Why I Bought It: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Paillonnee
Note: Yesterday I published a post referencing a review that I wrote for another blog that was not published because the watch is for sale. This is the mentioned post. Again, the watch IS for sale here but it also is my watch. It’s not for sale for any other reason than everything I have is for sale — I don’t get too attached to any particular watch. The following is why I think it is a great watch and why I bought it:
Art is a word that is tossed around with reckless abandon in the watch industry. Mechanical art. The art of watchmaking. What started as conscious rebranding has become an accepted fact. After the quartz crisis in the early 70’s, mechanical watches became useless. Useless AND expensive? That has traditionally been the domain of art. And yet, as an art lover and collector, I hope it is safe that I submit that just because something is useless and expensive does not make it art. No, art is an expression of life: beauty, emotion, triumph, pain, love, death, time, space – art concerns itself with the big concepts that most of us ignore for the majority of our waking lives. While it is not surprising that watch brands would like to classify their products as art, the vast majority fall short. This is not such a watch.
Why I bought it:
I must admit, I am not a Jaquet Droz fan. I generally do not seek out watches from the big groups (JD is a Swatch Group company). The screwed on dials always remind me of FP Journe, a mark I am much more drawn to. The movements, mostly F Piquet derived, are very nice, but nothing to get my heart racing. However, when I first saw the Paillonnee dial about a decade ago, I was instantly captivated.
Quite simply, there is nothing like it. And that is for good reason. There is only one woman in the world capable of making this dial. Her name is Ms. Anita Porchet: Master Enameler. Here is the process as I understand it:
First, the white gold dial is hand engine turned into a beautiful “sunburst” pattern. This radiates under the eventual enameling. Enamel itself is basically painted glass. Colored, or clear, glass is ground into a very fine powder, dissolved into a solution, painted, and then fired at very high temperatures to create a smooth surface. Ms. Porchet makes her own enamel out of the finest glass she has collected through the years. In this case, the color is a striking blue, reminiscent of Yves Klein. It is applied in multiple layers to give a depth that simply has to be seen in person to fully appreciate. Next the paillons.
Paillons are made of gold foil. They were made in the 18th Century. When these are used this entire art form will be history. Ms. Porchet creates the pattern designs herself, then hand lays the paillons onto the enamel. Any misplacement or slip at this step ruins the entire dial. Once the paillons are fully placed they are then covered with more enamel to seal their fate. Not surprisingly, she makes only 8 pieces of each design.
Perhaps a better wordsmith than I could describe the final product here. The best I can do is one word: Art.
Buy it if:
- You can find one (the last I saw for sale was about a decade ago. After this sells, I expect similar)
- You appreciate true art and craft
- You are as interested in aesthetics as you are in mechanics
- You like blue
- You are not scared to wear a unique watch that has a feminine side to it
Don’t buy it if:
- You are a brand snob
- You assign value to watches solely based on things like “in-house” or number of complications
- You do not like flowers
Seriously, this is a unique piece in the watch world. It is one of the few watches I’ve owned where I can truly justify the price. I sincerely hope you get to see one in person at some point in your WIS journey. In the meantime, check out the video review I did of it here: