It was 2001. I was in my first year of high school and Christmas break was approaching when a few friends and I went to see a new movie at the cinema: The Lord of the Rings.
I was still fairly sheltered in my small town and because my focus was more on sports, cars and my friends, I was not yet a big reader of fiction and had no experience with JRR Tolkien. At the end of the opening sequence, I was transfixed. And by the end of the initial three hour run time, I was a convert from Tolkien.
I waited until the end of the second movie to start reading the books, but by the time I finished them I kept reading The Hobbit then move on to other less common works like Unfinished tales, Stories from Middle-earth, The children of Húrin, and especially, The Silmarillion, commonly referred to as “the bible of Middle-earth”. I read this incredibly detailed tome almost three times and absolutely fell in love with the way Tolkien built worlds.
As the films came out, followed by extended edits with hours and hours of behind-the-scenes content, I devoured them. I have read books on the “science” and philosophy of Middle-earth and purchased books showcasing the art and design of films over the decades. In college, I practiced sketching by copying the works of the greatest artists who put pencil on paper to bring Tolkien to life.
I’m referring to Alan Lee and John Howe, two incredibly talented artists who have come to define what most people think of when they imagine Middle-earth. Watching their work helped me fall in love with art and design and made me think about creating beautiful objects that are both functional and steeped in history and culture.
These men and Tolkien helped me become the creative person that I am today.
One of these artists, John Howe, has now entered another of my fields – watchmaking – with his partnership with Jaquet Droz to create an absolutely stunning work of art that will be presented as a miniature painting on the dial. of a Petite Heure Minute watch. .
Given that Howe has created many iconic dragons for Tolkien’s works over the years, it was fitting for him to create something radiating the same energy and history for Jaquet Droz. The result is the new limited edition Petite Heure Minute Dragon, a watch that perfectly combines two of my life’s influences in one incredible object.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dragon John Howe
The limited edition Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dragon began life as a 41mm Petite Heure Minute model to give John Howe as much room as possible for his artistic representation of a great mythical beast.
The Petite Heure Minute is a unique piece with an offset time display that occupies only a third of the dial, offering plenty of space for miniature painting. The bezel is also quite minimal, providing a larger dial. And Jaquet Droz chose the larger 41mm case size rather than the smaller 35mm size to allow for more “canvas” – eschewing the 43mm Petite Heure Minute Grande Date model to ensure a more unisex watch capable of fit more wrist sizes.
Proportionally speaking, the staggered dial is large on the 41mm model, filling the center but still leaving plenty of room for decoration. The time display is in the same style as the Grande Date models, with a track surrounding the Roman numeral hour markers. Track dots mean individual minutes with slightly larger five minute marks.
The Jaquet Droz logo is the only other thing on the offset dial. All these markings are pad printed in white on the dials of the white gold and red gold editions. The miniature painting of the magnificent dragon obscures the 6 to 9 hours, visually advancing the painting.
The entire dial is in deep blue baked enamel providing a really rich background for the dragon in blue and purple hues. The dragon theme continues through to the movement visible on the back where the winding rotor has been hand-engraved like a dragon’s tail, although technically not the same tail on the front. Still, the styling is the same and the engraved rotor is a nice touch.
Reduce a masterpiece
But the real gem is the incredibly detailed miniature painting, which is taken directly from John Howe’s original artwork. The dragon, a creature Howe has depicted on numerous occasions, was first created as a gloriously detailed life-size painting, at least 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter. The scales, spine, teeth and everything in between have been carefully textured and shaded with a keen eye for the light emanating from the “Dragon Pearl” held in the creature’s claws.
Masterful light control is a hallmark of Howe’s work – he placed a single light source in the center of the radiating room to light up the dragon from the glowing orb in the center. The bluish white light allows the blue and purple dragon to remain generally monochromatic until you get to its mouth. The contrast of the bright red of the interior adds a touch of warmth to the otherwise chilly composition and hints at the possibility of a fire-breathing monster without the need to add the flames.
All this nuance has been skilfully transferred to the miniature painting of the dial of the Petite Heure Minute Dragon. Some detail has been lost in the downscaling, things like the delicate separation found between individual scales and some of the hairline reflections of light at the edges of the dragon’s spine. But the subtle play of light is still in effect and makes the scene vibrant and alive.
Even when viewed under extreme magnification, the brush looks amazing and showcases the talented artists working in Jaquet Droz’s Crafts Department. This talent continues on the back of the watch with the finely detailed engraving of the dragon’s tail.
The sculpted scales undulate perfectly, creating a feeling of volume and movement, something very difficult to capture in such a small and flat engraving. Subtle shading is even present in the red gold version, which sees the addition of a touch of paint to darken the grooves, keeping the vision of John Howe present even there.
The visual presentation of the Petite Heure Minute Dragon is truly an accomplishment of the work between several artisans and watchmakers, taking the source material and creating a magnificent work of art for the wrist.
I will always love the John Howe style thanks to my history with Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings and my passion for epic fantasy. It’s a watch that may be a niche for some, but it mixes up two of my great loves.
The aesthetic change from the Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon 2020 may be obvious, but the feeling that the Petite Heure Minute Dragon evokes in me is tripled.
The Petite Heure Minute Dragon John Howe is presented in two limited edition models of 18 pieces each in red and white gold, unfortunately out of my financial reach, but I hope to one day own an original work by John Howe, maybe the exact dragon painting created as a template for this watch! It only remains for me to convince Jaquet Droz to part with it one way or another. . .
While I’m breaking this one, let’s break it down!
- Wowza factor * 9.4 This combines my nerdy geekdom so much that the wowza factor is pretty high!
- Late night lust call * 94 ”921.825 m / s2 Over the course of my years I have already spent many nights dreaming of Middle-earth dragons thanks to John Howe, so spending time fantasizing about a watch with one of his is almost effortless!
- MGR * 55 Jaquet Droz is good at making well finished movements and capable of supporting artistic endeavors in fine crafts, and this is no exception!
- Add-Function * N / A Who cares, there’s a fucking dragon John Howe on it! But, seriously, like many rooms, there is only time, and that’s all you need for you to be able to skip the I must-HAVE-This cream and just enjoy the art!
- Ouch Outline * 11.1 Scrape your nails on the tiles underwater! Anyone who hates the sound of nails on a chalkboard probably also hates to think about what it feels like to scratch a chalkboard. But when I recently took a dip in my apartment pool and scratched the tiles underwater with my fingernails, it immediately reminded me how much I hate that feeling. Even thinking about it gives me chills down my spine. It’s just one of those things, but I would happily do it again if that meant I would be the proud new owner of this amazing piece!
- Mermaid moment * Mermaid? Rather dragon! It didn’t take long to fall head over heels in love with this amazing piece of wrist art. All that remains is to set a date!
- Impressive total * 920,333 Start with the caliber number (2653) and divide by the bar waterproof index (3), then add the number of pieces in both limited editions (36) for an impressive total straight out of your imagination!
For more information, please visit www.jaquet-droz.com/petite-heure-minute-dragon-john-howe-2021.
Quick facts Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dragon John Howe
Case: 41 x 12.1 mm, red or white gold
Movement: automatic Jaquet Droz Caliber 2653.Si, 68-hour power reserve, frequency 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 36 pieces, 18 pieces each in red gold and white gold
Price: $ 36,900
You can also enjoy:
How to Train a Dragon: Jaquet Droz Collaborates with John Howe, Illustrator and Concept Artist of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon: Forged in fire
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Tiger: So realistic that you would expect it to jump off the dial
Corum’s Golden Bridge: in pursuit of the dragon’s tail