The 300th anniversary of founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz is feted with a new rendition of the brand’s charming Bird Repeater, an extraordinary combination of a minute repeater with automata robins feeding their chicks. Deploying all the brand’s artistic skills, the scenery of the Bird Repeater comes alive with hand-engraved red gold appliqués and miniature painting to pay homage to the birthplace of Pierre Jaquet-Droz in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking.
From a small farm in La Chaux-de-Fonds to the royal courts of Europe, Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790) charmed international royalty with his chiming clocks and magical automata. His most famous automata – the Writer, the Draughtsman and the Musician – were unveiled in 1774 and consolidated the reputation of the Swiss clockmaker as far afield as the Russian court in Kazan and the Imperial Court of China. Even after his death in 1790, his heirs (Jean-Frédéric Leschot and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz) continued to produce his popular singing birds popping out of snuffboxes or tweeting inside elaborate golden cages. The Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent Continental Blockade of 1806 signalled the demise of Jaquet-Droz & Leschot. Almost two hundred years later, Swatch Group resuscitated the brand name and by 2011 had set up its own Ateliers d’Art where the brand’s first automaton, the Bird Repeater, was brought to life in 2012. Revisited in 2015 with views of Geneva, its lake and fountain, the Bird Repeater has also appeared with tropical birds and scenery in 2017. The spectacular singing bird automaton in wristwatch format reappears in 2021 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founder.
La Chaux-de-Fonds Scenery
The latest Bird Repeater, like former models, is limited to eight pieces and features an off-centred black onyx dial for the hours and minutes with red gold hands. Crafted in a 47mm polished red gold case with a height of 18.70mm, the minute repeater is activated with the slider on the left side of the case.
The scenery of the 300th-anniversary edition is inspired by the verdant valleys and rivers of La Chaux-de-Fonds, and the farmhouse in the background is an exact replica of Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s birthplace. The dial base is white mother-of-pearl and red gold with hand-engraved and hand-painted 18k red gold appliqués.
The two red robins in the foreground are meticulously engraved by hand. The smaller robin on the left bobs down to feed the chicks a red berry while the larger robin on the right nods its head. There are two hungry chicks in the nest vying for food, and surprise, surprise, the egg in the middle hatches before your eyes! The foreground is decorated with autochthonous flora and fauna, including the gentian flower, red berries, holly leaves, a blue butterfly, a dragonfly and a grasshopper.
The exquisite métiers d’art on the dial are matched by one of the most complicated mechanisms in watchmaking: a minute repeater. Not just a minute repeater, mind you, but a minute repeater with the corresponding automata mechanisms to animate the birds. Revealed on the caseback, the cathedral gongs on the perimeter frame the movement with its elegant bridges and refined finishings, including hand-polished bevels, concentric Geneva stripes and circular graining. The Jaquet Droz calibre RMA88 is a hand-winding movement with a frequency of 18,000vph and a single barrel delivering a power reserve of 48 hours.
Availability & Price
The Bird Repeater 300th-Anniversary Edition is limited to eight pieces and comes with a handmade black alligator strap with an 18k red gold folding clasp. The price will be EUR 544,700.
More information at www.jaquet-droz.com.