The brand is shining the spotlight on its Ateliers d’Art by featuring four variations of its Petite Heure Minute watch that celebrate the sign of the Rat. This animal thus marks the start of a new cycle in the Chinese calendar.
Representing renewal, the Rat is the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac calendar. A symbol of passion and ambition, the sign of the Rat will take center stage in 2020 according to the age-old Chinese calendar. To celebrate this special year, four limited series have been created by Jaquet Droz.
According to legend, the Rat finished first in a great race hosted by the Jade Emperor, the ruler of all gods. The animal is said to have used its wits and speed to finish ahead of animals much more powerful than it, such as the Ox and Tiger, as well as those less agile, such as the Sheep and Rooster. The Rat is said to have won the race – as well as the first place in the zodiac calendar – by crossing a river on the back of the Ox. Just before reaching the shore and the finish line, the Rat jumped off the back of the Ox to win first place.
The Rat has since been synonymous with intelligence, ingenuity and ambition. It is also an animal that is closely associated with wealth: seeing a Rat is an omen of plentiful harvests and represents a sign of prosperity.
In each of these creations, Jaquet Droz has paired the Rat with the pomegranate, which has been regarded as a symbol of life and fertility since ancient times because of the many seeds contained within it. Fertility and continuous renewal are thus the benefits of the pomegranate, the fruit of power and a symbol of life.
Four highly exclusive models have now been revealed which celebrate the pairing of the Rat and the pomegranate. They showcase Jaquet Droz’s Ateliers d’Art, whose work brings naturalistic scenes to life in the true spirit of the brand. The first two models (Petite Heure Minute 35 mm and 39 mm) depict two rats on a bed of leaves dotted with pomegranates, set on a Grand Feu enamel dial. Both variations are produced in red gold, and the 35 mm model is set entirely with diamonds (case and pallet lugs). The case back of both models houses an oscillating weight designed especially for this limited series of 28 pieces. A second scene, engraved in red gold, depicts two rats reveling in a basket of pomegranates, continuing the metaphor of prosperity, abundance and intelligence.
For the 41 mm version, the Petite Heure Minute is available in two other animal-inspired variations that explore the same theme yet feature an onyx dial in a shade of black that is as pure as it is intense. This incredibly deep black serves as the backdrop for a Rat holding a pomegranate in its hands. These two prestigious pieces are crafted in either red gold or white gold (case, rat, hands, and oscillating weight engraving). In addition, the white gold version is set with 272 diamonds that illuminate its ring and pallet lugs with radiant sparkle while creating contrast with the dark intensity of onyx.
For each of these versions set with jewels, pomegranates are symbolized by rubies, which are arranged in a snow setting to depict multiple arils at the 9 o’clock position, while one larger ruby is used for the seed in the Rat’s hands. This combination of precious materials (diamonds, gold and rubies) reinforces the natural qualities of the Rat, a passionate, ambitious, creative animal, and a symbol of prosperity. Each of these creations has been issued in a strictly limited edition of eight pieces, in keeping with the purest tradition of Jaquet Droz’s Numerus Clausus artistic creations.
“Some watches tell time. Some tell a story.”
It’s a project to take art beyond borders and across continents, and the creators are in it for the long haul. That was all it took to convince Jaquet Droz to get on board with Urban Odyssey, the graphic journey of Swiss artists Jeremy Ferrington and Joanne Faivre, aka Muga & Ghost.
Jaquet Droz has always enjoyed close ties with the arts. Almost three centuries ago, the Jaquet-Droz family was working with painters, engravers, gem-setters, and the finest grand feu enamel artists to create works of art exhibited in eminent museums. These artistic crafts are still practiced in its Ateliers in La Chaux-de-Fonds and are a cornerstone of Jaquet Droz creations to this day. More recently, the brand has been a patron to Béjart Ballet Lausanne and the illustrator Stéphanie Barba, while Jaquet Droz exhibitions at the London Science Museum and Hong Kong Science Museum have commissioned and showcased exceptional pieces that are shaping the field of Fine Watchmaking.
Muga & Ghost share common roots with Jaquet Droz, not just in Switzerland but in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where their respective studios and workshops are located. Their hometown is a haven for artists. A UNESCO world heritage site since 2009, La Chaux-de-Fonds is the birthplace of architect Le Corbusier, writer Blaise Cendrars, and motoring legend Louis Chevrolet. The influence of these local personalities can be seen in the city’s art school and numerous museums, including of course the International Watchmaking Museum. La Chaux-de-Fonds continues to build on its legacy as a creative melting pot, producing a pool of local talent that has helped the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art to thrive.
Buoyed by this creative background, Muga & Ghost spent three years traveling the world to spread their art., painting massive murals inspired myths and local legends. The two artists settled down to paint in India, Morocco, Scotland, and Mexico. There, they created exclusive works depicting the founding myths of these nations. Muga & Ghost delved into the cultures of Pondicherry, Fez, Edinburgh, and Guanajuato to create street art that honored their hosts and their respective traditions. A documentary about their journey, Urban Odyssey, was notably selected for the Media Library of Nyon International Film Festival, Visions du Réel. This very human artistic odyssey presents a modern-day mirror to the travels of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, who set out in 1758 to present his creations to the courts of Spain, France, England, and Russia, and as far as China.
