Jacques Etoile German Watches
The brand "Jacques Etoile" was obtained from the respective last names of Klaus Jakob and his wife written in French.
Since 1996, Klaus Jakob has been producing limited quantity of classical German wrist watches with rare movements using high-quality parts sourced from German and Swiss suppliers. His achievement can be seen from the huge collection of beautiful models introduced and completely sold out over the past few years.
The following sections present all current and past models specially designed and created by Mr. Klaus Jakob.
1) Modern Classics
- These are available models that are produced in exclusive quantity, i.e. on an annual basis, the total number of watches produced at Jacques Etoile is about 1,000 pieces including limited editions.
2) Limited Editions
- These are available limited edition models. Apart from the Unitas 6300 movements that has a fixed supply of 500 pieces, all other models presented here has a limited production quantity of between 25-100 pieces worldwide.
3) Museum Collections
- These are completely "Sold Out" models. Believe it or not, these beauties have a secondary market and they are still widely sorted by avid collectors.
The short article below is published with permission from Jacques Etoile and Cassills Holdings Pte Ltd. Hope that you enjoy reading it.
Jacques Etoile – A Star in the Sky of Watches
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”, the American President Abraham Lincoln used to say. No doubt he also wanted to express the realization that creative thoughts sometimes get ingrained in our heads for such a long time that they finally materialize. This is what master watchmaker Klaus Jakob from Lörrach might have also gone through when in 1995, he began to work on his longtime dream of his own watch brand.
The young entrepreneur could build on family tradition. Exactly forty years ago his father, Horst Jakob, had set up a small but fine watchmaker;s shop in this small town close to the Swiss border. There he also devoted himself to the maintenance and repair of high-quality mechanical watches. No task was too difficult to be carried out by this expert. Even apparently hopeless cases were awakened to new lives. The service offered involved everything ranging from the simple manual-winding watchwork up to the complex chronograph. It was no wonder that from his childhood on, the son was interested in chronometric issues and followed his father’s footsteps. His passion was above all the watchworks of a past era, calibers which were increasingly falling into oblivion in the course of the impetuous quartz wave. They deserved to have a revival with a reasonably-sized collection of watches.
Since everything nowadays requires a fine-sounding name, Klaus Jakob had the trademark Jacques Etoile registered in October 1996 – in the French language of watchmakers.
The company of Jacques Etoile produces around 1,000 watches annually. The customers are from Germany, Austria, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USA, Hong Kong, and also from the distant Japan. All of them have one practice in common – not to be acquiring a mass-produced article, but watches with an individual touch which all, without exception, go through the hands of the company’s owner. From the beginning on, Klaus Jakob has been passing only those products which he has personally inspected and deemed to be good.
For years Klaus Jakob carried with him his thoughts about the philosophy behind both the company and product. Jacques Etoile should offer watches for individuals, for a small circle of proven connoisseurs, who were not supplied by established manufacturers. Jakob put this idea into practice with his persistence. Extensive trips within Switzerland, but also coincidence and just plain luck, helped him to find parts – for example, tracing fine chronograph watchworks from the top-class producer Valjoux. Their legendary column-wheel calibers 23, 72 and 72C proved to be a success decades ago in luxury wristwatches from Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin. With the basic watchwork production discontinued in 1974, these chronographic gems belonged to the past. Understandably, their reissue of remaining specimens with the inscription of Jacques Etoile on the dial and the fine-sounding name of “Silverstone” had a warm reception among chronographic fans and was soon sold out. What was certainly also responsible for the spontaneous success was that the well-coordinated father-son team wasn’t satisfied with normal finishing standards. They disassembled the exquisite pieces, meticulously reworked the components and then carefully joined them together again. Traditional handwork skills were at the heart of the matter, since only these skills secure lasting values. Securing future value is indeed an elementary component of the Jacques-Etoile-philosophy. The watches are in no way short-term products for today and tomorrow, but quality watches able to resist the spirit of the times, and will therefore still be desirable even in the far future.
No watch without watchwork
Chronometric masterpieces such as the one mentioned above, undoubtedly provide publicity. However, due to their limited quantity, a collection cannot be based on them. Klaus Jakob had to rely on mechanical watchworks from present day production, or else those watchworks still available in larger numbers.
The former can be found in the catalog of ETA, the Swiss basic watchwork specialist. Caliber number 2824 is, for example, a reliable rotor self-winding mechanism. 7750 a tried and tested self-winding chronograph, and 6498 a sumptuous manual-winding watchwork with a power reserve of two days. They are always carefully finished, partly with company-specific extras, like a swan’s neck fine adjustment and classic balance. One of the highlights of Jakob’s palette of watchworks is the manual-winding caliber Unitas 6376 (round), as well as the decidedly rare watchwork of JE II, which indeed is produced today, but is based on older construction.
Protecting case for a sensitive inner life
The most beautiful watchwork is of no use if the outside does not correspond. Jacques Etoile is taking this into account in the construction of its cases. The small factory SUG is responsible for the precise manufacturing of the cases, though the very strict instructions are coming from Lörrach. The water resistancy is without exception down to 100 meters. The scratchproof anti-reflection coated sapphire glass permits the view of the dial and hands. And in order to not conceal the classy watchworks, the screwed-on back has a window of sapphire glass.
