Jean Daniel Nicolas
Two-Minute Tourbillon | rose gold
By Daniel Roth
This Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon represents the horological work of Daniel Roth for the last two decades. Since having left his eponymous brand, Roth has created tourbillons under the Jean Daniel Nicolas name, with only two to three pieces leaving his workshop every year. Displaying an impressive level of hand-finishing, this Two-Minute Tourbillon arguably represents the finest work to date of one of the great independent watchmakers of modern times.
Daniel Roth was born into a family with deep horological roots, with his grandfather and great-grandfather both working as watchmakers in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Following this path, he completed his technical apprenticeship in Nice, before fulfilling his ambition of moving to the Vallée de Joux, one of the world’s watchmaking epicentres. He joined Audemars Piguet at a young age, at a time where he was the only watchmaker who didn’t come from Le Brassus, the brand’s historic home.
Following seven years at Audemars Piguet, Roth was noticed by the Chaumet brothers, the then owners of Breguet. In the midst of the Quartz Crisis, they wanted to restore the brand to its former glory and were looking for a Master Watchmaker who could help. Inspired by the work of the pioneering watchmaker, Roth agreed to help resuscitate the manufacture, though only after going back to school to further study Breguet’s archives and techniques. Over fourteen years, he would help rebuild the brand, cementing the style, finishing and complications in wristwatch form.
In 1989, Daniel Roth decided to establish his own manufacture. One of the first truly independent watchmakers working under his own name, he created Breguet-inspired pieces, with a twist. He cemented aesthetic codes which are distinctively his own, from the double-ellipse case to the sharply executed pinstripe guilloché dials used on some of his models. Though his output was limited, it was plentiful in its diversity and inventiveness, from tourbillons to chronographs. Daniel Roth was one of the key brand names of independent watchmaking in the 1990s, alongside Franck Muller, Roger Dubuis and Francois-Paul Journe, among others. In 2000, the company was sold to Bulgari, with the watchmaker no longer being involved from that point onwards.
Under Jean Daniel Nicolas
Since leaving his eponymous brand, Roth has continued to produce watches, under the name of Jean Daniel Nicolas - a combination of his son’s name, his own and that of his wife. All three of them work together in producing a small handful of pieces, with his wife also trained as a watchmaker and his son apprenticing under his father. Under this new venture, Roth has narrowed his focus, on what matters the most to him. He only produces about two to three pieces a year, all of them displaying an impressive level of craft and hand-finished details.
For the last two decades, Roth has chosen to only produce a two-minute tourbillon, which he executes in two different case shapes. The complication is one that Roth holds particularly close to his heart, considering it was invented Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795. With a deep-seated respect for the watchmaker, having also been a guiding force behind resuscitating his name in modern times, the tourbillon feels like the truest manifestation of Roth's vision of watchmaking.
As is to be expected from Roth’s remarkably low production, the Two-Minute Tourbillon is assembled and finished entirely by hand, using traditional techniques. It combines classic details, such as the guilloché pattern and blued steel hands, with a contemporary aesthetic. Throughout Roth’s career, this combination of traditional and more daring design elements has become synonymous with the watchmaker.
The distinctive tourbillon architecture of the piece takes centre stage, with the oversized bat-shaped bridge displaying an impressive level of finishing. The top section is mirror polished, whilst the edges are bevelled and also mirror polished. This open tourbillon bridge allows for the seconds indication to remain unobstructed, with two hands attached to the tourbillon cage displaying the seconds on a fan-shaped display. The surface below this is mirror finished, creating the impression of greater depth to the movement.
The exterior section of the dial features a sharply executed Clous de Paris pattern in a silvery colour. This contrasts with the brushed surfaces of the sub-dial which sits at twelve o’clock, used to display the hours, minutes and power reserve. Roman numerals are printed in black ink, with blued steel hands offering a touch of colour. The “Jean Daniel Nicolas” name is displayed in the sub-dial at twelve o’clock, with the watch’s individual number subtly hand-engraved in an aperture at nine o’clock. The contrast between the guilloché pattern, the brushed sub-dial and the mirror-polished details creates a rich interplay of textures, which showcases the watchmaker’s skill.
On the reverse, the movement design appears considerably more spartan. The bridge is made out of German silver, displaying a subtle golden hue. Broad Geneva stripes cover the entirety of the bridge, with all of the text being engraved by hand. The small details make the movement finishing stand out, with the anglage on the bridge tapering towards sharp points around the ratchet wheels. The various exposed screws are also mirror polished, surrounded by a bevelled slope.
This Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon is powered by a hand-wound movement of Daniel Roth’s own design, which integrates twin barrels, 60 hours of power reserve and was adjusted to 5 positions. It is fitted with a tourbillon regulator beating at 18,000 bph, with the carriage making one rotation every two minutes.
This Jean Daniel Nicolas Two-Minute Tourbillon is accompanied by its outer box, wooden inner box, watch holder and Certificate of Origin. It also comes on one of our Zürich straps, alongside its original black alligator strap and a rose gold tang buckle.
Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.
To find out more about Daniel Roth, you can read our In Depth Guide on the watchmaker's work.
|Brand:||Jean Daniel Nicolas|
|Movement:||manual-winding hand-finished calibre|
|Functions:||tourbillon, hours, minutes, seconds|
power reserve, bat-shaped bridge, Clous de Paris guilloché dial, blue steel hands, display back
|Case:||39mm rose gold|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Strap:||Zürich strap, original black alligator strap, rose gold tang buckle|
|Box & papers:||outer box, wooden inner box, watch holder, Certificate of Origin|
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