This week we feature an absolutely stunning piece from Jean Dunand, breathtaking in both its technical complexity and exceptional design. Created for true connoisseurs of haute horology, the suitably named Grande Complication is powered by a unique Christophe Claret creation, a manually wound movement that features an astonishing 12 complications in total and is constructed from 827 individual components.
Did we mention it looks utterly superb as well?
The Grand Complication
Traditionally speaking to qualify for the title of a true “grand complication” watch, the piece must give full expression to the three classical areas of horological complication: the repeater, the chronograph and the perpetual calendar. Jean Dunand has taken this foundation and further enhanced it by adding a tourbillon escapement and retrograde calendar indications to their list of requirements.
At the same time the brand has not forgotten that however complicated a watch, good timekeeping is its primary function. Therefore in a bid to further improve the accuracy of the timekeeping function master watchmaker Christophe Claret has introduced an isolation device that disconnects the chronograph split-seconds hand from the movement when it is stopped. Without this device, the stopped split seconds acts as a brake on the movement, affecting its performance.
A subtle improvement perhaps but an admirable one nonetheless.
Before we go on we think it’s also important to note that despite the exceptionally impressive list of complications it is fantastic to see that the dial remains relatively uncluttered and easy to read, often a criticism of high-end pieces with multiple complications. It is also refreshing to see that company has resisted the urge to expose the tourbillon in the dial, instead making it visible through the sapphire exhibition case-back.
Whilst we are certainly great admirers of the tourbillon complication, it seems that in recent times they have become far too prevalent in watch-making, often used it would seem simply to try and promote the brand’s credentials as a watch-maker (as we’ve previously discussed here). Jean Dunand is certainly not a brand that needs to do this, instead adopting a more subtle approach and allowing the exemplary quality to speak for itself.
Which it undeniably does, not only speaking to you but singing as well.
You see, as we mentioned before, the piece features what is considered by many to be the most technically challenging of all the great complications, the Minute-Repeater. Slide down the lever in the caseband and the cams, racks and hammers instantly spring to life to calculate and convey the time to the minute to you through a series of chimes. The hours are struck on the first gong, followed by the quarters on two gongs and ending with the minutes on the second gong.
Regular readers of The Watch Lounge will appreciate just how complex a task it is to synchronize and control this spring-driven engine, thus making this one of the highest tests of a watchmaker’s skill.
Shifting our focus to the dial now, the perpetual calendar complication accurately and easily informs the wearer of the date, day, month and four-year cycle. The clean presentation on the dial’s surface belies the highly complex assemblage of wheels, cams and levers operating in perfect unison beneath to compute the varying months of the calendar, not forgetting February 29 every four years.
To further enhance the wearer’s experience the added complications of retrograde indications for the date and the day simplify the calendar display. A mere glance is all that is required to observe how the month and the week are progressing. At the end of each, the hands fly back to Monday and the first of the month respectively, a glorious sight to behold no doubt.
In total Jean Dunand lists the 12 Complications as follows: Tourbillon; Minute-repeater; Chronograph; Split seconds; Minutes-counter; Perpetual calendar; Retrograde date x 2; Retrograde day x 2; Month; Leap-year.
As with all Jean Dunand timepieces, each Grande Complication is a unique piece.
The Final Word
What more can be said about this truly breathtaking timepiece? Somehow it manages to be extremely complex and technically brilliant whilst at the same time remaining elegantly understated and entirely wearable. Casual observers will appreciate its aesthetic beauty and stunning design whilst true connoisseurs will be simply enthralled by its mastery of traditional watch-making techniques.
Yet another masterpiece for Jean Dunand in our humble opinion, perhaps even the best yet?