The Jacob & Co. Astronomia Casino, also known as the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Gambler, is another unique creation by Jacob & Co. conceived, designed and produced in a move towards their goal of dominating the field of absurd over-engineering Yet another, interesting, ultra-high-end watch — because such things do exist, and in fact have been for years.
Given that Harry Winston Opus watches dominated the mid-play naughty – widely and rightly considered the original source of haute horlogerie – creations that challenged the established limits of design and function – the early teens were all about Jaquet Droz Musical pieces, big brand complications with perpetual calendar, chronograph and striking mechanism. (A little basic research will make you realize how the value of these things from Audemars Piguet, IWC, Lange and others has fallen off a cliff, sometimes to 25% to 30% of the original retail price.) Why do I so? On the one hand, because I didn’t realize until recently that it was a common “serious complication” and not just a “disposable” lemon, and second, to show that there are so many people who can afford these things that are ready to hit their purchases (or even if they are not ready, they are forced,
Like it or not, the resale value of these once Holy Grail state watches is more than I can tell you about their current demand. Those who can burn six-figure sums (in dollars) when buying a watch have turned to watches that have any one or more of the following: 1) novel, 2) interesting, 3) expressive, 4) unique, 5) Simple appreciation. As with watches, the more boxes you tick, the higher the price in general. Jacob & Co. Astronomia Casino goes to great lengths to tick all those boxes, and then some.
With its – no other words to describe it – absurd thickness of 27.9mm (i.e. an inch, then some!), it’s a watch that’s easy to admire up close…and the other side of the dining table. It’s as discreet as a 1940s Francis Bacon pinned to your head while sitting at dinner, like a sail. Its weight is verified by the multi-layered, multipurpose JCAM29A movement, which includes the Astronomia “vertical movement” with its rotating platform consisting of four rotating arms and a fully functional, fully mechanical roulette complication beneath it .
First, a few words about astronomy. Although Jacob & Co. created many distinct variants of this movement, it is still excellent in terms of its construction and function. Powered by a single mainspring with an impressive power reserve of 60 hours (maybe longer or shorter depending on model variations and added complexity), essentially apart from the mainspring barrel and winding and setting “bow” Each component of the (crown replacement caseback) plays a role in this four-arm assembly.
Four arms with a double axis tourbillon (which I’ll explain shortly as a triple axis tourbillon), a blue magnesium miniature planet Earth, a 1 carat, 288 faceted Jacob cut diamond, which also goes around it Self-rotating shaft, and differential drive sub-dial for the time. These four arms rotate simultaneously on the face of the watch in less than 10 minutes – it is this rotation that adds a third 10-minute axis to the tourbillon.
The time display rotates with this assembly, so to prevent it from being upside down while running around the copy watch face, a differential is required. This allows the sub-dial to remain level, the hands to be driven, and the entire assembly to rotate together.
The tourbillon and rotating diamonds may be impressive, but two of my favorite astronomical achievements are this differentially actuated time display, and the fact that each two opposing arms are perfectly balanced against each other. Here’s some cool “invisible engineering” to keep the movement from being overly strained by the overweight arm that pulls or pushes the precision-running train assembly.
The heart of this astronomy is, of course, its roulette complexity. Press the button at the 8 o’clock position of the case, the roulette wheel is forcibly rotated, and the small white ceramic balls fly. To prevent it from entering the movement, the entire roulette function is set under a piece of sapphire crystal. The functionality of this complication is reassuring every time the button is pressed, and the overall execution of its every detail is as spectacular as it’s damned.
The wheels are made of 18k rose gold with black and red enamel for its 36+1 pockets. As I said, the thickness is 27.9mm, while the case diameter is 47mm. Oddly enough, with the lugs being so short and angled sharply downward, overall wear resistance is another way Astronomia Casino plays with the senses. Seen directly from above, the overall effect is manageable—even on my narrow wrist, which is 6.75 inches in diameter. However, once I start laying the watch flat away from myself, it starts to show off its crazy case construction, topped by a generously curved sapphire crystal. Speaking of which, the strap is a single sapphire crystal strap that, when paired with the skeletonized lugs, provides an easy view of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia casino in action.
As shown here, it is a one-of-a-kind piece. It’s certainly far more fun to play than any traditional grand complication, and even if one isn’t a gambler, the way this movement is constructed is sure to appeal to watch lovers inside.