In an age of monster watches and multiple complications, Jaquet Droz has shown itself to be the master of handsome understatement. But, with the Grande Heure Black Enamel, the renowned Swiss watchmaker has outdone even itself in the realm of minimalist design. Not only does the face have one dial, it has but one hand—clocking the hour.
With this watch (and its limited-edition partner the Grande Heure Ivory Enamel), the wearer proclaims not just an appreciation of casual elegance, but a casual relationship to the concept of time. On each watch the hour hand swings around alighting on intervals that are only as accurate as to the nearest 10 minutes.
The company describes the Grande Heure as the time piece for “the person of leisure” and indeed it’s not for someone who frets about being a few minutes late. Nevertheless, it is one of the coolest and most striking faces we have seen. The day starts at the bottom of the dial with midnight marked as 24. It then progresses through the rest of the sequence in numbered hourly increments in the military timekeeping fashion. Noon (12) is at the apex of the dial. Within each hour unit are unnumbered markings: five (every 10 minutes, in the case of the Black Enamel) and three (every 15 minutes, with the Ivory Enamel). In the pictured Black Enamel watch, the time would be about 4:20 p.m. (16:00 hours plus nearly two 10-minute increments).
The Black Enamel is an unlimited edition, with 18-karat red-gold case and hand for $22,300. The limited-edition Ivory Enamel comes in 18-karat white gold with a blued-steel hour indicator. Each is 43 millimeters around. The latter displays its limited-edition number on the face. The company believes the number “8” possesses some measure of magic and typically numbers its limited edition accordingly. (Check out some of its other faces to see how the dials often create figure-eights.) In the case of the Ivory Enamel version the release is limited to 88.