Many high-end watch brands aim to have a popular luxury sport watch, and the Jaquet Droz SW collection is such a product. This timepiece category is difficult to explain because these aren’t truly activity sport watches, but rather a different flavor of status lifestyle watch. On the one end you have extremely classic timepieces whose intention is to be timeless (Jaquet Droz makes those in such models as the Grande Seconde), and on the other end of the spectrum are more modern, edgy, and masculine products whose aim is to speak about the tastes and personality of the wearer.

The most popular luxury sport watch is the Rolex Submariner, but I would argue that it doesn’t fit into the category we are talking about here. Why? Well, for one thing, the Rolex Submariner is a true sport tool dive watch, even if it is very expensive. Getting closer to where Jaquet Droz wants to be with the SW, one can compare it to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or the Patek Philippe Nautilus. These latter two product families represent the envy spots of many other high-end brands. These two watch families are not only consistently in demand, but also actually trendy. Watch enthusiasts to celebrities are seen wearing them. The appeal of a luxury sport watch is in the design and craftsmanship, not the actual durability. One might say that these are watches for people who want to show off success, but at the same time don’t want to evoke a sense of age and inactivity.

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Why is this important? For many years luxury watches seemed to be made to exclusively fit with suits and other formal attire. Bankers and CEOs would look great in their dressy luxury watches that were made to look professional. More recently, however, luxury has taken a decidedly casual turn, with leisure being seen as more desirable than responsibility. That means all the men and women who want to show that they are “rich enough to dress and do what they like,” tend to gravitate toward sportier, more lively designs than many of the classically styled timepieces that might come to mind.

Both the Royal Oak and Nautilus are connected to the worlds of boating. The three classic rich men’s pursuits that timepieces have been made for are driving, flying, and boating. Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe both enlisted the help of designer Gerald Genta for these two watches, and it is known that he was heavily inspired by yachting culture. That was about 40 years ago. Fast forward to today, and the inspiration behind many luxury sport watches is much more amorphous. The Jaquet Droz SW is a good example because while it does have a macho sportiness to the design, it doesn’t clearly fit within any one specific activity (such as boating or flying).

I last reviewed a version of the Jaquet Droz SW on aBlgotoWatch more than 11 years ago. That was of the all-steel model (with a ceramic bezel) on a rubber strap. In the intervening time, I had the chance to spend a few weeks with the reference J029037141, which is the steel and rose-gold version of that same watch. Yes, the name isn’t particularly inspired, but the model had an updated movement as well as a two-tone steel and 18k red-gold construction, in addition to a bracelet. Just to be clear, there was also an all-steel model on the bracelet, without the added red-gold elements and with a monochromatic dial.

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Quality wise the SW is a very well-made timepiece, full of intricate details and impressive finishing. It isn’t a perfect watch, nor does it try to be. With a design this avant-garde Jaquet Droz knows that it has no business trying to go after a mainstream luxury watch customer. It is trying to find those people around the world who are compelled by the attractive, yet clearly different design of the SW. “SW” by the way stands simply for “Sport Watch,” in case you were wondering. How is it sporty? For one, the watch is 45mm wide and rich with architected details all over the case, bracelet, and dial. The bracelet is beefy and the bezel “claws” evoke a purpose-built machine.

I’m by no means being hard on Jaquet Droz, but I do like to joke about the connection with the term “sport.” I fully standby luxury sport watches, but I do wish there was a better term for timepieces like the Jaquet Droz SW that while interesting and fun to wear, by no means should be seriously considered if you are engaging in any type of serious sporting activity aside from miles of high street shopping. You wear a watch like this exclusively for the design.

The main part of the design is the figure eight-style layout for the time and seconds. This is borrowed from the Grande Seconde collection produced by the brand. The SW builds on that with the interesting dial and case. A horizontal beam-style structure in the dial is nicely finished and looks like a part of an unfinished skyscraper. Overall, there is a somewhat deconstructed architectural feel to the design of the timepiece. If someone can offer more opinions as to what the design of the SW reminds them of, I would be happy to hear it.

At 11.93mm thick, the SW case isn’t too thick, but again the case is large given the width. On the bracelet, this is a heavy watch. The bracelet features nicely polished steel with brushed red gold center links. The ends of the links are semi-hollowed out and given a sandblasted finishing. While the bracelet looks cool, I have two qualms with it. The first issue is the lack of any micro-adjust or even half-link for the bracelet. That means you can’t precisely adjust the size of the bracelet. You could get lucky and the watch fits your wrist perfectly, or you might find that the bracelet is either a bit too tight or too loose (which is the issue that I had). My second issue with the bracelet is that the 18k red gold elements are caps on steel components.

The links aren’t plated or coated in bold, but rather an 18k red-gold piece is placed on top of a steel piece. From the outside, it looks like a two-tone steel and gold bracelet, but from the inside, it is all steel. This is of course done to reduce the cost of the watch as there is less gold to use. However, at around $30,000 I fully expect all-gold center links. The bezel is 18k gold, and there are more red-gold accents on the dial.

The look of two-tone steel and red gold is of course handsome. It isn’t a style for everyone, but those who know me know that I very much like two-tone watches. Again, there are all steel versions for those who are interested. I love the detailing on the crown structure. The crown itself has the dual-star Jaquet Droz logo, and the overall intricacy of the crown guard is just cool.

I easily forgive the Jaquet Droz SW Steel – Red Gold watch as having no other purpose (aside from telling the time) than looking interesting and distinctive on the wrist. One of the important parts of any watch design becoming a classic is being different looking from other similar objects. In other words, to be a timeless, classic design, the design must be immediately distinguishable from other watches. The second part of being a classic design is repetition. Assuming Jaquet Droz keeps making these (and there is a very healthy variety of SW watches already out there), then in the future more people are going to discover these products and ideally feel comfortable putting one on.

I did mention that this 2017 SW got an updated movement from the one I reviewed back in 2012. The updates are minor, but worth noting. The changes I am familiar with are in the regulation system. Jaquet Droz (as part of Swatch Group) uses a new balance wheel as well as a silicon hairspring. That should improve accuracy and overall performance over time. The movement is exclusive to the Jaquet Droz caliber 2663A.Si-S. It is an automatic movement with 68 hours of power reserve (between two barrels) and operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph). The automatic movement has a great look to it with excellent finishing and beautiful design. The skeletonized rotor allows for enhanced viewing of the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback.

If there is anything I could ask from Jaquet Droz, it is to have their marketing department give this watch a bit more personality. Connect it to some type of lifestyle, activity, cause, meaning, or anything. What this watch needs is some more guidance from the brand to help would-be buyers better understand it. Once they do, I think they will truly appreciate the attention to detail and a strong sense of messaging that Jaquet Droz was able to include in the watch. Despite a lot of quirks and personality, the Jaquet Droz SW collection is one that I continue to admire and like. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the disposable income where something like this seems like a safe buy, but I would love to recommend a watch like this to anyone who can afford it. Jaquet Droz is the most boutique brand of the Swatch Group and continues to make a name for itself by offering designs that you simply don’t see in other brands. For those who like the macho look of these masculine sport watches, you get to combine your love of that design sensibility with a truly decent horological item. When you want to show off taste, a little decadence, and a lot of personality, something like the Jaquet Droz SW Steel – Red Gold might be just what you are looking for.

While the Jaquet Droz SW Steel – Red Gold reference J029037141 does not feature on the brand’s website anymore, it can be had new from some retailers for under $25,000 USD, or used from others for under $18,000 USD (original pricing was $27,300 USD). To learn more about the brand’s current collections, including the tourbillon version of this watch, please visit

Necessary Data
>Brand: Jaquet Droz
>Model: SW Steel – Red Gold reference J029037141
>Price: ~$25,000 USD new, ~$18,000 USD used
>Size: 45mm wide and 11.93mm thick
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Dive
>Best characteristic of watch: Inspired design that after all these years continues to look fresh and interesting. Nice movement and for the most part a comfortable wearing experience (if you wrist can accommodate the size). Nothing else out there like it.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Many will argue that the size is too large, even though it is specifically intended to be bold and visible. Not enough water resistance for size (and name). Bracelet lacks the ability to more precisely fit it. For the price there should be solid-gold middle links.

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