© September 2004 ThePuristS.com
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a. 1. Having the highest rank or jurisdiction; superior to all others; chief; supreme
n. 1. The highest or chief.
"JEANRICHARD is free and proves it.
These very first lines in JeanRichard´s presentation of the new Paramount and calibre JR 1000 make a bold statement, as does the name chosen for this model. JeanRichard is a young brand and the recent change of the brand´s name from "Daniel JeanRichard" to "JeanRichard" may indicate new developments, as does another remarkable creation: the 2002 "Grand Tourbillon", a tourbillon movement in a "TV Screen" case- an indication of ambitious plans.
Does the new "Paramount" reach the summit, as the name promises?
A closer look at JeanRichard, the watch and the movement may give the answer.
JeanRichard and the SOWIND group
JeanRichard is part of the SOWIND group, privately owned by Dr. Luigi "Gino" Macaluso, which is the umbrella for one of the last independent Swiss watch manufacturies, Girard-Perregaux. Further activities include SOWIND Manufactures (movements), EMG SA (watch components such as cases and bracelets) and subsidiaries abroad, which are TRADEMA of America (North America), TRADEMA KK (Japan), TRADEMA SRL (Italy) and TRADEMA GmbH (Germany).
Founded in the 1990´s, JeanRichard targets what they describe as a clientele seeking original and exclusive watches, based on a great watchmaking tradition and taking fashion into account without being dominated by it. Together with a recent upgrade of most models all over the portfolio, it seems to be a recipe that works; after starting in regional distribution, JeanRichard today supplies more than 300 points of sale in 20 markets.
Ties to Girard-Perregaux are inevitable and represent a common passion; like his father, JeanRichard´s CEO Massimo Macaluso is a technically minded person, a successful rallye driver and an connoisseur of the arts. The SOWIND group is, after all, a family enterprise. Yet the independence of JeanRichard is apparent from the diverse portfolio of watches, and pieces like the successful "Chronoscope" and "TV Screen" models set it far apart from being GP´s little sister. The new JeanRichard Paramount is on the way to rival Girard-Perregaux- and not only in terms of the targeted price range.
JeanRichard´s latest creation is a big watch. Large dimensions and massive execution in the product line are not unheard of, and a variety of JeanRichard models reflect the current trend towards larger cases, but the Paramount is a much more massive watch than even the paper specs may reveal. It is, however, surprisingly comfortable to wear.
The case itself is properly milled out of solid material and nicely
The examined watch revealed some sharp edges especially at the back side and the lugs, which would benefit from being slightly more rounded. As the low number (006) indicates, this is a prototype/ pre-production example. According to JeanRichard, this detail will be addressed in the actual production. The crown bears the JeanRichard logo; it is of sufficient size to provide a good grip when winding or setting the time. While it is not so large as to cause uncomfortable pressure on the wrist when wearing the Paramount, its size and stiffness allow for precise setting of the time.
Turning the watch over, a closer look reveals a properly set front sapphire crystal with slight curves towards all edges. The specific example submitted came with a tiny defect on the crystal, which is most probably due to the circumstance that it is not a factory fresh piece.
The silvered metal dial is well executed, with large, applied rose gold numerals and a precisely printed outer track for the minutes and seconds. The inner section, bearing the name and "JR 1000" as a subtle hint at the movement, is slightly embossed and finished with a fine sunray pattern brushing. This results in an attractive contrast and gives the impression of a certain depth. The date window is properly shaped although deeply recessed; however, reading the date does not provide any problems.
The "spade" hands are of rose gold colour as well and bear a
luminous mass; due to the size, which appears to be a good choice for a
massive case like this, they are likely to provide enough glow in other
than daylight environments.
