A rendez-vous with emotion: like Gauguin’s exotic paintings, this is an invitation to faraway places and delights for the senses. The Tropical Bird Repeater watch brings together all the watchmaking and decorative expertise of Jaquet Droz. A piece destined for discerning collectors, the Tropical Bird Repeater is part of a long history at Jaquet Droz, honoring the Enlightenment-era passion for nature and animals of founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Automatons, along with the Ateliers d’Art, represent two of the eight codes of the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture, hand-decorated here by engravers and miniaturist painters. These codes are indispensable to the creation of this scene with its flamboyant colors that emerge like a lush oasis on a mother-of-pearl dial, itself enclosed in a red gold case adorned on the sides of its lugs and on the middle band with an animal motif hand-engraved by the brand’s craftsmen.
© Jaquet Droz
A true source of life, the waterfall offers serenity to the blooming tropical flora and fauna. At the heart of this Garden of Eden, its water flows eternally in perfect realistic fashion. In the center, a hummingbird hand-carved and hand-engraved by the Maison’s artists moves towards a shrub of bright orange birds of paradise. A one-of-a-kind animation in watchmaking history, its wings beat up to forty times a second, adding incredible realism to the scene. To the right, a peacock with intense blue feathers veritably opens and closes its tail, while a toucan emerges from the palm leaves at 3 o’clock to open its beak. The dancing flight of three dragonflies, located at 9 o’clock, adds to the magic by day or by night as their tiny SuperLuminova®-coated wings glow in the dark. In all, seven animations that may exceed twelve seconds allow for up to 4 different scenarios, all the more striking as they contrast with the suspended background of the scene.
Tropical Bird Repeater © Jaquet Droz
Alongside this prowess comes a grand horological complication, the minute repeater, which enables the marking on demand of the hours, quarter hours and minutes via the vibration of cathedral gongs struck by hammers inside the case. A push-piece activates this complex mechanism, which to this day remains the privilege of a handful of brands and collectors who will surely appreciate the innovations of the new Jaquet Droz RMA89 movement. The latter is equipped with a virtually silent wheel regulator, as the regulation of the minute repeater’s speed is operated by the friction between small outer spring blades. New rack springs, an extended pause between the quarter hours and minutes, and the striking of the quarter hours at major third (spanning four semitones) are also part of the complication’s innovations. The power reserve has been increased to 60 hours with an oscillating frequency of 3 Hz.
This technical mastery – which can be seen on the pared-down case back, engraved simply with the Numerus Clausus – serves to create the feast for the eyes that is the Tropical Bird Repeater. An esthete’s watch limited to 8 unique pieces – the Maison’s tutelary number –, it plays on the contrasts between the exuberant dial and the green alligator strap, as well as the onyx dial displaying hours and minutes, magnified by the smooth reflections of the red gold case. The aesthetics render the lively paradise by Jaquet Droz all the more striking: an incredible journey and a new chapter in the history of Jaquet Droz are now in the hands of the wearer.
It isn’t true that someone can only look at an antique pocket watch and immediately know how it had been made. So much technique was lost over the ages – even in those cases once the tools and even technical drawings are available. It may be the epitome of a first-world issue (or even “Swiss dilemma,” as I call it), however there are individuals in the watch and luxury sector in general who dedicate much of their time and professions to learning how people made things in the past.This search for lost techniques and processes to make art really began in the world of restoration. People needed to restore old artwork to appear newer again, and in many cases there are not a great deal of clues to go by. Autodidacts of the most brilliant caliber have been able to reinvent some wonderful things. In the watch industry, where “older” is frequently the new “brand new,” the spirit of rediscovering the past is a deep part of the civilization of several brands. Maybe especially at firms like Jaquet Droz Charming Bird Watch Singing Hands-on Ablogtowatch Replica whose namesake died a couple hundred years ago.Going back to the opinion, the face that frames the figure eight-style dials is adorned by what they call a paillonnée enameling technique. Here we have a surface that’s stained, textured, and then put using a run of solid gold “paillons” that collectively create an attractive geometric pattern. These little gold appliques are produced in house by Jaquet Droz, as nobody else apparently has the skills to make them more. In most likelihood, traditional ones from the past were created using a casting method. Jaquet Droz also admits that a number of their first modern paillonnée enameling watches utilize original paillons in the past they were able to recover in a variety of manners. Eventually, they needed to produce new ones and currently do so in-house in small batches.I’ve personally seen Jaquet Droz’s small, albeit impressive “artistic method” studio which resembles a combination between a development and research laboratory and an art recovery studio. Techniques and styles are tested to see regarding the best way of recreating this and other lost art which we can appreciate in new watches. It is a good deal of small details, but something worth knowing about when considering an watch priced at more than100,000. That’s a good deal of cash, but there are definitely worse ways to spend it to a luxury timepiece.
Case back view © Jaquet Droz