In 2014, Jacob & Co. best is back with an amazing timepiece sure to impress everyone from traditional watch lovers to the general public. Watching the video of the new astronomical tourbillon below, it’s easy to see why “wow” is the quintessential response to this complex and very interesting horological creation. When and if Astronomia will actually be produced is another question, but even if the timepiece is still a digital video, I’d be happy to create a pure concept.
The whole point of the Astronomia will give you the “four-arm” movement, it has a dial of the day (when the entire movement is rotated around its axis, it twists to keep it upright), the tourbillon (technically it’s at 2 pivot points), a rotating seconds indicator, and a rotating sphere inversion seconds indicator. Astronomia Sky more or less retains this performance (though designed and executed differently) and adds some astronomical complexity. Looking around the periphery of the dial through the face of the scene, you’ll see a small hand that follows with a 12-month scale that completely surrounds the face. Now, look at the center of this four-armed kinematic structure, and above it you’ll find a small sphere that looks like the Earth. This Earth sphere has a hemispherical shield that surrounds it to act as a day/night indicator. There are only two pivot points to note here, they are the 24-hour rotation of the day and night index and the fact that the earth rotates every 20 minutes, because that is the rotation time of the four-armed motion. The little “world” itself is made of titanium and then passes through Hand lacquered and engraved. The flow of this watch under motion is a celestial star chart with a zodiac indicator on it. The face is made of blued titanium (similar to the De Bethune watches we’ve long loved) and has an oval “sky indicator” hand. The entire dial actually rotates once a year,
Jacob & Co. was one of the first watch makers to understand the power of the “crazy watch”, a mechanical watch with epic complications simply meant to be stunning in a way similar to the tone and content of many rap music videos and impress. These are designed to be “ultra-luxury lifestyle” watches for those who buy a new yacht when they’re bored and browse eBay on their phone while waiting for their personal banker to leave the toilet of the yacht they’re currently sitting on. The only thing a watch like this makes sense, it should be more impressive than most other watches the wealthy can afford.
Nothing I said was mean or sarcastic. That’s really a rather small target demographic for a timepiece like this. We’re talking about that new money, a lot of new money. This type of consumer is interested in showing off their wealth because they sometimes don’t have the ability to spend it. Having said that, a piece like the astronomical tourbillon does carry an air of refined sophistication, as it has a high horological pedigree. While Jacob & Co. luxury may have a “diversified” customer base representing people you would and would not want to dine with, they certainly have the ability to get things done when they’re at it all.
Apart from videos and pictures, there is currently very little information on the astronomical tourbillon, and Jacob & Co. has prepared us well for the “launch” of this piece at Baselworld 2014. We hope to see it in person there or eventually. Sometimes a watch like this first debuts as a computer rendering, only to be actually released a few years later, because the time it takes to make a working movement can take much longer. This may be the case, as the astronomical tourbillon movement seems ambitious. While the watch itself isn’t astronomical complications, it’s themed around them. At the center of the watch is the “sun”, which is surrounded by four orbiting objects.
These items include a time dial (which remains upright in all positions as it moves around the main dial), a rotating representation of the Earth, a rotating spherical crystal (probably a diamond), and finally, an impressive Double-Axis Tourbillon. It’s all based on a beautiful planetary gear arrangement that any engineering student (or watchmaker) would be proud of as a semester project.
It’s unclear if the spinning Earth is in line with the Earth’s 24-hour cycle and can be clearly used to indicate anything. It doesn’t even matter because its simple action looks fun. The dial at the time was probably the most impressive to me, as its visual presentation was both clear and distinctly complex.
Jacob & Co. presents the astronomical tourbillon in a large diameter 18k rose gold case, the bezel and crystal are made from a single piece of sapphire crystal. This allows a full view of the watch face from all angles. Also note that there is no crown, which means it’s either on the top of the watch, or more likely somewhere on the back. The mechanical movement itself is designed to represent only a small part of the dial to make the case more spacious and feel like the four “planets” have plenty of room to move. It is most likely hand-wound.
As a pure sport of horological decadence, the Astronomia Tourbillon is certainly a very interesting watch, and its production cost and final retail price may be just as awesome. We at love this stuff because it makes owning a simple timepiece a lot more fun. We can look at our basic “classic” watch and imagine that somewhere, someone might be wearing an astronomical tourbillon and reading it at the exact same time of day, but with more flamboyance.