Opening the case reveals surprisingly elaborate execution; the entire case with caseback is beautifully engineered (detail pic 2). The embossed, vertical polished bars are separate components set on the main case body, and fixed by three screws from underneath. Even the movement spacer plate is a solid and precisely milled piece, nicely straight grain finished and rhodium plated. Overall the casework shows admirable attention to detail not often seen in this price range (the Paramount retails in Germany for 3.560 Euro). A particularly pleasing sight is the buckle (detail pic 1): it is large enough to properly hold the strap and the tongue is of more than sufficient size to safely close it. In this instance, experience seems to pay; the SOWIND group is one of few manufacturers to produce their own case and bracelet parts.
The movement: JR 1000
JeanRichard´s Paramount sports the first example of the new JR cal. 1000 family. The specific variant here is cal. 1090 and features a small second placed in a slightly unusual position at 9 o'clock. Since the base cal. JR 1000 is equipped with a center sweep second, the seconds subdial in the cal. 1090 has been relocated by means of an additional wheel train by a module on the dial side of the mainplate.
This solution results in more than 5mm thickness and, as a side effect of the module height, a "tunnel" view of the date. While not unheard of, both are somewhat unusual for time only movements.
The unidirectional winding rotor with ball bearing carries a heavy metal weight riveted at the outer circumference. This oscillating mass is mounted to a large central bridge, which covers the entire going train and the complete automatic winding train. As a result, the compact reverser wheel/unit is the only visible part of the automatic winding train. The separate barrel bridge with a beautiful and large jewel bearing for the barrel arbor covers ratchet wheel and click. A nice detail: the ratchet wheel click is easily accessible through a curved cut out in the bridge- a constructional detail which sometimes seems to be forgotten, but improves accessibility during service work.
The escapement section offers no surprises. This JR 1000 comes with an ETA-chron regulator/stud unit and Incabloc shock protection, as well as a three spoke Glucydur balance wheel (detail pic 3). The hairspring is laser welded to the collet and glued to the stud (detail pic 4). Although a standard approach and execution, frequently found in other movements, it is nonetheless a well tried and reliable combination.
The large pallet bridge features integrated solid banking walls, which apparently is becoming a standard among movements of current make (detail pic 5). Solid bankings are requested by the Geneva Seal and used to be a sign of excellence. This type of banking was considered superior to banking pins for quite a long time and traditional mass production methods did not allow for easy production. Improvements in production methods and modern CNC milling methods made us encounter this nice detail more often.
Another interesting detail is the way the pallet bridge is attached to the mainplate: instead of using "steady pins" to position the bridge towards the mainplate, the pallet bridge of JeanRichard comes with two U-shaped flaps. These fit into corresponding cut out sections in the mainplate. This allows for improved visual control when placing the pallet bridge into the mainplate, unlike the more common steady pins which are difficult to see. Assembling the pallet/bridge with its very delicate pivots can be a bit tricky especially in connection with convex shoulder jewels.
The automatic winding reverser is held in place by a sort of "screw gib", which acts as a click spring at the same time. The visible upper part of this reverser (detail pic 6) is geared to the rotor. Inside this transmitting wheel is a sophisticated arrangement consisting of a ratchet wheel in the center, surrounded by three small planetary gear wheels.
Due to a special asymmetrical tooth shape free rotation is possible in one direction only; the other direction of rotation results in coupling the outer transmitting wheel with the reduction pinion/arbor. In other words, the rotor spins freely clockwise and is connected to the automatic winding train only if rotating counterclockwise. The lower ratchet wheel (detail pic 7) with click spring (which is one part with the screw gib) locks the automatic winding train when the rotor turns counter-clockwise. As can be seen these ratchet wheel teeth are very fine and assymetrically profiled (picture above). This allows for locking the automatic train in very fine increments, which increases efficiency by holding back and thus storing the slightest rotor moves. The reverser wheel/unit is extremely compact and, as noted, incorporates several functions in a single part. While future repair of this part itself may be an issue due to its riveted layout, the trade-off is for greater convenience in .later service work: almost all the more sensitive functions of automatic winding are incorporated in this single unit, which itself is easy to exchange when needed.
