In the upper echelons of haute horlogerie, many designs are as much works of miniature sculpture as they are functional timepieces. Perhaps no other brand exemplifies this extravagant three-dimensional design philosophy more thoroughly than Jacob & Co., especially through its opulent Astronomia series. The Astronomia has incorporated everything from multi-axis tourbillons to stylized orreries over the years, and for its latest exploration of the concept Jacob & Co. adds a somewhat more familiar complication – a world timer, along with an intricate carillon chime minute repeater. The new limited edition Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime presents one of the brand’s most spectacular visual and auditory concepts to date, further evolving the line with new techniques and intricate new finishes.
Like previous models in the series, the 18K rose gold skeleton case of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime is designed to showcase as much of the intricate workings of the movement as possible. To this end, the massive 50mm-wide, 26mm-thick frame is laid out primarily as a cylindrical sapphire box with a gold structural chassis. While the proportions and materials at play make the case a visual spectacle of its own, the visual focus is kept squarely on the movement and dial in initial images. Despite the hefty proportions, the actual lines of the case are simple and elemental, with clean vertical case sides and sharply sloping curved skeleton lugs. To maintain this clean high-visibility look, the Astronomia does not have a traditional crown, with winding and setting functions moved to the solid caseback. Jacob & Co. rates the Astronomia Maestro Worldtime for a dismal 10 meters of water resistance, but given the crystal box construction and delicate rose gold chassis, this is to be expected.
Strictly speaking, the skeleton dial of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime takes up only a small portion of the visual space beneath the domed sapphire crystal. Where previous generations of the Astronomia placed the main timekeeping dial on one of the movement’s signature stacked orbiting arms, here the dial is front and center at the top of the central stack for easier reading. In terms of styling, this domed skeleton dial is an intriguing mix of classical and futuristic cues in images, contrasting traditional blued blunted alpha hands and a matching engraved chemin-de-fer minutes track with engraved Arabic numerals on blocky applied blued indices, and an intricate enameled globe motif that emphasizes the domed form of the design. Other Astronomia staples return here for the revolving complication arms, each orbiting around the central vertical gear train once every 10 minutes. The first of these is the brand’s signature Jacob Cut 1-carat spherical diamond, rotating on its axis once every 90 seconds to allow each of its 288 individual facets to catch the light. The second returning element is the triple-axis tourbillon, with its stylized cage incorporating the Jacob & Co. emblem in rose gold. Impressively, Jacob & Co. claims that these two elements, placed across from each other on the orbiting assembly, are perfect counterweights to one another to minimize stress across the movement. As spectacular as both of these elements are, however, the real focal point of the design in images is the new orbiting world timer complication. This oversized painted rose gold globe rotates on its axis once every 24 hours, indicating the time across each of the 24 time zones via the fixed set of indicators at the south pole. To counterweight this new signature complication, Jacob & Co. fits a highly detailed orbiting astronaut figure in hand-painted German silver. In addition to orbiting the central dial with the rest of the complications, this whimsical addition spins on its own axis every 90 seconds to give this dynamic display even more motion. Jacob & Co. completes this space scene with a hand-painted aventurine plate atop the movement bridges, depicting the Milky Way and multiple ornately detailed planets above a glittering black backdrop.
The manufacture JCFM11A handwound minute repeater tourbillon movement inside the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime is as much a piece of kinetic sculpture as it is a functional mechanism, but offers an impressive level of movement performance. Outside of the previously mentioned embellishments, the minute repeater complication is a prime example of the brand’s approach to highly decorative complication work, with a trio of long curving carillon gongs wrapping around the movement and interacting with a trio of stacked hammers that have been hand-calibrated for clarity and tone. Considering the complexity and weight of the brand’s torque-hungry orbiting concept, the JCMF11A’s power reserve performance is robust, with a 50 hour reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. To complete the look, Jacob & Co. pairs the Astronomia Maestro Worldtime with a classic navy blue alligator leather strap featuring an 18K rose gold deployant clasp.
Although its over-the-top approach to complications may not suit every taste, as a piece of sheer watchmaking spectacle the limited edition Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime is a formidable ultra-luxury contender. Only 18 examples of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Maestro Worldtime will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $780,000. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.