Jaquet Droz releases another interpretation of its automaton, “Loving Butterfly,” this time with a dial made from a rare form of prehistoric petrified wood, a warm autumnal stage for the fascinating performance that takes place under the sapphire crystal. Honouring Jaquet Droz’s spellbinding automata of the past, a mechanism allows the wings of the butterfly to flutter and the wheels of the chariot to turn. Loving Butterfly was released in 2017, an exquisite automaton depicting a chubby cherub on a chariot drawn through an enchanted forest on the wings of a butterfly. Since 2017, the Loving Butterfly has appeared with opal, onyx, black mother-of-pearl, aventurine and even meteorite dials (JD is renowned for its use of unusual stones). This latest iteration features a mineral dial made of Chinchilla Red, a wood that was petrified 150 million years ago in the forests of Australia.
Jaquet Droz was born in 1721 on a farm in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He developed a unique talent for clockmaking and automata, those marvellous miniature mechanical creations that fascinated the courts of Europe and China. His first encounter with royalty occurred in Spain where he presented King Ferdinand VI with his clocks and a particularly fascinating repeater clock that would strike without manual intervention. The Spanish court bought everything he had and he returned to Switzerland in 1759 with enough money to set up his own workshop and start producing the automata that earned him fame as far abroad as China.
A part of Swatch Group since 2000, Jaquet Droz has a watch collection entirely dedicated to automata alongside refined collections like the Grande Seconde based on a 1785 pocket watch. The Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art was opened in 2011, a specialised workshop where the historic art of miniature painting, engraving, carving and all sorts of enamelling are practised by master craftsmen.
Chinchilla Red was formed 150 million years ago when fir trees were swept away by volcanic lava. The trees were literally turned to stone and all the material replaced with minerals. An extremely rare and dense mineral, it takes countless hours of manual work to smooth the surface of this petrified wood. Chinchilla Red is so rare that a quick Google search directs you to the fuzzy sort of pet chinchillas with red eyes. Specimens of this petrified wood, like the ones used on the dial of Loving Butterfly, still preserve the outline of tree rings and reveals reds, browns and amber.
Poetry in Motion
Like previous versions, the Loving Butterfly is housed in a 43mm 18k red gold case with a height of 16.63mm. The case is polished and the trigger mechanism for the automaton is discreetly located in the crown. The warmth of red gold is highlighted with the warm colour of the petrified wood background. The delightful scenery on the dial is entirely carved in red gold by Jaquet Droz’s master craftsmen. You can see the cherub on his chariot holding the reins of the butterfly as he rides through the gold woods. The inspiration of this particular scene was taken from a 1774 sketch performed by The Draughtsman, one of Jaquet Droz atelier’s most famous humanoid automata. A metaphor for the labours of love, the chariot symbolises victory and the cherub represents Cupid.
See below the video we made of one of the previous versions of the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton:
The rich details of the hand-engraved scenery are astonishing; the butterfly’s antenna, for example, are just 0.2mm thick, and everything is beautifully handcrafted in gold with different finishes. You can see how the cherub’s chariot and the round markings on the tip of the butterfly’s wings are polished while other parts are brushed or engraved with grooves to emulate the bark of a tree trunk.
By activating the pusher, the scenery suddenly comes alive: the butterfly flaps its wings, practically grazing the sapphire crystal and the wheels on the chariot turn. A curious detail is that as the wheel turns, not all the spokes rotate recreating an optical illusion that Pierre Jaquet Droz (son) used nearly 300 years ago. The exclusive automaton mechanism, which took three years to develop, allows the butterfly’s wing to flutter up to 300 times over a period of two minutes and the chariot’s wheel to spin. With all the animation on the dial, it’s easy to forget that Loving Butterfly is a watch – even the black onyx off-centred hours and minutes dial (with hand-engraved 18k red gold appliques and hands) is artfully integrated into the scenery.
Loving Butterly is powered by the self-winding JD2653 AT1 calibre with a silicon balance spring and pallets and an automaton mechanism which required three years of development. This twin-barrel movement offers a 68-hour power reserve for the time mechanism. The automaton is driven by its own power source with the flow regulated by a governor.
The winding of the time mechanism is performed by turning the crown clockwise, while the winding of the automaton mechanism is performed counterclockwise. The calibre JD2653 AT1, revealed underneath a sapphire crystal glass, is finished with Cotes de Genève radiating from the balance wheel. The oscillating rotor is superb, especially its spokes shaped like the chariot wheel.
The Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton “Chinchilla Red” Dial is presented with a black alligator strap and an 18k red gold folding clasp. It is a limited edition of 28 watches and will be priced at about CHF 130,000 (to be confirmed).
For more details, please visit jaquet-droz.com.