Disassembling the reverser by unscrewing and sliding the screw gib reveals an extraordinarily large ruby for the upper reverser pivot (detail pic 8). But even more interesting is the unique execution of the jewel setting: the reverser jewel (and others in the JR 1000) is held by an unusual, "u"-shaped cut out section in the bridge. Under even closer inspection it is apparent that the jewel is held by three partial segments of the complete circumference only. This sort of jewel setting allows the placement of jewels very closed to the edges of bridges or plates. Traditional jewel setting, where the jewel is pressed in a slightly smaller hole, would inevitably lead to displacement of the jewel from center if used so closed to steps or sides; the weakest place of the hole would be pressed aside which means a high risk for "cracked" jewels.
Taking off the central going and automatic train bridge revealed yet another surprise. The complete automatic winding train and crown wheel, including transmitting wheels, are mounted below this bridge and secured by a separate, small bridge and single screws (detail pic 9, 10). This is another nice detail and allows for relatively easy assembly and disassembly. The construction of the crown wheel is a "floating" one, which results in the possibility of considerable sideshake. If the movement is wound by the crown, the crown wheel slides towards to the transmitting wheel and thus connects with the ratchet wheel. When the automatic winding via oscillating mass and automatic winding train engages, the crown wheel slides back and decouples the stem/crown and crown wheel.
In several respects the going train reveals some elaborate and interesting details.The barrel shows an twotone finish with a rhodium plated cover and the drum bronze/gold coloured. According to JR this is a special coating to improve wear resistance. The drum inside usually is a one of the weaker points of an automatic movement as the outer end of the mainspring is constantly sliding. The offset center wheel comes with a relatively large pinion with 17 teeth (detail pic 12); a large pinion will tend to help maintain constant torque transmission from barrel to center wheel. The third wheel is a very interesting solution (detail pic 13). It is crafted as a double wheel and comes with pinions on both ends; however only the upper wheel is riveted to the arbor/pinion. The lower wheel is free and does not have a connection to the arbor pinion. The center wheel drives the third wheel upper pinion with its riveted upper wheel, but as a closer look at the wheel train reveals
the fourth wheel is geared to the lower third wheel - which isn't connected with the pinion and upper wheel (detail pic 14). To make this work is a real trick: the upper wheel is connected with the lower wheel by the center sweep seconds pinion. Thus the sweep seconds pinion is driven with absolutely no "go" (tangential play). Thanks to this layout there is no need for a large and space consuming fourth wheel in the center, allowing for more free space and height for the mainspring barrel. An indirect sweep seconds layout would serve the same purpose, but would require a friction spring, which is known as common source for problems (the well known inconsistently "skipping" motion of the seconds hand). The lower pinion of the third wheel drives the cannon pinion on dial side, as we'll see later. On a side note, interestingly the sweep seconds pinion in this particular variant of the JR 1000 only serves the purpose of connecting the two third wheel parts - due to the small seconds module, the sweep center seconds pinion is "blind". As is so often the case, this well thought out double wheel system is a rediscovery of former mechanical achievements; Felsa used a very similar double third wheel, and Universal Geneve equipped the famous earlier micro-rotor movements with a double wheel for driving the minutes pinion.
Dial side with small seconds module
As noted earlier, the small second is realized by a module. JeanRichard refers to it as a "micro module", obviously because of the extremely fine tooth profile. It is obvious this module, which is found on the dial side of the mainplate, is intended to support features in addition to the small seconds. The various unused, pre-cut out sections, and an additional, but unused date window at the 3 o'clock position hint at future complications to be executed with this module (detail pics 17, 18) . This seemingly extravagant solution for a "simple" small seconds display thus reveals the "platform" character of this caliber family.
The module is attached to the mainplate by three screws; after disassembling it, the under dial train with date mechanism becomes visible. The connection between module and third wheel is achieved by use of a pinion; this pinion is connected to the base movement through a small hole in the mainplate at approximately 11.30 position and close to the hour wheel (green arrow on picture detail picture 20)
Both the keyless works with date quick set, and the date mechanism with date click are covered by steel plates (detail pic 15, 16). The instantaneous jumping date is driven by the hour wheel, reduction wheel and date driving wheel with release spring. The date driving wheel with release spring is a simple and straightforward layout - the spiral shaped spring is preloaded until the claw shaped outer end touches the inner portion, thus giving the releasing impulse for switching the date (see animated picture below).
