Insider: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Paillonnée. Hands-on with a Very Special 8-piece Limited Edition with Grand Feu Blue Enamel Dial.

With its signature figure eight on the dial and encased in an exquisitely mirror polished 18K red gold case measuring 43 mm in diameter, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Paillonnée with blue Grand Feu enamel dial reference J003033424 pays homage to the artistry and mastery of its founder Pierre Jaquet Droz. Born in 1721 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, at age seventeen in 1738, Pierre Jaquet Droz had already opened his first workshop for clock making and produced a series of grandfather clocks with very sophisticated movements. But what made Jaquet Droz even more prominent and famous, were the three humanoid automatons —The Writer, The Draughtsman and The Musician— that were presented in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1774 and a year later taken to France to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Just like the automatons that Jaquet Droz is very well known for, such is the art of paillonné on his dials being the only watch manufacture still doing this type of work nowadays. Paillonné enameling is a very complex old technique that dates back to the 19th century, which consists in meticulously positioning tiny paillons —thin pieces— of gold, one by one —in this case birds and other figures—, to create a perfectly geometrical pattern placed on the colored enamel itself, and then subsequently setting the design under a coat of translucent enamel fondant utilizing the Grand Feu enamel technique.

A fired enamel dial, sometimes referred to as a 'real enamel dial', is made by layering very fine powdered glass over a metallic disc and then subsequently heating it up to very high temperatures —900° Celsius or more— for several times until the right color, hardness and texture is obtained. Considering that the birds and other shapes are already in place on the dial, the process of finishing with Grand Feu is simply unfathomable and a true work of art.

Things You Need to Know

The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Blue Grand Feu Paillonnée features one of the most spectacular dials we've seen from this brand and as far as the paillonnée work this is as good or even better than the work realized by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. —considered one of the modern experts of paillonné.

With its signature figure eight in an applied 18K red gold ring, the new Grande Seconde Paillonnée stays true to the legendary design created by Jaquet Droz and its number '8' a symbol of universal strength and good luck among Chinese people. While the hours and minutes are indicated at the top with a Roman numerals chapter ring, the seconds take a much more prominent presence at the bottom of the dial just as the name of this watch conveys—Grande Seconde in French translates into 'big seconds'.

Exquisitely executed, this object d'art brings time in a very elegant way with a silver opaline dial framed by the applied figure eight that is secured by blued steel screws and further accentuated by blued hands. As its flawless paillonné dial on blue Grand Feu enamel takes the center stage while telling the time, the wearer can only wonder the incredible number of hours that it took to make this masterpiece as he/she checks the hour.

The Movement

The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Paillonnée is powered by the Jaquet Droz calibre 2663. This 30-jewel automatic movement provides an impressive power reserve of 68 hours while beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph when fully wound. For this particular watch, the 18K red gold oscillating weight is partially skeletonized and bead-blast finished. Definitely a treat to the eyes via the display case back.

On the Wrist & Pricing

Delivered on a handmade black alligator strap with rolled edges and 18K red gold pin buckle, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Paillonnée with blue Grand Feu enamel dial wears true its 43 mm size. A stunning watch that brings the best of Jaquet Droz to the table and a conversation piece with its 19th century artististry dial.

This watch is only available in a limited edition of 8 pieces.

Sticker Price $42,000 USD. For more info on Jaquet Droz click here.