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
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