Jacob & Co. tunes its Astronomia minute repeater

Because the minute repeater ranks among watchmaking’s elite complications, it’s usually presented in a proper, traditional form with minimal embellishments other than traditional finishes. Jacob & Co. has always been an extrovert among the few minute repeater watchmakers, but it took the opposite approach. Its latest Astronomia watch features a full display of gongs and hammers, as well as a three-axis tourbillon, a hemispherical constellation globe with two half-carat spherical diamonds, a global lacquer globe and a miniature astronaut orbiting the dial. player, locked in a 40-second spin. The busy 3D composition is layered within a curio cabinet-sized case, 50mm wide x 26mm thick, against a backdrop of stacked gears and aventurine rings, hand-painted with stars, planets and the Milky Way.

Jacob & Co.’s three-axis tourbillon Astronomia watch, first launched in 2014. Other pieces in the collection include the Astronomia Spider, Astronomia Casino, Astronomia Gambler, Astronomia Octopus and several Astronomia Solar watches with spherical stones representing planets. It was the first minute repeater in the line, and in typical Jacob & Co. style, it was a blockbuster in its class: a Carillon minute repeater with three gongs and hammers instead of the traditional two . The gongs are stacked vertically rather than next to each other at the case perimeter, which makes them more clearly visible through the sapphire case sides. Carillon chimes, 15 minutes and minutes, using the notes Do, Re and Mi. A safety feature prevents the watch from being wound when striking the time.

Jacob Arabo and Luca Soprana at the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon, sparkling little universes on their wrists

Jacob Arabo, founder of Jacob & Co., is known for his jewelry and diamond-encrusted fine jewelry watches. He is also known for being the first to mine the intersection between high luxury and pop culture, and while celebrity has been an adjunct to luxury marketing for as long as there have been celebrities, it was Jacob who really made luxury watches desirable. Cloth has featured pop music celebrities and their fans — as well as movie stars, supermodels and other major media personalities. However, in the past 10 years he has also entered the watch industry in a more technical way, making mechanical timepieces with unusual complications that are really different from what anyone else has made.

Jacob & Co.’s first major mechanical complication was the Quenttin Tourbillon, which set a record for the longest power reserve in a replica tourbillon watches at the time: 31 days. Subsequent complications included the SF24, a 24-time zone watch with a split-flap display for the second time zone, based on the information boards that were once ubiquitous in train stations and airports. However, his most notable release over the past few years has been the Astronomia Tourbillon.

The Astronomia Tourbillon debuted at Baselworld in 2013, and it was, to put it mildly, a sensation. The watch is huge: 50mm in diameter with a domed sapphire crystal 25mm high. Under the sky-like dome is a four-armed vehicle. One arm ends with a three-axis tourbillon, and opposite the tourbillon is the movement (which moves the hour and minute hands) and a skeletonized dial. The other two arms feature an enamelled globe representing the Earth and a 288-faceted 1-carat diamond representing the Moon. The idea is not to make an astronomically accurate representation of the orbits of the Earth or the Moon, but to create a visual display that evokes the same sense of wonder as looking up at the night sky. The background of the whole show is aventurine.

A detailed look at the Greubel Forsey Signature 1, an impeccable chronograph

Greubel Forsey replica went all out with its entry-level Signature 1, giving it an n-class movement in construction and finish.

Entry-level watches are all the rage right now, even among watchmakers like Greubel Forsey, a specialist in sophisticated and expensive tourbillon watches. Launched earlier this year at SIHH 2016, the Signature 1 is the entry-level Greubel Forsey. The Signature 1 doesn’t have any complications, it just shows the time, but the construction and finish are impeccable, as good as Greubel Forsey’s expensive timepieces.

The Signature 1 is hand-wound and displays hours, minutes and seconds. Despite its simplicity, the dial appears slightly complex in typical Greubel Forsey style. The time is displayed on an off-centre sub-dial, and the gold-plated wheels of the gear train are exposed.

One’s eye is immediately drawn to the large balance wheel, nearly 13mm in diameter, held in place by a long steel bridge. While the visuals of the watch are nothing special, the Signature 1 is quite handsome.

Even more impressive is the quality of the watch. The hand-finishing of the movement is excellent. Every component, even the tiniest and most inconspicuous, has been finished to a high degree. Take, for example, the blued steel hands, all of which have a mirror-polished, bowl-shaped countersunk center. The dial, although it looks ordinary, is actually a silver-plated solid gold disc. Even the edges of the dial are beveled and polished; the small cutout at seven o’clock to accommodate the balance wheel is a pleasing detail.

Another interesting detail is the escape wheel bridge, which is located below the balance bridge. While barely visible, it still has straight grain on the top and sides, polished bevels on all edges—and the chamfered edges of the heads of the screws that hold it in place.

Although small by replica Greubel Forsey standards, the Signature 1 is not a small watch. It is 41.4mm in diameter and just under 12mm thick. Even in stainless steel, it’s big enough to give it presence and weight. The case is also meticulously polished, with neatly brushed surfaces separated by polished bevels.

Conversely, the finish is more impressive because there’s more to see. Although uncomplicated, the movement is constructed to showcase most of the mechanics. The black-coated main board serves as a canvas, and the bridges are cut away to reveal the components below. On the top left is the barrel, topped by a striking serrated ratchet under the three-legged barrel bridge. The size and shape of the barrel bridge give it an architectural feel, a quality often found in Greubel Forsey movements.

The movement style is inspired by vintage pocket watch movements. All cleats have a smooth matte finish with wide polished bevels on the edges. Most bridges have a straight profile, although there are enough sharp inward angles between them to satisfy the grooming aficionado.

As expected, the spokes and rims of all gears are beveled, the jewels are set in gold sleeves, and the screws are neatly polished and chamfered.

The Signature 1 is the first in a series planned by the watchmakers of Greubel Forsey. Didier JG Cretin was the watchmaker responsible for conceiving the Signature 1, which is why his name is repeated twice on the front and back of the watch. The names of Mr. Greubel and Mr. Forsey are also repeated twice, perhaps unnecessarily.

The movement saves so little, it’s obvious. But can it be better?

Given the undeniable quality of the movement, the question seems a bit ungrateful. However, Signature 1 is still priced the same as a small apartment. Popular copy watch

One detail that could be improved – even though it’s been done perfectly – is the balance bridge. It is topped with an impeccable black finish, with wide polished bevels running along its length and admirably sharp corners on the pillars at each end. A more time-consuming trimming method is to round the profile of the bridge, as is done on the Patek Philippe ref. Take the 5101 10-Day Tourbillon as an example.

Then there is the question of compromise.

Greubel Forsey is known for its incredibly exotic tourbillon watches. Most Greubel Forsey watches are the best in their class, which is a convincing argument – they’re really that good.

On the other hand, the Signature 1 feels a bit of a compromise relative to other products made by Greubel Forsey. This is a problem Greubel Forsey created for himself by setting the bar so high. This problem is further compounded by the fact that alternatives to Signature 1, such as Voutilainen Vingt-8, are widely regarded as the best in their class.

The stainless steel Signature 1 is half the price of the second most expensive Greubel Forsey watch (tourbillon). Relative to the brand’s other offerings, the Signature 1 seems like a good deal, but it’s still hard to label this value for money.