Up close: Jacob & Co. Opera Godfather Minute Repeater

Tops in style and sophistication.

Known for its jewelry clocks and planetariums, Jacob & Co. specializes in top-of-the-line watches. One of its latest products is the Opera Godfather Minute Repeater. Inspired by the film of the same name, this large watch features the brand’s typical sapphire cake dome style and houses a 758-component movement. While the Godfather branding on the dial is flashy, the mechanics of the watch are surprisingly unusual and impressive.

The Godfather repeater can tell the time through the minute repeater function and can also play the Godfather theme on the miniature binocular music box inside the case (see video below). This makes it essentially a double-chain complication: one barrel and running chain drive the three-axis tourbillon and time display – which is linked to the repeating mechanism – while the second barrel and chain drive the music box .

Jacob & Co. fake specializes in loud watches, so everything has to be judged by that benchmark. For example, the Twin Turbo Furious is one of the more modest complications offered by the brand.

The Godfather Repeater is just right for that track. It’s very large – nearly 50mm wide and over 20mm high – so it scores poorly on abrasion resistance. But it scores highly on the state of the wrist, both aesthetically and functionally, which is certainly the focus of the entire exercise.

That said, the large size is more than just vanity. This makes perfect sense mechanically, as the case is filled with the movement. The movement developed by Le Cercle des Horlogers, a frequent partner of Jacob & Co., is very interesting. The construction of the movement can be deduced from what is visible, which is of course novel – the layout has to be twisted to accommodate the music box, time display and tourbillon on the front.

Its complex combination – repeater, music box and tourbillon – is not common. A few brands do make music box watches, notably Breguet, Christophe Claret, and Ulysse Nardin, but neither a minute repeater nor a tourbillon, making Jacob & Co. the only brand to offer one.

These acoustic complexities make sense when put together, but the nature of the music box inevitably requires a massive movement, which results in a massive top quality watches. Even the Breguet La Musicale 7800, possibly the most elegant music box watch ever made, is only 48mm in diameter.

The sophistication of the Godfather repeater is impressive. And it does a decent job with sound. Both the repeater and the music box are clear and pleasant, despite the inevitable buzz of the Doge. The repeater, in particular, is particularly loud, thanks in part to the wide and ventilated interior of the case.

As an otherworldly, highly complex watch, the Godfather Minute Repeater has been an admirable success with a bold statement. Its size and complexity are gorgeous enough on their own, which makes the branding on the dial excessive and unnecessary.

The godfather emblem and portrait of Marlon Brando on the miniature grand—not forgetting the violin-shaped crown lever—reminiscent of cheap movie memorabilia. They’re tacky and unnecessary – take it all and it’s still the godfather repeater.

And on the subject of The Godfather, best Jacob & Co. has acquired the film rights to a series of watches. The basic Godfather is a three-axis tourbillon with a music box and track display, but no minute repeater. There are six variants of this model, plus several versions of the Godfather repeater, including one with an (and tacky) bullet-marked hour. Jacob & Co. also makes some Scarface watches. There are too many watches based on gangster movies in the brand’s catalog, though that might just be the result its customers want.

The Godfather Repeater is good at what it wants to be. To do so, it requires a retail price of $600,000, which makes it expensive relative to comparable watches. For example, the Louis Vuitton Carpe Diem Minute Repeater retails for just under $500,000. Still, nothing else compares to it – repeaters, music boxes and multi-axis tourbillons (don’t forget the retro organised crime theme) – so it can’t compare to anything else.

under the cake dome
The case of the Godfather repeater is more like a gold frame for multiple sapphire windows on all sides. I counted the seven sapphire windows on the front, sides and back, which offer panoramic views of the movement.

All those windows and its tall profile also give it the cake-dome look that has become Jacob & Co.’s signature watch aesthetic thanks to the brand’s best-selling complication, the Astronomia.

The case is tall, making the skeletonized lugs appear exaggerated. But they’re cleverly kept short and sloped down, and the strap is attached to the bottom of the case, so despite the watch’s large diameter, it’s in a decent position.

Despite everything on the dial, legibility is surprisingly good. This is thanks to the elevated skeleton sub-dial in rose gold at the time, which contrasts sharply with the movement.