The date quickset/corrector is covered by the keyless works and featuring a "floating" corrector wheel with two "wings". If the crown/stem is pulled out in first position and turned in counter-clockwise direction, the corrector wheel slides sideways until one of the "wings" reaches the inner teeth of the date ring and advances the date forward (see animated pic below).
Only one setting wheel is used, which is mounted to a rocker (detail pic 19). Actual operation reveals that turning the crown/stem in a clockwise direction causes the hands to move in the opposite direction. A positive aspect of this layout, featuring a rocker mounted setting wheel, is the transmission: the setting wheel stays in contact with the minute wheel only as long as the crown is in setting position. As a result, lower friction under normal running conditions can be expected; the use of a solution using additional setting wheels, which are constantly in contact with the under dial train, is likely to cause more friction.
The canon pinion is executed as a "free" canon, as it is not directly
fitted to the center wheel by friction.
which allows for a reliable and smooth friction fit by the two parallel, elastic spokes of the canon wheel.
Technical and functional finish
The visual inspection of the the various functional surfaces on wheels, pinions, pivots, springs, bridges and plates gives no cause for complaint. The pinion leaves and polishing of the pivots are obviously well executed, the wheels are precisely cut with no visible burr. All steel parts are stamped out, tumble polished and protected with a galvanic layer.
About the decorative finishJeanRichard´s approach to decorative finish appears to be very acceptable given the tentative price range of the watch. The "cotes de Geneve circulaire" of the oscillating weight are nicely executed, the straight "cotes de Geneve" on the bridges are surrounded by perlage decoration on the outer circumference and the visible parts of the mainplate. The movement does not feature jewel sinks (to say nothing of polished sinks) and for my taste, this omission causes the aesthetically pleasing highlighting effect of the jewel bearings to get nearly lost. Additionally the outside diameter of the jewels, except the one for the barrel arbor, is rather small, thus causing them to be almost impossible to see. The hidden parts of the mainplate are either irregular grained, with visible milling marks, or sandblasted. Over all, it appears to be a quite pragmatic approach, as those sections visible through the transparent back feature a more elaborate decoration. Consistently all the steel parts are not finished more elaborately than necessary for functionality.
A conclusion - and a perspective...
To return to the original question, the new Paramount with calibre JR 1000 is certainly the best the young brand offers as it enters the group of Swiss watchmaking manufactures. And the design and execution promises to compete successfully with other manufacture watches, particularly keeping in mind the price point: the steel variant will retail for 3.560 Euro in Germany, the rosé gold variant for 9.810 Euro. It seems safe to say the future owners will receive a lot of watch, not only in terms of sheer size and weight, but also thanks to an intelligently engineered movement with some clever design solutions. A noteworthy detail is the case; in this price range, a manufactured case is not found on a regular base. And the casework of Paramount is of particularly high quality and execution.
"Backed by the Sowind Group's professional expertise, JEANRICHARD is honoured to present the first of a line of movements designed for the future. Over time, modules will be added to include complications like Retrograde Seconds and Moon Phases. This presentation serves as an indication of the brand's future intentions as it takes its first step towards establishing a personalized and original identity."
