Trust Jacob & Co. to produce a six-figure gold watch depicting an oil pump. Fitted with two derricks, a system of pipes, an oil gauge and reservoir tank, this miniature recreation of an oil rig is so detailed that it is bound to win over the hearts of die-hard oil tycoons. Moreover, being a Jacob & Co. creation the showmanship is guaranteed with two derricks that can perform their pumping motions on demand. Even when the derricks are not activated, the animation on the dial continues thanks to the spectacle of the brand’s hallmark double-axis tourbillon. Let’s have a closer look at this Jacob & Co. Oil Pump Tourbillon Automaton.
Anyone familiar with the brand knows that Jacob Arabo, the maverick founder of Jacob & Co., is not an advocate of low-key, conservative luxury. Used to dealing with ultra-wealthy clients (oil barons included), his jewellery and watches pack an inimitable “wow factor”. Over the top for some, downright delightful for others, Jacob & Co’s creations never fail to impress. Let’s take a closer look at one of the most unusual watches in the brand’s repertoire that has the added bonus of pumping oil with a 100% environmentally friendly mechanical power source.
Derrick pumps, also known as pumpjacks, horseheads and rocking horses in oil language jargon, are used to extract oil mechanically from an underground well. Once a prevalent sight across Western Texas, the distinctive feature of a derrick pump is its large anvil-shaped head. Powered by a motor (running on oil, diesel or electricity), the head of the pump is attached to a polished rod that moves up and down inside the well to force the liquid to the surface.
This watch might replicate the rigging and action of an oil pump, but its power source is as green as they come. Just like Pierre Jaquet Droz’s revolutionary 18th-century automata that left kings and queens awestruck by their inexplicable magical movements, the derricks on the Oil Pump are powered by the traditional mechanical technology of an automaton – a self-operating machine that performs a predetermined sequence of motions. The pusher on the caseband at 2 o’clock not only activates the derricks on the dial, but it also charges the dedicated power reserve that sets them in motion – you can see it in the video above.
The largest of the two derricks in the foreground of the Oil Pump has a long rod attached to its head that pumps up and down inside the gold reservoir tank below, while a counterweight at the opposite end of the beam performs an anti-clockwise spin around the hours and minutes dial at 9 o’clock. The smaller derrick in the background performs a similar motion, although its counterweight moves in a clockwise motion.
Lay of the Land
This realistic miniature recreation of an oil rig is encapsulated in a 49.5mm rose gold and sapphire crystal case with a height of 20mm. To ensure none of the action is hidden, there are additional sapphire glass windows on the sides of the case and a small aperture on the caseback to admire the tourbillon. The rose gold caseback features two extractable bows to wind the watch and set the time, and there is a pusher on the side of the case to activate the automata and charge the power reserve.
Every element in this microcosmic rendition of an oil rig is connected, be it with miniature oil pipes, rods and even cogs. The background of the dial is a grey mesh grille with an aerated honeycomb pattern offering a glimpse of the mechanics. The hours and minutes are featured on an anthracite ring at 9 o’clock with gold Arabic numerals. If you look closely, you’ll see how two gold pipes, complete with silver joints and a red wheel to control the flow, meander behind the hours and minutes disc before disappearing into the movement. Representing the division between the structures on land and those located underground, the central platform on the dial sustains the derricks and an oil pressure gauge that doubles up as a power reserve indicator. The polished rod attached to the head of the derrick traverses the platform to penetrate a rose gold reservoir shaped like a barrel with the brand name and a red warning sign alerting to the presence of flammable material. The large aperture at 6 o’clock, that extends all the way to the caseback, is the stage for Jacob & Co’s. iconic double-axis tourbillon. Increasing the viewing pleasure twofold, the first tourbillon makes a full revolution in 60 seconds and the second in 2.5 minutes.
All the details, like the brightly polished rose gold pipes and the reservoir barrel or the brushed gold and bevelled edges of the derricks attest to the impressive level of craftsmanship of Jacob & Co.’s artisans.
Powering the action on the dial is the manual-winding calibre JCAM33. With 510 components, the movement beats at a frequency of 21,600vph and can store up to 60 hours of power reserve. Although parts of it can be glimpsed through the grille on the dial, most of the movement is hidden behind the rose gold caseback with its two extractable bows to wind and set the time. Naturally, the finishings are superlative with shot-blasted and black PVD-coated bridges and plates, circular graining on the barrels and hand-bevelled mirror-polished edges.
Like other Jacob & Co. watches, reactions are always extreme and not everybody will warm to the extravagance or horological fireworks on board. But that is precisely the point: these watches are not for everybody. They are expensive, extravagant, playful marvels designed to impress. And I am certainly impressed by how Jacob & Co. has injected life into a potentially unexciting theme like an oil rig. The remarkable details, the miniaturisation and above all the animation cannot fail to leave an impression. Although this is not the model I would choose for myself – the Astronomia Tourbillon Typhoon has my name on it – I know that many will succumb to the sheer spectacle and exquisitely rendered scenery of the Oil Pump.
The Jacob & Co. Oil Pump comes with a black alligator strap and 18k rose gold folding clasp. The retail price is USD 380,000. More information at Jacob & Co.