Jaquet Droz quite rightly decided to present its latest masterpiece outside the periods of the main international and regional watch fairs, because it is already available to purchase (the first one has already been sold at the brand’s Geneva store). I saw this new automaton for the first time at the end of November in Geneva, but don’t expect to be able to get your hands on one in time for Christmas. This exceptional timepiece took three years to develop and requires one full month of work by three artists just to complete the dial! Even if you have the 680,400 Swiss francs spare to buy one, you will still need to wait around six months to get your hands on one of the first models.
The 47mm diameter 18-carat red-gold case of the Tropical Bird repeater has been exquisitely hand engraved. Jaquet Droz Ladies Watch Replica could have shaved around two weeks off the production time by “preparing” the case for engraving as other engravers do (this involves tracing the lines of the design on the case before starting the engraving proper), but instead gave the engraver the freedom to work freehand from scratch. As a result, the case takes around one month to engrave.
Manual engraving of the case © Jaquet Droz
The Tropical Bird repeater has to be both seen and heard up close to appreciate it, which poses a problem for Jaquet Droz, since the brand has 12 flagship stores worldwide, but will only produce eight of these watches (although it could serve additional customers with their personalisation options). “Our stores are very useful for presenting this kind of watch,” admits CEO Christian Lattman, “but we simply don’t have enough watches to go around.” There are seven different mechanical animations on the dial: a waterfall, dragonflies, a peacock, tropical leaves, a toucan and a hummingbird. It is the use of the hummingbird as the centrepiece for the animation that provided the inspiration for the entire tropical theme of its decoration. In real life, the fastest hummingbirds can beat their wings up to 80 times per second; in the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird repeater, the mechanical hummingbird can beat its wings a staggering 40 times per second as part of a sequence of animations that can last up to 12 seconds to correspond with the chimes of the minute repeater mechanism. The hummingbird also bobs up and down as if hovering in the air while feeding off one of the tropical flowers, just like in real life, and can be activated independently of the minute repeater.
The amazing three-dimensional effect of this watch is created by five different levels of hand-engraved and hand-painted decorative elements that are suspended from the base of the dial at its edges (Jaquet Droz has a patent pending for this technique). Despite the thickness added by these elements, plus the use of a minute repeater mechanism with cathedral gongs, the overall height of the Tropical Bird repeater is nearly 4mm less than the Charming Bird model. Furthermore, a new movement, the manually-wound Jaquet Droz calibre RMA89, increases the power reserve to 60 hours (compared with 40 for the Charming Bird) at the same frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
Tropical Bird Repeater © Jaquet Droz
While none of the whimsical high complications voiced in this watch signify any sort of a profit in usefulness to the wearer, which was not the point, of course. Jaquet Droz is not the only manufacturer offering automata in wristwatch type, with other recent examples such as the Van Cleef & Arpels Ronde Des Papillons and the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Pin-Up, however Jaquet Droz goes the excess mile in terms of its decorative arts and complexity of the automata. The Grande Seconde would be to Jaquet Droz what the Lange One would be to A. Lange & Söhne as the brand’s flagship set and signature appearance. The title and company Jaquet Droz were obtained by the Swatch Group at the turn of this millennium, and two decades later, it launched the Grande Seconde, that was motivated by an older Jaquet Droz pocket watch in the 18th century. It is a simple but pleasing design, comprising a subdial that informs the main hour in 12 o’clock along with a bigger overlapping subdial at 6 o’clock that shows the running seconds – hence the name Grande Seconde. Currently, Jaquet Droz has added three new models to its Grande Seconde lineup, all which have ceramic cases and clous de Paris dials using the newest Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Ceramic Clous de Paris watches.The new Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Ceramic comes in 3 variants. There are two that come in a black ceramic case and one that comes from a white ceramic instance. Let us talk about the lone white ceramic version, which is simply referred to as the Grande Seconde Ceramic watch. It includes a pristine white ceramic case that measures 44mm wide and is 12.23mm in height. That tells you that it is intended as a men’s view, even though white ceramic watches – especially with golden accents like this – are usually strongly related to women’s watches.
Christian Lattman sees a clear demand for the exceptional among Jaquet Droz’s customers, who like the density of the colours on this piece. “Because of its size, this is primarily a watch for men,” he says, “but men who are in tune with their emotions and have a poetic side.” Japanese collector Dr. Haruhisa Handa is just such a man and is already a proud owner of the Charming Bird. He just happened to be in Geneva on the day the Tropical Bird repeater was presented and was impressed by what he saw. That six-month waiting period might just get a little bit longer.