The identity of the Jaquet-Droz family was shaped by its history, creations and encounters. With each new venture, the Jaquet Droz signature became increasingly recognizable as the genetic codes of the brand evolved: the Grande Seconde, automata, the Ateliers d’Art, enameled dials, watchcases with sensuous curves, the use of minerals, exceptional mechanisms and highly exclusive Numerus Clausus limited editions.
Its elegance is a promise of eternity. Never before in the history of watchmaking has boldness of design been illustrated with such nobility, while conserving the purity that all Grande Seconde models constantly reassert. On a single dial, the hours and minutes counter, off-centered at 12 o’clock, embraces the seconds counter, situated at 6 o’clock. The avant-garde poetry of this aesthetic arrangement forms the very core of the identity of Jaquet Droz. Defined by two subdials on a dial, the figure 8 also determines the rarity of limited editions and the most exclusive productions: the symbol of infinity and eternity, it is one of the brand’s major, magical, numerological references. Off-center subdials introduce a new way of viewing Time by playing with Arabic and Roman numerals and offering a fresh perception of each passing instant. From the 18th century to the third millennium, the Grande Seconde has been the eternal source of inspiration for the manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds: a timeless icon in extremely exclusive interpretations, which evolve with time and with each new collection.
As the Encyclopedia was being drafted, as sciences were gaining their authority and the foundations of the industrial revolution were being laid, Pierre Jaquet-Droz strove to make a genuine challenge of his trade by copying life itself. His automata—The Writer, The Musician and The Draughtsman, now exhibited at the Neuchatel Museum of Art and History—were to amaze many royal audiences at the time. Reviving this Art of Astonishment, Montres Jaquet Droz reveals its latest treasures. Its craftsmen have created The Bird Repeater, a fully animated timepiece, The Charming Bird, the first miniature singing bird on a wristwatch directly inspired by the celebrated birdcage automata of the 18th century, and finally the Lady 8 Flower, the first automaton specially dedicated to women. All these virtuoso mechanical feats, in a civilization hypnotized by digital technology, assert their absolute loyalty to the most noble and authentic of trades: watchmaking.
To perpetuate the ancestral tradition of fine decoration that Pierre Jaquet-Droz established, by steering a course for it through time and bringing it up to date—such is the challenge that the watchmaking firm's artisans must meet. In the 18th century, the Jaquet-Droz family were pioneers in the art of luxury decoration. They supported an entire generation of craftsmen through their work. Enameled cases embellished with paillons, painting on enamel and sculpted and engraved ornamentation contributed enormously to the family's success and fame. Pocket watches, decorative urns, snuffboxes and cages for mechanical singing birds—all these masterpieces were decorated. The special techniques were finally adopted, but much later, by the enamelers of the time. The exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen in the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d'Art excel in the decorative arts. The arts of painting, engraving, sculpting, pailloné and other enameling are worked in miniature and integrated into timepieces that thus become genuine works of art.
Grand Feu Enameling is one of the expert techniques that constitute the signature of a Jaquet Droz watch. Combining traditional production methods with latest generation technology, the craftsmen at Jaquet Droz have kept up with the latest developments in timepieces and the technical constraints that they involve. Today, the techniques required to make a thin watch dial of impeccable design hold no more secrets for our artisans. Relying on the subtle interaction of ultra-fine powders and precision kilns, our master dial-makers are sole guardians of the formula that yields these magnificent dials, whose color and graining are absolutely unique. Once a piece is finished, it is unalterable. The enamel will retain its beauty and gloss for centuries, withstanding the ravages of time indefinitely. A distinctive signature of Jaquet Droz timepieces since the 18th century, Grand Feu enameling has been reinterpreted by the brand in its contemporary collections.
At Jaquet Droz, a watchcase is like a treasure chest full of mechanical wonders to track time. Handsomely curved and perfectly sized, it is carefully conceived to contain remarkable movements. The design expresses choices, desires and yearnings—for the strength of stainless steel, the majestic gleam of gold, the unalterable elegance of ceramic, or the lightness of titanium. Because it is such a crucial component, the case of each Jaquet Droz timepiece undergoes no fewer than 80 different operations. That is why Jaquet Droz prizes the hands of its master craftsmen above any manufacturing tool. In addition, Jaquet Droz uses its own unique type of sapphire crystal directly inspired by the pocket watches of the 18th century.
Founded nearly three centuries ago, Jaquet Droz has always incorporated cutting-edge watchmaking technology into its timekeeping creations. Jaquet Droz mechanical self-winding and hand-wound movements are all assembled and finished by hand before being engraved with a cloverleaf, the secret signature of the manufacture's founder. In 2014, the Jaquet Droz movement underwent a major change with the addition of a silicon balance spring and inversed horns on the pallets fork. Silicon is a highly flexible material and only a small number of watchmaking brands have mastered its use. It can withstand shock and variations in temperature or pressure, and has properties that leave it unaffected by magnetic fields and capable of maintaining perfect stability over time. As with all its hand-assembled movements, Jaquet Droz plays with a range of fine finishing techniques that contribute to a unique and exclusive aesthetic signature, visible through the watch's transparent case-back. Such modernity, however, goes by the book in its execution. The enlarged bridges, off-center sunray structure and finishes that bring together tones of gray and black give this model a more contemporary feel, all the while integrating perfectly with the decorative DNA of Jaquet Droz's Ateliers de Haute Horlogerie. When Jaquet Droz first established his watchmaking business in 1738, he specialized from the outset in ultra-luxurious timepieces featuring musical mechanisms, automata and grand complications. This precious sunburst harbors sophisticated, poetic complications: automata, tourbillon, minute repeater, deadbeat seconds, perpetual calendar, jumping hour and chronograph. Time does not express itself in one dimension alone. This inspired Jaquet Droz to focus on all of the codes connected with its plurality, from the retrograde date hand to the indication of moon phases.
Within the inert immensity of the Earth lies a radiant treasure. Rocks, crystals and minerals remind us that nature is an artist. Born in the depths of our planet or in the farthest reaches of the universe, they inspire a rare and inexhaustible emotion. Jaquet Droz captures the natural brilliance of stones, using them to decorate its watch dials. Cut from rough materials in their raw state, they reveal their fascinating beauty only once they have been worked. Adorned in this way, mineral watches by Jaquet Droz become naturally unique. Their play of light, color and depth transcends the material and is ushered into the realm of beauty.
Real luxury is rare. With its one-of-a-kind creations and its Numerus Clausus editions limited to 1, 8, 28 or 88 pieces, Jaquet Droz also masters the art of exclusivity. This is truly the world of Haute Horlogerie, an eternal quest for elegance balanced with the permanent challenge represented by customization.