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Hands-on – The Mind-Bogglingly Complex and Demonstrative Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Typhoon

hands-on-–-the-mind-bogglingly-complex-and-demonstrative-jacob-&-co.-astronomia-tourbillon-typhoon

Jacob & Co. is a force to be reckoned with in watchmaking. With some of the most extraordinary, extravagant and highly unconventional pieces on the market, Jacob & Co. watches are spectacular visually and mechanically. Nothing is too far-fetched at Jacob & Co. and the spectacle is guaranteed. If you thought the Astronomia Tourbillon was a marvel of time in motion, just wait until you see the Astronomia Typhoon as it blows in with full force and speeds up the action on board. Equipped with an on-demand animation, the central carousel and its four satellite arms complete four revolutions in 16 seconds. Let’s take a closer look at this head-spinning watch.

Unrivalled showmanship

Jacob Arabo is renowned for his keen sense of spectacle. A natural showman with a background in jewellery, the watchmaking arm of his company is famous for its effusive, unconventional, over-the-top watches. With models swathed from head-to-toe in precious gemstones and names like Millionaire and Caviar Tourbillon, Jacob Arabo is perfectly at home with his coterie of VIP clients. His watches are not for the demure or the faint of heart; they are watches for people who enjoy basking in the limelight.

Whatever your opinion might be on the aesthetics of Jacob & Co., the dazzling technicality of these creations cannot be denied. This year alone, four Jacob & Co. models were finalists at the Grand Prix Horlogerie de Genève. Jacob & Co. is a unique and fearless force on the market ready to push the complications envelope further with every new creation. And for this reason alone, Jacob Arabo must be applauded. You might not warm to the extravagance or prices, but the courage and determination to prove that watchmaking can be outrageously dynamic have led to some of the most fantasy-fuelled watches on the market.

The Astronomia Tourbillon was introduced in 2014. With its kinetic 3-D movement and vertically mounted tourbillon, the Astronomia is a spellbinding microcosm with four rotating satellite arms.  Although the background scenery and the decorative top stone might vary, the standard configuration is of a vertical tourbillon rotating on triple axes, a large 1-carat Jacob diamond rotating on itself every 60 seconds, a lacquered globe representing the Earth rotating on itself in 60 seconds, and dial for the hours and minutes. We’ve covered many Astronomia models on MONOCHROME including the first Astronomia Tourbillon of 2014, the incredible Astronomia Tourbillon Clarity with an octopus on board, the artistic Astronomia Phoenix complete with a miniature gold sculpture of a phoenix, the Astronomia Casino with a fully operational roulette wheel, and the ‘sportier’ Astronomia Everest designed for Swedish explorer Johan Ernst Nilson on his expedition to the Himalayas (!).

breaking the speed limit

Apart from the different background scenery of the Astronomia Tourbillon, Jacob & Co. has also played with the speed of the different rotations. In 2017, the satellite arms were sped up to rotate in 10 minutes, and the globe and diamond every 30 seconds. Earlier this year, the brand launched the Astronomia Five Minute with the satellite arms rotating in five minutes and the globe and diamond turning in 15 seconds. Not satisfied with this speed, Jacob & Co. has pushed the speed limit even further on the Astronomia Typhoon. Now the four satellite arms can make one revolution every four seconds, on demand. By activating the Typhoon function via a wheel at 9 o’clock, the central structure completes four complete rotations in 16 seconds. By disengaging the movement from the satellites, the Typhoon function sets them free to spin.

The most amazing aspect of the Typhoon function is not just the increase in speed but the fact that the entire central unit returns to the exact point of departure and the timekeeping functions are not affected. The key to the fast revolutions is to separate the four satellite arms from the 617-piece movement, ensuring they move independently of the timekeeping. The tourbillon and the time display disengage from the base movement while they spin and reconnect when they stop spinning without interfering with timekeeping. It took Jacob & Co’s. watchmakers more than a year to pull off this impressive technical feat.

Galactic scenery

Like other Astronomia Tourbillon models, the large 50mm case features four sapphire glass apertures on the sides to enjoy the spectacle from different angles. The supporting structure of the case is made from 18k rose gold. Combined with the highly domed sapphire crystal over the dial, the thickest point of the watch is 25mm. It’s thick all right, but with all the action on deck, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

The base dial of the watch is made from aventurine and hand-painted with a representation of our speckled Milky Way. It is set with seven (static) cabochon-cut planets made from semi-precious stones: white granite is used to represent Mercury; rhodonite for Venus; red jasper for Mars; pietersite for Jupiter; tiger eye for Saturn; blue calcite for Uranus; and lapis lazuli for Neptune.

Triple-axis tourbillon and time sub-dial

The kinetic module with its four satellite arms is equipped with the signature triple-axis vertically mounted tourbillon, the feature that gave the Astronomia Tourbillon its name and fame. The openworked cage means that you can get glimpses of the balance wheel, the hairspring and the escape wheel as it performs its triple rotations: the first axis completes a full rotation every 60 seconds, the rotation of the second axis occurs every 2.5 minutes while the third axis slows down the rotations to 10 minutes.

Opposite to the tourbillon is the openworked hour and minutes sub-dial. Driven through an infinitesimal differential system that maintains the dial in an upright position, you can see four hand-engraved Roman numerals filled with black lacquer at XII, III, VI and IX and the blued hands.

Jacob-cut diamond and Magnesium globe

The impressive diamond at the tip of one of the four rotating arms is a Jacob-cut diamond completing its rotation in 30 seconds. As you know, Jacob & Co. also creates magnificent high jewellery timepieces and cutting precious stones is second nature to Jacob Arabo.  A Jacob-cut stone has 288 individual, hand-cut facets and has to be perfectly round and symmetrical. It takes a professional gem-cutter at least two weeks to whittle down the diamond – more than half of the rough diamond is cut away – and create the individual facets. No inclusions are permitted inside the diamond, and the stone has to weigh exactly the same as the three other satellites.

At the opposite end of the diamond is a blue globe representing Earth. Made from blue-lacquered magnesium with the continents represented in white gold, it rotates on itself in 30 seconds. The cherry on top of this extraordinary mechanical carousel is a spectacular 2-carat yellow sapphire.

To complete the package, the watch is presented on a blue alligator strap with an 18k rose gold folding buckle.

The caseback

The reverse side of the Astronomia Tourbillon Typhoon features the classic flip-up key on the left to set the time. Unlike other Astronomia models, the movement is not wound with a flip-up key but with the wheel in the caseback that also activates the Typhoon function. The 617-part movement is manual-winding (JCAM35) regulated by a triple-axis tourbillon.  It beats at 21,600vph and offers a 60-hour power reserve.

Thoughts

This is a mind-bogglingly complex watch with enough theatrics on the dial to entertain a stadium of onlookers. It is, like all Jacob & Co. watches, an ostentatious display of technicality and aesthetics, but I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun!  I love the galactic theme and would probably never tire of activating the Typhoon function and watching everything speed up on the dial, but it’s going to have to wait until my next reincarnation as Jeff Bezos.

Availability and price

The Astronomia Tourbillon Typhoon is limited to 18 pieces, and the retail price is USD 600,000. More information at Jacob & Co.

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