The production of the faces and hands is no less carefully executed. They are traditionally produced in Lörrach, largely by handwork. The hands come from one of the most acclaimed Swiss producers and are available in different designs. Jacques Etoile bases their work on flexibility and the impressive “convertible case & dial system”, which offers the freedom of choice between different face and hand combinations. The rim of the glass is also replaceable within the framework of the product line – gold instead of steel; no difficulty; stepped instead of fluted; also no problem. And if taste should change in the years coming, simply send in the watch to Jacques Etoile and state your wishes.
A look at the collection
Looking back through seven years of Jacques Etoile, Klaus Jakob can remember the first watch lines, the “Imperial” and “Racing” chronographs with the already-mentioned Valjoux 7750 caliber. They were “simple watches, not comparable with what we are making today”. The breakthrough came in 1997, with the “Plongeur”, a diver’s wristwatch still available.
In 1997, Jacques Etoile watches could be seen in Basel for the first time. Japanese journalists photographed the small collection and reported about it in Japan. The resonance was amazing. It resulted in an importer, impressive sales, many orders and a first Jacques Etoile fan club. For Klaus Jakob the breakthrough on the Japanese market was far more than a booster: “The initial order was for me a real sensation. It opened possibilities for me to implement ideals which were not previously possible.” And this can be seen in the current collection, from which we are presenting some of the highlights.
A Venus from Lörrach
A top model of the collection is a classy chronograph, with equally rare and fine manual watchwork representing a masterly synthesis of past and present. Some of its components come from former times, others from the current production of an experienced specialist. This ensemble is called Venus 175 and is in fact embodying the very highest of chronograph manufacturing. This is testified by a so-called column-wheel controlling the chronograph functions “start”, “stop” and “zero”. The classic features of the Venus 175 (with a diameter of 31 millimeters, a height of 5.7 millimeters, and a 30-minute counter) include a leisurely balance frequency of 18,000 half-beats/hour or 2.5 hertz, making it possible to stop the time at the precision of a fifth-second. The finishing of this watch corresponds to the technical features of this masterpiece, which was produced from 1940 to 1973: a barrel with ruby bearings, decorated bridges and plates (even on the dial side), a breguet balance-spring, swan-neck shaped fine-adjustment of the spring, Geneva stripes (grinding done with boxwood), blued steel screws, and chamfered and polished edges. Jacques Etoile provides elegant cases of high-grade steel or solid gold with a diameter of around forty millimeters. The limited “Venus Applique” has an elaborate dial; the “Venus Monte Carlo” has a dial in the style of the famous Abraham-Louis Breguet; and the “Venus China White” is a shiny white with prominent black hour numerals.
Recollection of the legendary 1930s
Wristwatches from the legendary 1930s are inseparably associated with the oblong form – rectangular cases, optimally filled with tonneau-shaped watchworks. Unfortunately, this type of watchwork can hardly be found anymore. One of the few exceptions is Jacques Etoile’s Estes Parc line of watches. The classic caliber with the dimensions of approximately 16 times 25 millimeters is called JE II and is technically based on an old watchwork model which was thoroughly redone by a small specialist in the Swiss Jura region. The height is just 3.83 millimeters. An especially big balance wheel provides a high torque, which guarantees decidedly good accuracy. The transmission of the force from the spring barrel to the balance consumes very little energy, which can be notice with the relatively high power reserve, which a corresponding display shows.
Matching the watchwork is its simple case, with high-grade steel (size 30 x 46 mm, height 8 mm) milled from a solid block. It is water-resistance to 100 meters. The potential customer has a choice of different dial types and, from the fall of 2002, there will be a brand-new version available with a moonphase display; the Estes Parc Lunarium. The origin of the model name is easily explained; Estes Parc is a small town in the US state of Colorado tat Klaus Jakob came to know during a trip through America.
Simple, versatile and unfortunately rare: the Metropolis
The idea came from no one less than Charles A. Heuer. On one day in 1908, when he held his hand out to the doctor to have his pulse taken and precisely observed by the physician, an idea about a special watch occurred to him. What followed was more a mathematical than a scientific matter – a numerically exactly defined number of pulse beats and the time span needed for this is enough in order to be able to calculate the number of heartbeats per minute. These values only had to be distributed correctly over a separate scale on the dial. The pulsometer scale was born. It is available on the chronograph model “Venus Pulsometer”, but also in the case of the “Medicus” from the rather simple “Metropolis” line of manual-winding watches. The limitation to only 650 watches is simply due to the fact that from the Unitas 6300 watchwork with a central second, produced between 1959 and 1968, Klaus Jakob managed to acquire the only 650 remaining pieces.
And, and and ......
Other treasures from the Jacques Etoile collection are equally interesting - for examplethe lavish “Lisbon” with the big manual-winding workwork Unitas 6498, the “Monaco Tricompax” – chronograph with the automatic Valjoux 7750, and the “Le Mans Cosmopolitain” self-winding chronograph with an additional 24-hour display. Its “ Superior” version is available for globetrotters, with a transparent sapphire glass dial and skeletonized watchwork. Lovers of mechanics are from time to time visually curious – Klaus Jakob knows this. He has therefore acted logically. Whoever has much to offer, will have something to offer many.