Jacob & Co.’s unofficial mandate is to continually impress and surprise its core base of customers. Targeting members of the ultra elite, the people who tend to buy Jacob & Co. watches aren’t looking for sheer value or refined brand prestige. What the people who buy Jacob & Co. watches want is novelty and originality. Thus, as Mr. Jacob Arabo’s enduring mission is to satisfy his customers, his challenge is to keep things fresh, keep things interesting, and in many cases keep things complicated. Understanding a bit about the brand might help to explain where something like the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 watch came from. It isn’t really inspired by anything Jacob & Co. has in the past – which is actually a point of pride for the brand given that they are always trying to come up with something new. I don’t think we covered the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 on aBlogtoWatch when it first came out a few years ago. We did, however, cover the new-for-2016, even more high-end version called the Jacob & Co Epic SF 24 Flying Tourbillon. What’s that all about? Well, you guess it, it is the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 watch you see here, but with the inclusion of a large flying tourbillon on the dial. You also have the option to decorate it with a lot of diamonds – no surprises there, as these timepieces do bear the Jacob & Co. name on them. In titanium sans and precious stones, this is about as bare-bones as a Jacob & Co. “complicated” watch gets. What’s complicated about it? Well, the entire concept of the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 watch is simple, and that is to adapt the notion of a “split flat” (where the “SF” part of the name comes from) system as the world time indicator. The interesting world time indicator system of course needed to be integrated into an otherwise traditional watch, so here the designer sort of attached the cylindrical-shaped split flat system on the top part of the case. The marriage of a round case with the attached region for the world time indicator works, but it isn’t what anyone might refer to as the peak of elegance. There is a handsome functional sense to the logic in how the watch works, and its overall utility and legibility. It earns praise there, but I wouldn’t call the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 a conventionally attractive luxury watch. It is, however, remarkably comfortable. Put the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 on your wrist and you can hardly believe how comfortably it fits. I’ve actually experienced this with a number of Jacob & Co. watches – many of which seem to have totally weird cases. The brand does seem to put a lot of effort in to wearing comfort. It might not be a universal rule, but in the context of strange watch cases, more feel comfortable on the wrist from Jacob & Co. than I find is the case with odd watch cases from many other brands. At 45mm wide (water resistant to 30 meters), the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 case has a nice solid feel to it along with the customary low weight that comes from its titanium construction. Much of the case is also made from pieces of AR-coated sapphire crystal, as well as inset rubber along the sides of the case, in the crown, and for the world time indicator adjuster button. Most of the case is just 13.65mm thick, but the case has its maximum thickness of 16.7mm thick where the world time capsule is. Split flap information display systems are uniquely appropriate because they, like mechanical watches, are a vestige from before the electronic screen displays and were often found in places such as airports and train stations. A series of flaps rotate in a circle like an old Rolodex to indicate various information. This is adopted to a world time indicator where the flaps indicate a reference city as well as a time in 24-hour format to the right of the reference city. To set up the world time system, as with similar watches, the user needs to synchronize the watch to their local time, and then adjust properly. A push on the button to the left of the split flap system advances the reference time zone ahead one hour. I do hope Jacob & Co, designs the split flap world timer system to be very durable because who ever wears this watch is going to be constantly playing with this complication. Jacob & Co. does their best to ensure you can view as much of it as possible, even putting a small sapphire crystal on the cylinder so that you can see it operating from the side. Brands like Jacob & Co. are fully aware that the buyers of their products will enjoy them like toys, and want to see the operation of the mechanics with their own eyes. Yes, luxury watches are a type of toy. If the standard Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 watch isn’t toy-like enough for you, you can opt for the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 Racing, that comes in titanium with various bright-colored trims such as green and red. The Racing models are mostly the same, but have different fonts for the world time cites, and the aforementioned color accents. Of course, the real luxury toys are the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 models with diamonds – sweet, sweet diamonds. Inside the watches is the exclusive Jacob & Co. caliber JCAA02 automatic movement. It offers the time with subsidiary seconds dial, and of course the world time complication. It’s not haute horology per se, but the movement is reasonably well-decorated and visible through the sapphire crystal caseback window. One small complaint is that on this same sapphire crystal Jacob & Co. prints a lot of graphics which consist of a “metalized” depiction of a globe with the Jacob & Co. logo over it. This doesn’t seem to offer much aesthetic value, and really only acts to inhibit a view of the movement. The movement, by the way, operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) and has a power reserve of 45 hours. Even if you aren’t emotionally compelled to like the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 as a concept, you have to admit that the system is well-designed and -executed. The split flat world time system was clearly not easy to engineer, and its resulting functionality and smoothness of operation is honestly quite impressive. You feel as though all efforts went into making the system as complete and ergonomic as possible. This is despite the fact that Jacob & Co. will never produce very many of these watches, as each version of the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 is part of a limited edition.
On the wrist, the uneven proportions of the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 make it appear a bit better while worn with long sleeves. The case shape is so unorthodox, that not everyone call pull off the look to begin with, and wearing it with sleeves will allow you to wear the watch with some… context. Even though it is an avant-garde watch, for sure, the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 isn’t difficult to live with given its comfort and ease of use. Even the dial has a helpful amount of luminant for night viewing. I will, however, say that the inner skeletonized parts of the hour and minute hands are not particularly beneficial when it comes to overall legibility. With that said, given the design and concept of the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24, reading the dial for the time isn’t at all too bad. When I first learned about the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24 watch a few years ago I approached it with tacit respect but caution, since it was clearly on the weird side even for me. Moreover, with a starting price of over $60,000, this is the type of watch that demands serious consideration for potential customers. After spending time with the Jacob & Co. Epic SF 24, I’ve learned that it very competently accomplishes the admittedly specific task that Jacob & Co. assigned to it. I respect the success of the concept as well as its outcome, even if this remains a niche timepiece both in fact and appeal. With that said, I fully anticipate that this is one of those watches that in the future will be collectible given the simple fact that I cannot anticipate anyone (ever) trying to replicate Jacob & Co.’s efforts to create a split flap-style indication system for a complication like this.