La Montre de Poche Email Ivoire means, more or less, “Pocket Watch with Ivory Enamel,” and of all the timepieces replica Jaquet Droz makes, this is perhaps the most traditional in both appearance and construction. It’s a pocket watch whose design is based on the Grande Seconde pocket watch created by Pierre Jacquet-Droz in around 1790, and the movement inside is as much a part of the fascination of this watch as the design.
Pocket watches are indisputably archaic, but they have a charm that no wristwatch can claim to have. As you probably know, the wristwatch is a relative newcomer in horology. The very first watches evolved from portable table clocks, sometime around the early 16th century, and in fact, they weren’t pocket watches at all, technically speaking, because people weren’t wearing clothes with pockets in the 1500s. Portable watches would have been worn on a ribbon or chain around the neck, or carried in a pouch attached to one’s belt. As the early very thick drum or round watches flattened out they gradually migrated into pockets, and there they stayed for centuries: symbols of discretion, permanence, and the mark of an individual for whom ownership of a watch meant, in some sense, not just a place of importance in the world, but ownership of time itself.
The main issue nowadays with pocket watches – which still offer all the pleasure of a somewhat private experience of time that they ever did – is that pocket watches are most easily worn in a waistcoat (vest) pocket, and in general, people don’t wear three-piece suits, or vests as separate articles of attire, terribly often. Still, though, a really well made pocket watch like this one is a very strong tangible link to a far older tradition than that specifically connected to the wristwatch, and the more you study the deeper history of watchmaking, the more you may be inclined to see a cheap fake pocket watch as, somehow, a more real watch than a wristwatch.
We mentioned that one of the more interesting features of this particular watch is the movement. The movement is JD 2615, and seen through the case back, it’s a lovely, very classic, full-bridge hand wound movement of what appears to be very flat construction.
Caliber 2615 has a long and very distinguished past. It appears to be based on a pocket watch movement originally made by F. Piguet (which was acquired by the Swatch Group and is now called Manufacture Blancpain) as the Piguet caliber 15. Caliber 15 is a bona-fide ultra thin, hand-wound pocket watch movement, and it’s been used as the basis for a number of watches – in general, pretty low to very low production timepieces, as you might expect – from several brands, including Blancpain itself, Breguet (reference 5697, as seen here) and even (in a very meticulously openworked watch) Vacheron Constantin.
Above is an example of an earlier use of this movement, from 2012: the Blancpain “Mouvement Inversé” in which an adaptation of the Caliber 15 was used in a wristwatch. This movement is notable for several reasons, but one is its slimness – the movement is a little over 15 lignes in diameter at 35.64 mm, and it is extremely flat: only 1.9 mm.
La Montre de Poche Email Ivoire is actually a bit thicker than you might expect, given the movement, but it’s not excessively so, at 12.07 mm (case diameter is 50 mm). I suspect that at least in part, the additional thickness has to do with the layout of the hands; the caliber 15 is a traditional layout, with the hands driven from the center wheel (at the center of the movement) and the seconds hand mounted on the fourth wheel pinion of the going train. A side-by-side comparison of front and back looks as if the axis of the hour and minute hand, in the pocket watch, is not co-axial with the center wheel pivot, so it’s possible some of the extra height is due to additional motion works to allow those two hands to be re-positioned (and making an extremely flat watch may not have been the primary design priority, as well).
However the design objectives may have been articulated internally, the result is something that really shows Jaquet Droz’s design philosophy at its best. The size of the watch allows the presence of enough richly, subtly textured grand feu enamel to underscore the overall fineness of the work, as well as the intelligent use of negative space at which luxury fake Jaquet Droz excels. Sure, this is a watch for a pretty narrow slice of watch-buying public. It is also, I think, a great example of what you can get if you have the strength of your convictions and know you don’t have to play to the groundlings going in – you get something that, so to speak, knows its own mind. The spectral beauty of this pocket watch is the result of trusting simplicity and good taste to guide design without compromise, and having to invest in a few waistcoats is a small price to pay for having a little masterpiece like the Montre de Poche Email Ivoire next to your heart.
La Montre de Poche Email Ivoire is presented in yellow gold, with yellow gold chain and hands. Dial, grand feu enamel. Movement, cheap replica Jaquet Droz caliber 2615, hand-wound, 40 hour power reserve, with large seconds. Series number engraved on the case back. Case 12.07 mm x 50 mm. Price, $27,300.