If you look back in the history of watchmaking, you’ll notice that most of the old watchmakers were not only creating watches but also automats, something especially appreciated by kings and nobles during the 18th century. Not only watches and automats are closely linked but the development of complicated automats was only possible because of the progresses made by watchmaking. One of the most famous creator of automats was Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721–1790). In order to pay tribute to his ancestor, the brand that holds his name created in 2012 a watch mixing a repeater and an automat. For 2015, there is a new edition complementing the collection. Here is the Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater Geneva edition.
The Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater is a proper collection in the collection for Jaquet Droz, as several very limited edition of this watch already exist, as for example the very first run of 8 watches presented in 2012 or the skeletonized edition introduced in 2014. The Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater represents horology at its finest. It combines fine watchmaking with a minute repeater, métiers d’art (artwork) with a fully hand-engraved and hand-painted dial and automats with an animation of the birds.
Let’s first talk about what is unusual for us here: automats and artwork. The dial is made of solid gold, as well as the four birds, the egg and the nest that are fully engraved by hand and then meticulously painted. The main sub-dial that shows the hours and minutes is made of a natural stone, a black onyx. On this 2015 edition, the base plate of the dial is made of mother-of-pearl and depicts a view of the city of Geneva, its lake, its lighthouse and its fountain. Upon the pearly base, engravers, painters and enamelers reproduce the view. The birds on this edition are also different, as we’re now in front of goldfinches. They are accompanied by their two young, and the group is gathered around an egg in the middle of the nest – an egg that is about to hatch and to reveal a baby bird.
Here comes the second part of this watch: the automat. As we said in the intro, watches and automats are extremely close in the way they work. An automat is guided by mechanical gears and levers. It’s a sort of program made of cams and holes that, when activated, create the movement. In the Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater, the mechanics are able to activate the movement of the left bird, of the small birds and of the head of the right bird, the opening of the egg, the rising of the baby bird from the egg and the deployment of the wings on the right main bird. In order to really understand this, we invite you to take a look at the video. This superb poetic function is activated together with the minute repeater, by actuating the bolt on the left side of the case.
Not only the Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater Geneva edition is animated but it is also a singing watch. The movement hides one of the most complicated mechanism in watchmaking: a minute repeater – and a nice one as the gongs are extremely long, what we call here Cathedral gongs. The movement itself is superb, with a pleasant layout of the bridges and very nice finishes – polished beveled angles by hand, concentric Geneva stripes, circular graining… It comes with a single barrel and thus provides energy for 48 hours only – which considering the presence of an automat and a minute repeater is not that bad.
It comes in a 47mm case made of 18k red gold that measure 18.7mm thick – not a slim watch but you have to consider the automat that is something difficult to made flat. The Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater Geneva will be made in only 8 pieces (like every run of the JD Bird Repeater). The price is reflecting the level of complication and exclusivity of this watch: 416.600 Euros.