Wrist Architecture: Jean Dunand Palace Watch

The Industrial Revolution brought with it new promise in technology as well as art. The public’s intense desire for novelty and progress spurred new aesthetic styles and a prompted a new wave of artistic imagination the likes of which were never seen before. Futurism was in, and the result of that epic historic movement is felt today in the heritage and lasting effect of Art Deco and its predecessor, Art Nouveau. The high luxury watch brand Jean Dunand is founded on these concepts, in dedication of the man Jean Dunand, who was an accomplished Swiss Art Deco designer and artist in the early 20th Century.

Known for making “piece uniques,” Jean Dunand often produces just one example of each specific watch model in its collection, with no two being exactly the same. Their newest accomplishment is an incredible journey into watch making and the era of Art Deco industrialism. Called the “Palace,” the watch feels like an architectural structure more than a traditional timepiece. This is no accident, as Jean Dunand designers wanted the Palace to resemble the building and architectural aesthetics it was influenced by. A story from every angle, the Palace has bits of icons in it like Eiffel Tower, the Paris Exhibition from 1899, and classic Art Deco bridges from around the world. Even the watch crown feels inspired by Paris’ Great Ferris Wheel. A large timepiece at 48.2 mm by 49.9 mm, and 16.6 5mm thick, the Palace is available in various styles of gold and possibly platinum, with titanium elements included in the case as well. The front and back are capped with large sapphire crystals, and there are additional sapphire crystal windows on the sides of the case for a better view into the highly complex movement.

No one will deny that the Palace actually looks like an art deco palace, and inside, it bears an extremely complex and beautifully designed movement that makes the case look simple by comparison. Made by the extremely talented watch maker Christophe Claret, the Calibre CLA02CMP movement is the logical next step visually, for Claret after his own Dual Tow watch. A comparison of the two pieces reveals their similarity, but functionally they are different — save for each having a flying tourbillon escapement.

Claret likes to play with the concept of complexity and design, adding totally unnecessary, but aesthetically beautiful elements into his movements. The result is items that are of the most complex “artistic” mechanical items on the planet. The Palace features the time (via traditional hands in the center), a GMT hand on a revolving linear style hand, power reserve indicator (the manually wound movement has about 72 hours of power when fully wound), a 60 minute chronograph, and a tourbillon. The movement further features a miniature chain (looks like a tiny bicycle chain), that is used to transfer power when winding the watch. You can see this chain behind the sapphire disc dial of the chronograph minute counter below 12 o’clock. Claret and Jean Dunand designed the movement to have an array of interesting features to view, which is why the watch has so many transparent windows to look through. In fact, the watch comes with a loupe (single eye magnifying glass) for this purpose.

Aside from the GMT second time zone adjustment pusher on the case at 6 o’clock, all functions of the watch are operated via the crown. It has a built in mono-pusher that controls all functions of the chronograph. Despite the sophisticated design of the movement and the skeletonized dial, Jean Dunand designed the hands and indicators in red so as to preserve legibility rather than force the wearer to hunt for information on the dial. An artistic modern day relic, the Palace is an extremely rare object of luxury without equal — borne from some of the most talented minds in the watch industry. Production will be highly limited to just a few unique pieces. Each priced at about $417,000. www.jeandunand.com.

1. Large art deco architecture style case in gold and titanium
2. Linear GMT hand dial
3. Linear power reserve indicator dial
4. Flying tourbillon
5. 60 minute chronograph subsdial

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.