Baselworld 2018: A Closer Look at Jaquet Droz’s Latest Creations

Baselworld 2018: A Closer Look at Jaquet Droz’s Latest Creations

To celebrate its 280th anniversary, Jaquet Droz released a vast array of new timepieces. Let’s dive right in!

By Joël A. Grandjean

A yellow gold tribute watch, a pair of colorful macaws bursting into life in an animated scenario, a luminescent skeletonized movement and a stylized tiger depicted against a pique-à-jour enamel ground… New celebratory pieces, and even more discoveries to take the breath away…

Jaquet Droz continues a journey that few could ever have believed. Still driven by the power of the number 8 and all multiples thereof, as if to hammer home the unusual figure-eight display of its "grande seconde", a path that has led to today's go-to reference, and a journey that has last to such exquisite delights.

The 'Grande Seconde Tribute', an ode to purity in yellow gold

Crafted in yellow gold, perhaps an obvious choice, but a first for the brand. Epitomizes the classic elegance of the brand's pure styling. What’s even more impressive is the transcendent ivory 'grand feu' enamel dial. The 'Grande Seconde Tribute', produced in a limited edition of 88 pieces, is a heritage milestone for the brand, which is celebrating its grand 280th anniversary this year. Assuredly, for Jaquet Droz, the 1784 pocket watch that initially served as its inspiration will remain forever in its DNA. The sum total of the watchmaker's art is here, powered by the self-winding mechanical calibre 2663.Si, where Si stands for the silicium of its escapement.

The challenges of transparency

The very idea that Jaquet Droz can make a foray into skeletonization, might appear nothing short of fantasy. And yet, the task was executed, and the challenge was won. Achieving the required architectural aesthetics using the skeletonization process is an exercise fraught with danger. The watchmaker's art consists in removing a maximum amount of material by cutting, stripping and piercing the timepiece in question, without undermining its chronometric capabilities. The brand's je ne sais quoi is thus further illustrated in the Grande Seconde Skelet-One. The design of the suspended calibre, the tubular capillary network and the thin circles of sapphire crystal bearing the various inscriptions, are somehow ethereal, mesmerizing. Two gold versions (isn't it incredible how just a different base color can give the impression of a totally different watch), one in red gold, the other in white gold, are accompanied by a third iteration in black ceramic. A truly eye-catching piece that is sure to set collector’s hearts ablaze.

Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara

In another bid to achieve transparency and harness light, a tiger is ready to spring. The Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara, a piece that requires a mastery of the age-old Pique-A-Jour enameling technique, is also celebrating its 280th anniversary. It has something of the mosaic about it, the fine gold wire cloisonné creates tiny compartments, preventing the different colors from blending into one. Yet in order for Jaquet Droz to arrive at its latest invention in 2018, a base was required for supporting all the different parts of the mosaic. Thus, dispensing with the traditional dial as the base, the workshop's craftsmen transform the mosaic into a suspended creation similar to a stained-glass window. When the piece is bathed in light, resulting in a sometimes blueish, sometimes reddish desert hue, the tiger appears real, and the whole piece, together with the motif, appear to suspend time.

The undisputed star, the Parrot Repeater pocket watch

While a golden moon sweeps the dial's black enamel surface in the new Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel, and a row of natural or jade pearls awaits ready to adorn the wrist of a lucky lady of means, the undisputed star of this spring, admittedly a long time in the making, is the incredible Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch. This piece, suspended in a mirrored presentation case with richly decorated doors, is a distillation of the watchmaker's chronometric and automata skills. It continues the tropical motif of the Tropical Bird Repeater (see our article, 'The magical flight of the hummingbird').

Aside from depicting the colorful antics of a pair of macaws, this piece stands testament to the entire spectrum of human talents that abound within the Jaquet Droz workshop. Eight masters of rare handicrafts are employed in the making of a single creation, each contributing their own talent and experience, including the enameller, the hand engraver, miniaturist, and – the nimble-fingered watchmaker capable of producing a minute repeater that emits chimes on its cathedral gongs. Pierre Jaquet Droz himself, a confirmed nature-lover, would surely have approved.

More Jaquet Droz images taken during Baselworld 2018

(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)

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