January 2, 2014
by Ariel Adams
What I like about the Jaquet Droz Grande Heure GMT watch is that it has a rather self-explanatory appeal. I don’t need to discuss at length its technical merits or history to get you excited. What you have is a clever adaptation of the one-hand watch design mixed with the elegant simplicity of Jaquet Droz’s design ethos. Released as part of Jaquet Droz’s 2013 watch collection, the Grande Heure GMT offers a simple and practical approach to the two time zone dress watch.
Single hand watches aren’t too common, but they are more popular now than ever due to brands such as Meistersinger who produce them. The idea is that you have a watch with only an hour hand, and no minute hand. These can be in the form of traditional 12 hour dials, or in this case, a 24 hour dial. That means the single hour hand makes one full rotation each day. Time is read with the single hand as it travels between the hours as per normal. The approach is elegant and unique, but there is a clear trade off in precision. This means that you can’t really have to-the-minute precision. That is further diluted on a 24 hour dial such as this. You can see that there are five indicators between each hour. The one in the middle is clearly the half hour mark, and the two small dots don’t really refer to a specific moment in the hour that is easy to read (such as “1:45”). So basically, you have a dial that is precise to within about 10 minutes. If you need the exact minute, check your phone. If you are like me, then being on time within 10 minutes is something to be personally proud of.
The trick here of course is that the Grande Heure GMT watch has two hands. Each is an hour hand, and that is probably worth knowing in advance to save you from being utterly confused as to what time it is when trying to use this fine looking timepiece. GMT watches offer two time zones, often with one hand showing time in a 24 hour format so that it can be readily determined whether it is AM or PM in the other time zone. Here you simple have two 24 hour hands… and no minutes.
Each of the hands is distinct in color. The main hand matches the 18k rose gold of the case, while the other hand is in blued steel. The large open dial serves as a gorgeous minimalist palette for showing off the long, properly sized hands. I am a sucker for long, thin hands and this design easily speaks to me due to its elegant, sophisticated look. It helps that the off-white ivory dial isn’t lacquered, but in true Jaquet Droz fashion, painted via a grand feu enamel technique.
A neat little trick that adds to the appeal is that if you want a truly one-handed watch you can have one with this watch. By simply aligning the two timezones to display the exact same time, you can hide the blue hands under the gold hand. They connect in a way that makes them appear as a single hand, which gives the Grande Heure GMT watch two different personalities.
The watch case itself is thankfully on the larger side being 43mm wide, again in 18k rose gold. That is the only material offered for now, but I suspect additional metals will be available in the future. The case is also rather thin, so it looks great on the wrist and sits comfortably. The thin bezel helps the watch look even larger, which helps show off the simple and attractive dial.
Inside the watch is the Jaquet Droz caliber 5N50.4 automatic movement with a power reserve of 68 hours. The automatic rotor is 22k gold as well, and the entire movement is visible through the case back window on the rear of the watch. Attached to the watch is a typically nice black alligator strap with those nice rolled edges that offer no visible stitching. I really love those types of straps.
While the Jaquet Droz Grande Heure GMT isn’t a complicated watch, it is surprisingly satisfying and stylistically very sharp. Priced “within the brand,” for those who like to bolster their collection with unique, yet very wearable pieces, this is an attractive offering. Price is $26,400. jaquet-droz.com