Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

New & Noteworthy: The Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

With your phone, you have the world at your actual fingertips, access to almost all of mankind’s knowledge. Whether you want to use it to plan a trip to Turks and Caicos, find a dairy-free lasagna recipe, or buy a car, it’s all there. What’s also on your phone is a clock—always right there, whether your phone is locked or the screen is active while you figure out which Tesla is best suited for your cross-country trip with your pet turtle (it’s the Model Y). Watches are becoming obsolete, whether we like it or not (we don’t). That’s why it’s exciting to see watchmakers push the boundaries of what a wristwatch can be and that’s why it’s exciting to see the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Solar, which ups the ante on your phone putting the world at your fingertips by putting the solar system on your wrist.

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

History

Jacob & Co. has always been known for its extravagant designs, but prior to releasing the Astronomia Tourbillon in 2014, it had been known for haute joaillerie timepieces more than anything else. Releasing something as visually stunning and mechanically complex as the Astronomia forced the watch world to reconsider the brand, and quickly accept it as a major player in the upper echelons of watches. At BaselWorld 2014 when it was released, many considered it one of the best watches of the show. It’s no wonder, then, that the brand has continued to iterate upon the model, with nine different models (including a table clock) now available. The Jacob & Co. Astronomia Solar came along in 2017, with several meaningful changes to the original. 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Design Details

Limited to 101 pieces, The Jacob & Co. Astronomia is perhaps as much defined by its dial as it is by its case. Truth be told, the 44.5mm wide, 21mm tall case really only serves to showcase the dial: with a massive domed sapphire crystal and a single-piece sapphire caseband, the owner can always see the dial’s rotating masterpiece at work, whatever the angle. The 18k rose gold portion is really a supportive frame, more than anything else. It features a polished finish throughout as it forms the outline of a traditional case with curved lugs. The screwed-down caseback is solid rose gold as well, and since there’s no room for the crown elsewhere, Jacob & Co. have found a solution here. Much like old Bulova Accutrons and JLC Futurematics, the Astronomia Solar is wound and set using caseback tabs which flip up, one for each function. The brushed caseback is affixed with two plates that have the brand and model names embossed. As you might expect of such a showstopper, it has just 30m water resistance. The watch is fitted with a blue alligator leather strap with a branded rose gold pin buckle and quick-release tabs. 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

But you don’t really care about the case, because this watch is all about the dial. This dial makes the original Astronomia Tourbillon look like a white picket fence—sure it’s lovely, but so what, look at my gilt 15-foot wrought iron defense wall adorned with gems! The Jacob & Co. Astronomia pulls no punches; it is a glistening representation of the solar system, albeit an incomplete and imperfect one. It is not an exact replica in appearance or function of our solar system, as it’s missing a few planets and the ones that are there rotate with a single disc, not independently according to their orbital period. That’s not the point though; the point is to create a dramatic, dimensional, sparkling spacescape, and that has been achieved. So what do we have on the dial? Let’s take a closer look.

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Everything is underpinned by a resplendent aventurine base, which sparkles as the light hits it, giving the illusion of a starry night. A separate disc, also made from aventurine, carries seven celestial orbs represented by cabochon-cut precious stones in half spheres: white granite for Mercury, rhodonite for Venus, red jasper for Mars, pietersite for Jupiter, tigers eye for Saturn (with 18K Rose Gold applique for the rings), blue calcite for Uranus, and lapis lazuli for Neptune. This ring makes one counterclockwise rotation every 10 minutes.

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
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Moving in and up (then out), one sees the exposed gearing of the movement, which rises to the dial’s three-arm rotating platform, which completes a clockwise rotation every ten minutes. At the center of the axis is a 1.5ct. Jacob-cut citrine stone Sun with 288 facets. The Earth is magnesium with blue lacquer and rose gold and spins rose gold and blue lacquer and spins once every 60 seconds. Just as spectacular is the one-minute flying tourbillon with its Jacob & Co. logo bridge. If you care to tell the time with such a piece of art on your wrist, you’re in for a treat, and perhaps the most mechanically impressive feat of the watch. Attached to a third arm is a skeletonized titanium dial with rose gold plating and lacquer roman numerals and a blued handset. 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Inner Workings

With much of the gearing of the movement exposed for the wearer to see, there is little hidden and not much left to the imagination. Like with MB&F or the dimensional pieces of Christophe Claret, in a way, the movement is the dial. The Jacob & Co. Manual Winding JCAM19 was developed with Luca Soprano, of watch design house Studio 7h38, who also helped design the watch. Featuring a titanium construction, it is made up of 447 components including 47 jewels. As mentioned, it features a one-minute flying tourbillon and operates at 28,800 vph with a power reserve of 48 hours. 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Versus the Competition

As a showstopper, it’s only right to compare the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Solar to other showstoppers. Let’s start with something that’s relatively staid in comparison: the Rolex Daytona “Eye of the Tiger.” Unlike the Astronomia Solar, this is an extravagant take on Rolex’ rather run-of-the-mill chronograph. While impressive and flashy, it only has one crystal and totally lacks celestial orbs. I’d describe this as a great entry piece for the collector who wants to start standing out but doesn’t have the confidence to go all the way. (Check out our in-depth look at this model here.)

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

When speaking of movements as dials, we can’t leave Greubel Forsey out. The brand is the undisputed champion of showing off its movements on the dial side. The Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° Technique is an excellent example of the brand’s unrivaled engineering and craftsmanship. While it may lack the sparkling, dazzling astral display, it does have an impressive tourbillon and enough dimensionality to give you vertigo. (We did a deep dive on this one, which you can read here.)

Finally, let’s talk about an option from the king of overengineered, chunky watches: Richard Mille. The Richard Mille RM 032 is a rose gold behemoth built to withstand a blast from a rose gold, jewel-encrusted tank. While the Astronomia Solar may show us a fancy version of the solar system, The Richard Mille RM 032 has a good chance of surviving the end of the solar system. (You can read more about the RM 032 in our in-depth article.) 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Personality

The Jacob & Co. Astronomia Solar is more about showing off than it is about telling the time. It’s like wearing the Koh-i-Noor around your neck—you don’t do it because your outfit’s neckline calls for a tasteful pendant and you’re feeling grand, you do it because you can and you want people to know that you can. The Astronomia Solar takes a level of confidence that verges on cockiness and bravado, something that not everyone has. 

Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar
Jacob & Co Astronomia Solar

Final Thoughts

Whatever you may think of its size or the mere concept of its existence, there’s no denying the beauty of the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Solar. Its technical prowess and aesthetic grandeur put it in a league of its own, and having it on the wrist extends one’s reach beyond the knowledge of mankind and out into the solar system.

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