Skip to Content

Complicated Curiosities

Sponsored by Tourbillon 09.30.2016

In the 18th century, a gifted Swiss craftsman named Pierre Jaquet-Droz astonished the world with his
intricately decorated mechanical birds and “automata” — realistic, animated dolls. Yet he was already known for clock making and watchmaking; specifically, the dazzling delights from the company that bears his name.  

It may seem a curious twist of history, but the timepieces of Jaquet Droz still bear the evidence of Pierre’s passion for elaborate automata and aesthetic refinement. On the watches, birds twitter, a flower opens. In the 18th century, Jaquet Droz watch masters were pioneers in the luxury arts; clients included Qianlong, the fifth emperor of the Qing dynasty, who was fascinated by the fusion of art and Western automata. The watches increased in renown as their artisanal mastery evolved, introducing paillons (microscopically thin gold foils used in enameling and gilding), painted motifs, sculpting and engraving. The company today operates from a modern atelier in the heart of Switzerland’s Jura Mountains, but its tradition has remained essentially unchanged for three centuries: Limited in number and decorated with extraordinary enameling, the watches are as exquisite as they are accurate.

Next-generation technology now underlies each Jaquet Droz timepiece, but the artistry has only become more exactingly refined. For this reason, the watches can take up to six months to produce, particularly for custom work. For the owner, the resulting object of beauty and precision is always well worth the wait.


Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel

The iconic Grande Seconde is inspired by the pocket watch designed by Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1784. Starring a striking Grande Feu ivory enamel dial, the piece is an exercise in restrained elegance.  


Grande Seconde Off-Centered Onyx

A black onyx mineral stone dial shows off 18-karat white gold rings, with an off-centered winding crown at 4 o’clock that balances history with modernity.


Grande Seconde Dual Time Silver

Read the local time on the upper dial of an elegant silver opaline face and track seconds, date and reference time on the lower.  


Petite Heure Minute Relief Seasons

Rareartistry marks the Ateliers d'Art collections. Here, the tips of the bird’s wings of this hand-engraved, hand-painted mother-of-pearl dial encased in 18-karat red gold are executed in multiple layers to create the illusion of flight.


The Charming Bird

The miniature singing bird on its sapphire dial, activated by the push of a button, is the delight of this sophisticated watch, winner of the 2015 Mechanical Exception Watch Prize Award at Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève.


Lady 8 Flower

This timepiece, with its red gold guilloche dial and butterfly appliqué in Grand Feu enamel, takes the sensual curves of the Lady 8 design. A push-button mechanism opens the lotus flower and reveals its diamond heart.


The Eclipse

A member of the elegant and complex Astrale collection, The Eclipse, with its deep aventurine or silver opaline dial, shows off special complications: indication of the moon phases, along with day, month and date.  


Grande Seconde SW Tourbillon

Rugged modernity meets Grande Seconde tradition in the Grande Seconde SW collection. Here, a self-winding tourbillon complication in an 18-karat red gold case sits on a masculine black rubberized dial.


Petite Heure Minute Thousand Year Lights

Jaquet Droz artists took inspiration from the ancient Korean craft of Najeon-chilgi — which re-emerges on black lacquer with a hand-engraved and hand-painted mother-of-pearl dial.


Grande Seconde Deadbeat

This rare complication is a masterpiece of precision; each deadbeat second makes a small jump, considered the predecessor of the chronograph. The Grand Feu enamel dial displays hours, large central deadbeat displays seconds and retrograde displays date.


Petite Heure Minute Aventurine

A self-winding mechanical movement and shimmering aventurine dial fuse feminine refinement with mechanical expertise in a small case. The stainless steel case is also available encircled in diamonds.

To view the extraordinary pieces from Jaquet Droz, please visit a Tourbillon Boutique.  Private appointments are available.