|Reference||ES101.20.NS.LH.A. Limited edition of 101 pieces|
|Case||Grade 5 titanium. 45mm|
|Dial||Digital and vertical GMT display, anthracite opaline dial, applied roman numerals coated with white super-luminova, engraved centre dial, seconds at 10 o’clock.|
|Movement||Self-winding inhouse movement JCAA02|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 30m / 100 ft|
|Power Reserve||48 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, instantaneous 24 hour world time indication|
|Bracelet||Alligator, grade 5 titanium deployment buckle|
Call me old fashioned but, historically, I had never really taken much notice of Jacob & Co as a watchmaker. When its founder, Jacob Arabo, first started making watches in 2002, having been running his own jewellery business since 1986, I saw them as somewhat ostentatiously dressy items, epitomised by his iconic diamond encrusted quartz powered five time zone piece that became the must-have piece for any self-respecting footballer and rapper in the early 2000’s.
It was when his maison released the Astronomia however that I really started to take notice. Here was a watch that, for me, finally integrated all that world class jewellery knowhow into something akin to horological magic. Never before had I seen a watch have so many intricacies, facets and . . . life.
So when I saw one for the first time, the Astronomia Sky Black Gold at Asprey’s on Bond Street, I had to take a closer look. Unfortunately, at the time, I was there as part of a Gumball 3000 event and so could hardly disappear into the vault to start pouring over a £500,000 watch. Instead I spoke to one of their assistants and told them I’d be back when I had more time.
Returning to take a closer look at this grail piece and walking into the store, they immediately recognised me and . . . apologetically told me the Astronomia had been sold. I was understandably disappointed.
Still, it got me thinking – now that I knew they were a Jacob & Co retailer, I should investigate what else they had in stock. That day they had two versions of the Epic X, including the Epic X Chronograph in rose gold, both of which I appreciated as beautiful watches (albeit not to my taste), but it was the Epic SF24 that immediately caught my eye.
The SF stands for ‘split flap’, which is the name given to mechanical information boards seen in train stations and airports. Referring to this, the top of the watch contains a barrel with, to the left, the names of 24 cities from around the world on individual flaps. To the right is the hour, also on individual flaps. This creates an ingenious two time zone piece and it genuinely made me feel nostalgic when I saw it; reminding me of a time before mobile phones were common place and you were lucky if you received Channel 5 through your TV aerial without having to wiggle it first.
At the end of the barrel is a black rubber pusher and it is when depressing this, which it does with a lovely old fashioned snick (you can actually feel, see and hear the mechanism working), that the city and hour changes.
Below this trickery is an elegantly clean black dial, with a sub dial indicating the seconds. I could feel something happen to me when I put it on. Whilst the Astronomia was the one that made me give Jacob & Co my attention, all of sudden this was the one really talking to me. In my eyes it had struck just the right balance of imagination, watch making prowess and high-end jewellery finishing. I finally started to understand why people have been going so crazy for these pieces.
Given it’s made of titanium, the SF24 is incredibly light and very comfortable to wear, whilst the deployment clasp is nicely concealed and executed.
To add to its complication and execution, the SF24 is somewhat versatile. It has considerable wrist presence and yet because of its shape, can still sneak under a generous shirt cuff, meaning it can be worn with a suit. It really excels itself when worn as part of a smart casual or casual outfit though and, if you take this watch out into the sunshine, the grade 5 titanium really gleams.
However, the one part of the watch I was not blow away by was the movement. Yes, it was nicely finished (as it should be given it bears the Côtes de Genève), but it didn’t pull me in for a closer look like others in the rarefied air of haute horology do. Is that something to complain about, particularly at this price point? Most certainly.
But whether you share my reservations over the aesthetically ordinary movement or not, the place Jacob & Co now has in watchmaking is undeniable. In recent times the maison has slowly started to combine all its knowledge to create pieces that not only have an uncanny individuality but integrity too. They have come a long way since 2002 and, on this evidence, will take some stopping.
The Jacob & Co Epic SF24 retails for £62,000 including VAT. These pieces can suffer depreciation, so keep a keen eye on the secondary market if you are keen on one from this sector.