Jaquet Droz, the art of revealing the invisible

There is much more to the art of measuring time than its mechanical transcription. The true challenge for brilliant watchmakers is to be able to bring it to life – precisely what Jaquet Droz's art has been doing for almost three hundred years now.

By Vincent Daveau

Give honor where honor is due. These words have a powerful meaning, and rightfully so as it goes without saying that the horological creation which today best embodies the skills of the brand founded by Pierre Jaquet Droz is the Charming Bird.

Jaquet Droz (1721-1790) hailed from a family of peasants and watchmakers. He embraced the Enlightenment – the great naturalist movement in which he was born – wholeheartedly. The Enlightment touched the scientists, artists and philosophers of the 18th century. Jaquet Droz’s great appreciation of the beauty of plants and animals made him the first watchmaker ever to encase a singing bird in a pocket watch. Later on, this outstanding complication would make its way into watch cases and other art objects. The aim was to appeal to a cosmopolitan clientele that, from Madrid to Beijing, was fan of the creations of the exceptional master watchmaker.

Jaquet Droz Charming Bird Jaquet Droz Charming Bird

In an endeavor to continue Jaquet Droz’s work with more than just commercial pieces, the two-star brand has recently introduced the "Bird Repeater" and the "Charming Bird". The latter, winner of the "Mechanical Exception Watch Prize" at the 2015 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, reminded us that miniaturized automata were the signature of this expert in pure mechanics who, as the true creator of the pre-industrial era, managed to impress in his time.

Jaquet Droz  Charming Bird Jaquet Droz Charming Bird, close-up

The Charming Bird: a miniaturized praise to nature

It is hard to wrap our heads around the fact that so much talent is encased in this 47-mm red gold or white gold case. Yet, that is exactly where the magic of this major work of art lies. In all its majesty, the comfortable watch is not only a concentrate of great crafting skills, but also of two different patented mechanisms that drive and animate the microscopic tit caged in this frame created with unique virtuoisity. 

Jaquet Droz  Charming Bird Jaquet Droz Charming Bird

Seemingly simple at first glance, the complex watch is the result of years of extensive research and development. It was only after careful consideration that the craftspeople managed to successfully reproduce the tit's natural singing. For this reference, the brand did not want to make do with the usual vibrations, like the ones used in minute repeaters. To obtain this true to life dimension, they relied on a bird's call so that the sound had a perfect pitch. The bird's singing is produced by three tiny sapphire crystal tubes in which flow the valves that compress the air inside the case thanks to an aerator equipped with a micro particle filter. To limit sound interference, the flywheel of the singing mechanism is magnetic.

Jaquet Droz  Charming Bird Jaquet Droz Charming Bird, close-up

In this universe where tradition meets futurism to create a harmonious and unique piece, Jaquet Droz’s craftsmen have created for the bird an exceptional mother-of-pearl dial engraved with the best effects. Available in only eight copies, the wonderful piece is at the same time a watch, a memorable object and a work of art. It’s hard to beat that.

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Translated from the original French text

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