Time­keeper Ex­traor­di­naire

The pas­sion for au­toma­tons en­dures at Ja­quet Droz—take a look back at the brand’s his­tory and the re­mark­able man who started it all

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus | Jaquet Droz -

Two years ago, an an­tique Singing Bird Cage Clock pro­duced in 1785 made head­lines when it sold for about HK$2.4 mil­lion at an auc­tion in Geneva. In its gilded cage, a flow­ing foun­tain served a dra­matic back­drop for birds with eyes made of glass and mouths of bone—the de­tails so in­tri­cate that one can make out the joints that al­low the wings to flap, the tails to wag, and the beak to open and close as it chirps.

The piece was es­tab­lished to be a Ja­quet Droz, a watch­maker whose mas­tery in singing birds and au­toma­tons was sec­ond to none dur­ing that pe­riod. Be­hind this his­tor­i­cal brand is Pierre Ja­quet-droz, a man ahead of his time—and a dreamer with the in­ge­nu­ity and tal­ent to re­alise his vi­sion re­gard­less of its au­dac­ity.

Pierre was the son of a clock­maker, from whom he learned the ba­sics of watch­mak­ing and me­chan­ics at the fam­ily’s work­shop in Sur le Pont, Switzer­land. At 17, Pierre set up his very own work­shop at La Chaux-de-fonds, where he started mak­ing clocks and other time­pieces of in­creas­ing com­plex­ity. Even early on, he was drawn to grand com­pli­ca­tions—ex­per­i­ment­ing on and even­tu­ally mas­ter­ing the art of time­pieces that fea­ture au­toma­tons, singing birds and strik­ing-hour mech­a­nisms. The Charm­ing Bird is metic­u­lously dec­o­rated, en­graved and painted by hand at Ja­quet Droz’s Ate­liers d’art

time in mo­tion

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