Raised with additional gearing, the raised time display is necessary to make room for everything below – the music box’s two cylinders, a spherical three-axis tourbillon and striking mechanism. Surrounding all of this is the repeater’s raised gong.

The time display, tourbillon and mainspring form the part of the movement that is responsible for timing.

This in turn connects to the striking mechanism visible on the back, which “reads” the current time and then strikes the hammers and gongs on the front. Essentially a modular mechanism mounted on the back of the movement, the striking mechanism, along with the hammers and gongs, forms the second key part of the movement. buy watches online

The last part is the music box, which is an independent body. That is to say, even if the striking barrel is not wound and the time is not adjusted, the music box will work normally.

It can do this because the music box is powered by its own barrel, which is wound by the same crown. I believe the two barrels are stacked, with the barrel closest to the case back powering the chronograph and the other hidden barrel for the music box.

The one-piece violin-shaped lever, the crown has two winding directions, one for the timekeeping barrel winding, and the other for the music box barrel winding.

When fully wound, the chronograph movement can run for 44 hours—a respectable thing considering the size of the constantly moving tourbillon—while the music box can play three full sequences in full wind.

It’s hard to imagine that the three-axis tourbillon isn’t the most prominent element in the movement, but it has a lot of competition in the Godfather minute repeater.

The music box consists of two copper cylinders with steel needles, each of which rotates against a steel comb. The vibrations of the 30 teeth of the two combs then produce a composition of 120 notes.

Because the cylinders must rotate at a constant speed, their movement is regulated by a governor visible at two o’clock. Like the repeater’s governor (visible at six o’clock), it uses air resistance to regulate the movement of the cylinder.

Located at 1 o’clock is the three-axis tourbillon, the same as the one in the Twin Turbo Furious, which was also developed by the same movement specialist. Aside from the tourbillon, both the Godfather minute repeater and the Twin Turbo Furious share several elements of their movements, including the minute repeater mechanism.

The tourbillon rotates at high speed: the outermost cage rotates once every 180 seconds, the middle cage completes a rotation every 48 seconds, and the innermost cage completes a rotation every 24 seconds.

The tourbillon also employs a “torque separation” mechanism, essentially two superimposed wheels, connected by springs, with a limited range of relative motion. This limits the energy delivered to the tourbillon – which is large and heavy – in turn smoothing out the energy delivered to the balance wheel. Due to this mechanism, the movement of the cage can sometimes appear jerky, as if it were gradually rotating.

The separation mechanism is a solution to the problems created by tourbillons that are not necessary for simpler tourbillons, or none at all. But that would completely ignore the point of this watch, which is minimal in style and function. Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

With the development of the multi-axis tourbillon, this one is a more elegant one. Thanks to the extensive use of skeletonized wheels made by LIGA, a lithography technique that enables extreme detail on a tiny scale, the tourbillon has many exotic shapes.

The other major kit up front is the strike mechanism. A pair of hammers and accompanying gong are visible at the front. The repeater setup is traditional, although the two gongs dove significantly upwards as they extend out of the base in order to clear the music box mechanism on the dial.

The striking is controlled by a percussion mechanism visible on the back. This is a series of racks that “read” the time and convert it into an input for the hammer and gong. In terms of decoration, the movement is exquisitely crafted – clean, capable and comprehensive, but not entirely handmade. That said, the refined finish is certainly not what attracts buyers to such a watch.

The Godfather Repeat watch, and Jacob & Co. more broadly, occupy a unique niche of luxury, over-the-top timepieces that no other brand can match. While many brands in this segment share similar styles, the Godfather Repeater and many other Jacob & Co. complications are different.

Granted, the Godfather repeater could be improved — mostly by dialing back the brand — but it excels at maintaining the status quo.

Jacob & Co. Opera Godfather Minute Repeater
refer to. OP500.40.AA.AA.ABALA

Diameter: 49 mm
Height: 23 mm
Material: 18k rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: JCFM07
Functions: Time, minute repeater, three-axis tourbillon and music box with two cylinders
Winding: Manual winding
Frequency: 21,600 beats/hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 44 hours

Strap: Alligator leather with folding clasp