Sporting a tiny “jumping hours” display, the 2009 Jaquet Droz Les Douze Villes (ref. J010133202) is equipped with a peculiar, but fancy second time-zone display. Operated with a push of a button located at 2 o’clock, the GMT indicator doesn’t seem to be as exquisitely handy as similar displays on “real” worldtimers, but something tells me that that’s not what people will buy this beautiful timekeeper for. You see, presented in an 18-karat red gold body and featuring their signature black Grand Feu enamel on the dial, this is so far one of the most elegant accessories one can buy.
Although Jaquet Droz is not the first name that comes to mind when you start to think about Swiss-bands brands of the past, the patriarch of the industry may be more important for the human history than, say, Abraham Louis Breguet.
His famous automata were the first androids on the face of the Earth, for that matters. Currently owned by the Swatch group, the Swiss brand with its unique expertise in making objects of art that also happen to tell time stays in a good company of products from such established brands as the Swiss-based Breguet, Blancpain, or even something more “casual” like an Omega, as well as the well-known Glashutte Original and A. Lange & Sohne that were successfully resurrected after the fall of Communism.
As you must have already noticed, this new Jaquet Droz Les Douze Villes belongs to an exclusive class of “one-handers.” Inspired by vintage “regulators”, they usually have their hours and minutes indicators placed at different sub-dials. In some rare cases, the concept goes even further with just a single hour hand circling a 12-hour or even 24-hour scale making the job of reading time a bit harder than usual.
However, one-handedness here is not a disability factor: sporting only a minute hand, it has a jumping hour indicator at 12 o’clock, which makes the dial even more legible than a normal time-telling device. Well, it is true at least in good lighting conditions, because numerals on the hour indicator don’t seem to be covered with SuperLuminova or any other luminescent substance.
At 6 o’clock, the dial has another window with names of 12 cities (hence the “Les Douze Villes” part of the name).
Cycling through the names of the cities with a push of a button that is conveniently placed at 2 o’clock, you will see the jumping hour indicator changing to the respective time zone.
Quite handy, that, if you happen to be a frequent traveler, although you will still have to remember the difference between time zones when thinking about calling home.
Also, in certain cases, the function may become a source of constant irritation for its owner, especially if his home city will be on the other way of the GMT wheel. On the other hand, like in many luxury watches, the function is of a purely decorative function here and you will probably use it only a couple of times per month just to show-off.
Although sporting a price stick of full 32,000 CHF at the time of launch, this new timekeeper is far, light-years far from being called ‘affordable’, I would still say that, given the material of the case and the quality of the self-winding movement, the MSRP is more or less justified or, if you like, is at least in the same ballpark with most similarly specced watches from similarly well-advertised Swiss-based brands.
See also: de GRISOGONO Fuso Quadrato
Photos: Jaquet Droz
Jaquet Droz Les Douze Villes (ref. J010133202) specification
Price range: 32,000 CHF (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Jaquet Droz 5153, mechanical, automatic, double barrel, 28,800 vph, 22 ct white gold rotor, Swiss Made
Complications: Jumping hour, second time-zone (GMT)
Power reserve: 68 hours
Case: 18-karat red gold
Dimensions: 43.00 mm
Dial: Black Grand Feu enameled
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Rolled-edge hand made black alligator leather with 18-karat red gold ardillon buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective