Jacob & Co. already has a roulette complication in its catalogue inside the Astronomia Casino, a variant of its signature watch. Now the jeweller has condensed the concept into the Casino Tourbillon, which does away with the orbital carousel to focus on the roulette automaton, although it still conceals a flying tourbillon on the back.
The Casino Tourbillon is very much a Jacob & Co. watch with its exuberant style and complication – but it is slightly more restrained in design than the brand’s usual offerings. While it’s far from a low-key watch with its 44 mm diameter and over-16mm height, it is modest for a Jacob & Co. watch.
The roulette complication is interesting and smartly executed, though not exactly new. It is essentially a more sophisticated version of the Franck Muller Las Vegas, which instead relied on a simple execution made up of a fixed wheelhead and freely-spinning pointer hand.
Priced at US$280,000, the Casino Tourbillon is pricey. Although the dial construction is complex, the roulette automaton is relatively straightforward, as is the flying tourbillon. It is, however, unique in today’s market. While casino-inspired complications were once popular (after the Franck Muller Las Vegas became a bestseller), they are uncommon today. So for the high roller who wants a novel casino-themed complication, this is probably it.
Game of chance
While Jacob & Co.’s watches are usually over the top, the Casino Tourbillon is relatively clean. The dial itself is simple, a disc of polished black onyx with applied hour markers that are rose gold, as are the hands.
Around the dial is the wheelhead, the disc of a roulette table that carries the numbers in coloured squares. When the roulette mechanism is activated – naturally this has to be done with the watch flat on a table due to gravity – the wheelhead spins freely before coming to a stop at a “random” number.
Although relatively simple in design, the dial of the Casino Tourbillon is complex and multi-layered, a necessity due to the free-rolling ceramic ball inside. The ball doesn’t actually sit on the dial, but in between two sapphire plates. The plates sit just below the dial and just above the wheelhead, allowing the ball to travel freely around the dial without interfering with any of the moving components.
The roulette automaton is activated by a pusher at eight o’clock. Though Jacob & Co. doesn’t reveal the nature of the automaton, it is presumably powered by a mechanism similar to that for a minute repeater: pushing the button winds up a tiny secondary mainspring that releases instantaneously, creating the energy needed to spin the wheelhead.
As for the “random” nature of the wheelhead’s rotation, it is actually a long sequence of non-consecutive numbers – which is the the result of specific gearing – resulting in the appearance of randomness.
Just like the Astronomia, the Casino Tourbillon has no conventional crown. Instead, winding and setting are each accomplished via crowns on the back that take the form of pull-out tabs.
Also on the back is the flying tourbillon. While the tourbillon is conventional in mechanical terms, its carriage is unusual for having the brand name in relief squares filled with coloured lacquer to echo a roulette wheel.
Key facts and price
Jacob & Co. Casino Tourbillion
Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 16.3 mm
Material: 18k rose gold
Water-resistance: 30 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, roulette mechanism activated by pusher, and one-minute flying tourbillon
Winding: Hand wind
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours
Strap: Alligator with folding clasp
Limited edition: 101 pieces
Availability: From Jacob & Co. boutiques and retailers
Price: US$280,000 before taxes
For more information, visit Jacobandco.com.