Jaquet Droz turns to its Petite Heure Minute collection as a canvas for this charming interpretation of a hummingbird. Accustomed as we are to seeing the flagship Grande Seconde interpreted in countless guises and complications, the Petite Heure Minute has generally stayed on course with its small off-centred hour and minutes dial at noon and exquisite backgrounds made of exotic minerals like cuprite and rare rocks like pink astorite. The Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Hummingbird is the latest creation to join the collection. Like the first Smalta Clara tiger models of 2018, it showcases an exquisite plique-á-jour enamel dial.
This particular vitreous enamelling technique, loosely translated as ‘letting in daylight’, is reminiscent of stained glass windows and is said to have originated in the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century AD. Plique-à-jour (smalta clara in Italian) is considered the most challenging and time-consuming of all enamelling techniques and was particularly popular during the Art Nouveau period in the elaboration of delicate jewellery pieces. The difference between plique-à-jour and cloisonné enamelling is that although the enamel is applied inside individual gold wire cells, there is no backing in the final product so that light can traverse the translucent enamel. At Jaquet Droz, the process starts with the creation of 18k white gold partitions of different shapes and sizes to recreate the outlines of a hummingbird. Each partition is filled with different shades of enamel before undergoing successive firings in the kiln. Like all enamel techniques, the heat gives the enamel its colour and density, but there is always the risk of breakage, blistering or shattering.
The layout of the Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara differs slightly from the regular models since the small white mother-of-pearl hour and minutes disc has been moved to the 2 o’clock position to give the hummingbird as much dial space as possible. The black beak of the hummingbird rests gently on the disc while its head and feathers swirl around the remaining space on the dial.
Like other Petite Heure Minute models, the case measures 35mm and has a height of 10.83mm; unlike other models in the family, though, this Smalta Clara Hummingbird edition features the crown at 2 o’clock, in line with the sub-dial. The bezel and lugs of the luxurious 18k red gold case are set with 100 diamonds that are graduated in size to match the contours of the tapered lugs. Echoing the case material, the circular frame of the hours and minutes sub-dial and the hands are also made of red gold.
What is truly remarkable about this model is that the reverse side reveals the spectacular colours of the hummingbird and allows the light to penetrate the enamel. I’m not sure how well this works with the watch on your wrist, but holding it up to the light is like admiring a beautiful stained glass window.
Powered by calibre 6150, the brand’s smallest automatic movement with a silicon balance spring, pallet horns and a platinum oscillating weight, the view of the movement is a testament to its extreme miniaturisation. The platinum oscillating weight has an 18k red gold appliqué engraved with the plumage of a hummingbird. Beating at 21,600vph, the automatic movement offers a power reserve of 38 hours.
Limited to just eight pieces, the charming Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Hummingbird comes with a hand-embroidered green satin strap and an 18k red gold ardillon buckle. The serial number is engraved on the oscillating weight, and the price is available upon request.
For more information, please consult Jaquet Droz.