Happy Birthday to Jaquet Droz

The Swiss watch manufacturer, turns 280. A birthday being celebrated with a minute repeater pocket watch with automation



The Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch, launched this year to celebrate the 280 anniversary of Jaquet Droz. In the centre of the scene, a brightly colored macaw parrot painted in Grand Feu enameling with paillonnage. Behind a cover decorated with stone-set lian

The celebratory piece for this important anniversary is one which, at first glance, already speaks of cult. It is a pocket watch with automation. A sensational specimen. And yet, it is much more than just a talking piece aimed essentially at flaunting admirable technical capacities. It is more like an object of absolute and extraordinary normality. At least for Jaquet Droz. A small, Swiss watch manufacturing company, founded 280 years ago, with an annual production of just over 2,500 authentic works of watch-making art. Sometimes unique, more frequently in limited series, they are, however, ambassadors of those métiers d’art that are dying out in other places yet surviving here, handed down through the generations since the mid 1700s. Techniques at the service of dials, like miniature painting, Grand Feu enameling, engraving, paillonnage, micro mosaic. Or applied to the mechanics, perhaps in the form of automation.

 

The latter is a Jaquet Droz ‘signature’. Small, moving contraptions that are still able to enchant thanks to the sophisticated level of miniaturization achieved. Items that were once literally astonishing when such prodigies were admired not so much by beautiful watch collectors and enthusiasts but by more authoritative crowned heads. Those of Spain, France, Russia and even China. Ambassadors of the Art of Wonder (nowadays we would define them as ahead of their time), automations, sent in luxurious carriages to the most powerful courts of the time as tangible proof of Swiss watch-making abilities, natural companions to the sale of pocket or musical models, pendulum clocks and snuff boxes. And songbirds for that matter. Always authentic and a recognized specialty of the company founded by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, creations inspired by the naturalist fashion of the time, interpreted by the ‘maestro’ of La Chaux-de-Fonds, combining beauty with mechanical genius. Inanimate items made to move. With the utmost realism. Just like the Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch presented this year to celebrate the brand. Unique due to its Numerus Clausus (1/1), due to the fact of reuniting the entire spectrum of Jaquet Droz art and due to the refined hand-wound movement (668 components) with minute repeater, cathedral gongs and automation. It is ready to stage, on demand, its particular performance with singing and the beating of wings, suspended in a special and finely hand-painted cage.


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