great tribute to the earlier days of watchmaking, though in the same breath its pair of subdials break out its seconds and date indication in a way that give it a unique and eye-catching appearance. A few colleagues were quick to point out loose similarities between it and grander pieces from the likes of A. Lange & Söhne and F.P. Journe, with the word loose being the critical point in my opinion.
The case design of the Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel is another key component to its unique character. Having only looked at imagery and not the spec sheets, I’d expected the Quantieme to be a fair bit thinner. For lack of a better description, the piece feels a little pudgy for a dress watch, however this is part of its charm. Between the way that the case tapers inwards as it reaches its caseback and the way its stubby lugs curve sharply inward, the case relies much more on its architecture than it does its choice of finishes to grab attention. The entire white gold case is mirror-polished, which is a detail I’m not typically fond of, but in this case it works well.
Around to the business end, the Quantieme’s automatic movement is beautifully decorated with radially widening côtes de Genève stripes that center on a key detail of the in-house movement’s design – its silicon balance spring. When launched a couple of years ago, it was the first time the brand chose to use a synthetic hairspring material. The movement uses a pair of mainspring barrels to achieve a power reserve of 68 hours.
In the Field
As mentioned above, the Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel reads like a fairly traditional dress watch on paper. A 39mm case, an enamel dial, and blued non-luminescent hands would make you think its only purpose would be to wedge under a shirt cuff and call it a day, but that couldn’t be further from the case.
This watch’s case design and dial configuration lends themselves remarkably well to all things a little more fashion-forward. Much in the same way that the pairing of modernist architecture and mid-century modern furniture works out remarkably well, the pairing of this piece with things like bold printed tees by McQueen, moto-inspired denim, or anything properly loud and colorful is a success. It’s safe to say these combinations would not succeed to the same extent with the red gold variant of the Quantieme, but in white gold, it really couldn’t have worked out better.
For those with large wrists (or simply those who prefer a more heavy-handed wrist presence), a 43mm variant is available in both white and red gold. Given how large the 39mm wears, you’d have to have pretty beefy wrists to rock the 43mm comfortably.
Given my propensity for strap changes with any given piece, you’d have expected the Jaquet Droz to sport an out-of-the-ordinary selection during its time in my custody.
I partly blame an 18mm lug width for my inaction, but in the same breath, I found the Quantieme so well suited to its plain black leather strap that I wasn’t all that compelled to change it. This watch is all about the dial details and adding a different strap to the equation would only assist in detracting from its strongest point of appeal. I would go so far as to say that even a swap onto a similarly styled brown leather wouldn’t do this Jaquet Droz any good.
One of the biggest takeaways from my time with the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel is most certainly its versatility. The old-school guys out there hunting for a classic slim dress watch will be better served browsing the catalogs of Zenith and Jaeger-LeCoultre – without a doubt.
Those willing to be a little more forward thinking about what a dress watch can be and how it should be worn, on the other hand, are much more likely to bond with the slightly outside-the-box approach found in many watches from Jaquet Droz of late. Granted, at $19,400 in 39mm form and $20,000 for the 43mm, the Quantieme faces some stiff competition, but depending on your tastes, it’s an option worthy of serious consideration.