The La-Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand has risen to a new mechanical challenge, creating a pocket watch bearing the signature “Jaquet Droz” and entirely conceived around an original 18th century movement, the external parts of which have been lost to time. It’s an invitation to journey back through the centuries and trace the tradition of the finest watchmaking expertise.
The opportunity is one that watchmaking aficionados will rarely encounter in a lifetime. A Jaquet Droz movement dating from the end of the 18th century was the basis of a unique timepiece dreamt up by the firm’s artisans to celebrate the mechanical ingenuity of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, as well as his awareness of beauty and taste for aesthetic refinement.
This antique movement with its crown wheel, or verge, escapement – rediscovered in a private home and handed over to the Jaquet Droz workshops – is a genuine watchmaking classic. The historic escapement was originated in the 13th century and enjoyed an uninterrupted reign over the horological world until the mid-19th century. It is characterized by an escapement wheel that cuts across the verge of the balance perpendicularly, maintaining its beat. The movement, completely dismantled and cleaned, took six months to restore.
The pivot holes were rebushed and the pivots repolished in such a way that the original gilt finish on the plate and bridges was preserved. The reconstruction and replacing of a missing tooth was a real challenge, requiring extraordinary perseverance on the part of the watchmaker. Winding is done just as it was more than three centuries ago, with a key inserted beneath the 2 o’clock index. As there was no original key, this was entirely designed and made in our workshops.
The enamel painters, engravers and jewel-setters of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art devised a new exterior for the timepiece: a fusion of features inspired by watchmaking models from the period, a harmony of the decorative conventions of the châtelaine watch and those of the brand – its secret signature of a four-leaf clover and the combination of Roman numerals (for the hours) and Arabic (for the minutes) on the dial. Hand-painted and finished using a compass, the dial is traversed by two hands endowed with feminine curves. These are hand-crafted from polished, flame-blued steel and include a fleur-de-lys motif. The case, fashioned from 18-carat gold, as was standard practice among watchmakers of the era, is ornamented with rubies and pearls in keeping with the jewelry-making techniques popular during the 18th century. Its reverse side has been decorated with meticulous care. A blue enameled background that took many hours of work in order to achieve a perfectly smooth and uniform hue, paillons of gold delicately positioned and guilloché workings all give this pocket watch its noble credentials.
This elegant, sophisticated timepiece is an ode to the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art and to the infinite capacity of human inventiveness. It was inspired by a legendary past and created for a present in which the power of dreams has more relevance than ever. An exceptional and unique watch, it will take its rightful place in the Jaquet Droz Museum.