The passage above, taken of a press information by JeanRichard, indicates what is to be expected in the future; based on our experience of the Paramount, it is a promising future indeed.
by Jack Forster
The JeanRichard Paramount is a watch that it would be all too easy to dismissively
glance at and formulate a snap judgment: that it is, in fact, simply another
somewhat oversized steel watch, attempting to straddle the line between sports and
dress, in a slightly derivative case with an unremarkable dial, and a movement which,
though able to boast of its status as a manufacture caliber, is nonetheless
disproportionately small for the case and thus overall detracts from rather than adds
to the esthetics of the watch as a whole. (editor's note: "the
dimension of the Paramount case is totally independent from the movement
dimension. The case was conceived even before the decision to house the JR
But it would be missing a great deal to leave it at that. The Paramount is, let us not forget, not only a flagship model featuring a new manufacture caliber- and thus a showcase for a considerable investment, hence unlikely to have been designed in haste or without consideration for detail- but also the product of a firm whose director, Mr. Massimo Macaluso, whose father and brother are trained architects, and who personally is someone who "likes to have a critical eye on the creative aspect of the watch design as well as at the technical details." Whether deliberately or through happy coincidence, Paramount plays most cleverly against the initial impression it creates, and like a well designed modern building, evokes a most satisfying tension between mass and light.
The Paramount is a careful composition of squares, in which the static properties of a rectilinear theme are animated by depth and asymmetry. The steel case might be criticized for its height (and it is indeed a massive piece of metal) which is necessitated by the inclusion of the small seconds module, but the curvature of the lugs allows it to sit stably on a seven inch wrist without seeming unduly top-heavy, and the first hint of subtlety and sophistication can be found in the alternation of brushed and mirror finish surfaces- the slightly rectangular case, a bit taller than it is broad, has its sides brushed at right angles to their long dimension, which tends to break up the verticality and which, with the upper and lower bars with their mirror polished surfaces, gives a dynamic play of horizontal and vertical to the casework that immediately lightens what could have been an oppressively heavy piece of metal- just the sort of clever playing with the properties of materials that one might expect from an architect.
As the eye moves into and through the dial, the care that has been taken to manage visual elements becomes even more apparent. The oversized numerals at twelve and six immediately suggest a strong vertical axis which is softened by the central radially brushed area. This area, which is raised slightly, is itself broken up by the slightly sunken rectangle to its left, which contains the seconds subdial. Four rectangular elements play against each other, then: the case itself, the white outer area of the dial containing the numbers track, the central radially brushed area, and the seconds subdial, and the qualities of each element have been most subtly managed so as to both interrelate and distinguish them- precisely the kind of thing that a hurried glance or casual perusal would be likely to miss.
The final touch is the play between the red 60 in the seconds track and the red color of the date numerals, which form the apices of a triangle that divide the dial and draw the eye from the inner left seconds track back out to the periphery of the dial. This triangulation sets the entire dial into a dynamic animation, where the eye travels inward and downward, but finally outward as well. The reflective properties of the case, crystal, and dial have also been deployed to deliberate and interesting effect- for instance, the absence of antireflective coating allows horizontal bars of light to play across the face of the watch in a way that enlivens without detracting at all from legibility.
I often think that one of the factors distinguishing a well designed watch from an indifferent one is how the element of depth is managed in the design. The Paramount’s case is very thick but this has been made a virtue, a property exploited for its contrast to the animation of light and movement of the eye around the dial. Even the very deep date window seems surprisingly well integrated, although in some lighting conditions the numbers are shadowed and a little difficult to read.
I found it most interesting to follow the evolution of my impressions of this watch over a period of time. It is, I think, a truly interesting design that really repays careful attention to how each of its elements have been controlled. The sensibility that informs it seems genuinely architectural, especially in the way that the almost oppressively substantial dimensions of the case are surprisingly lightened. Without an understanding of the properties of the materials used, this would have been impossible or at least clumsily done; the intelligent deployment of these qualities reminds me very much of what Modernist architecture sometimes calls the ‘richness of materials.’ While not strictly Minimalist in sensibility, the Paramount shows a subtlety and sophistication that sets it significantly apart from many other much more costly watches, and certainly from most with which it is designed to compete. The play between light and almost Classical architectonics would be a wonderful accomplishment in a building; it is an extremely pleasant surprise to find it so well expressed in a watch.
Comments, suggestions, and corrections to this article are welcomed.
Copyright September 2004 - Peter Conrad/Suitbert Walter; Jack Forster, and ThePuristS.com - all rights reserved