Today, Jaquet Droz is a proud patron of the artists Muga & Ghost. Like the watchmaking brand, they are forging their own path, keeping alive the art of travel and the pictorial art, and bringing Swiss expertise to the four corners of the globe. Each of their creations tells a story; the soul of a place or a people. This narrative approach echoes that of Jaquet Droz, whose watches and automatons tell the story of their time, now more than ever.
“Some watches tell time. Some tell a story.”
It was one of the few complications yet to grace the Grande Seconde. Now the monopusher chronograph makes its grand entrance into the Jaquet Droz collection, equipped with an exclusive movement. An inaugural, limited series piece is complemented by three permanent additions to the collection.
Purists consider the chronograph a queen among Fine Watchmaking complications. Although not a rare complication, it remains a challenge to master for many watchmakers. It is also challenging to come up with an original aesthetic since so many variations on the modern wristwatch have already been created.
Jaquet Droz took on this dual constraint in the much-anticipated addition of a chronograph to its Grande Seconde. The specifications came with limitations: an in-house movement to meet the Jaquet Droz standards of watchmaking excellence, readability under all circumstances to ensure the effective measurement of time, and an aesthetic in keeping with the clean lines of the Grande Seconde.
Custom-designed movement for the Grande Seconde Chronograph
The Grande Seconde Chronograph delivers on these prescriptions with aplomb. Its movement, exclusive to Jaquet Droz, uses a column wheel construction in keeping with the great watchmaking tradition of the chronograph. It also incorporates a silicon balance spring that guarantees resistance to magnetic fields and temperature variations. The volumes and proportions of this caliber have been tailored to the highly specific geometry of the Grande Seconde.
True to the legacy of the historic Jaquet Droz collections, the movement continues in the vein of the brand’s Grande Seconde Deadbeat –a genuine Fine Watchmaking complication that was created in the 18th century to literally beat the seconds and thus facilitate the measurement and reading of shorter durations of time. This chronometric focus gave rise some years later to the chronograph as we know it today. The inventor of the deadbeat seconds was none other than Jean-Moyse Pouzait, a friend of the Jaquet-Droz family. The Grande Seconde Chronograph presented today is heir to this chronograph tradition.
Highly limited inaugural edition
Jaquet Droz presents this creation in two versions: a highly limited inaugural edition (numerus clausus of only 88 pieces), along with three permanent additions to the collection.
The red gold limited edition boasts an eye-catching Grand Feu enamel dial. This ivory-colored dial is a tribute in wristwatch form to the earliest pocket watches by Pierre Jaquet-Droz.
The Arabic and Roman numerals on the dial are a striking illustration of the brand’s creative flair: the fine, even strokes of these numerals are faithfully produced using Petit Feu enamel, another delicate firing technique. Together the Grand Feu enamel dial and Petit Feu enamel numerals hold the piece true to its original, centuries-old coloring.
In the purest Fine Watchmaking tradition, Jaquet Droz has adorned the Grande Seconde Chronograph with red gold hour, minute and date hands, while the chronograph seconds and minute hands are in blued steel. The minute and second displays on the chronograph are in blue Petit Feu enamel to maximize the readability of the time. The retrograde date indicated by a red-tipped gold hand also illustrates the intent to enhance the aesthetic with the technical. Thanks to this ingenious mechanism, the perfect figure 8 proportions of the Grande Seconde are kept intact, and the date hand is not impeded by the central shaft of the seconds hand. The monopusher reflects this same desire to preserve the lines of the Grande Seconde: no other push-pieces are needed to stop, start or reset the chronograph, and so the purity of the case remains intact.
Fully formed collection
In complement to this limited edition, Jaquet Droz today presents a trio of more contemporary variations on the timepiece that offer two distinctive features.
First, a steel case, as always measuring 43 mm. The dial is available in a choice of sand-blasted silver, blue or taupe gray, and finished by hand using a dry sand-blasting technique that differs from the wet sand-blasting favored to date. New to the Grande Seconde Chronograph model, this finish accentuates the depth of the graining. The new blue and warm gray tones have never previously been used by Jaquet Droz.
An off-centered dial is the second standout feature of this steel trio. While it has made an appearance in previous Grande Seconde collections, Jaquet Droz gives it a fresh twist here to produce a contemporary, unusual and lively aesthetic for the new chronograph. In complement to the crown now shifted to 4 o’clock, the off-centered dial puts the finishing touches to the originality of these models. In all four versions the oscillating weight is pared down to a minimum to reveal the beauty of the hand-assembled manufacture movement. Together, these variations constitute a new chapter in the history of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde.
The latest Petite Heure Minute.
The timepiece harks back to its signature off-center displays with a single circle for the hours and minutes positioned at 12 o’clock. The two soft-tinted midnight blue hands swinging inside match the hand-made rolled-edged alligator leather strap.
White mother-of-pearl fills in the dial with iridescent gray and white reflections that add to the look of the moon’s nocturnal glow. It is the perfect luminescence for the surprisingly thin 35 mm steel case. Finished with a white gold ring, it is an aesthetic expression of the meticulous attention to detail Jaquet Droz lavishes on its creations. The metals shine with slightly different intensities that complement one another to accent the distinctive properties of the mother-of-pearl on the dial.
This latest Petite Heure Minute Mother-of-Pearl exists in two versions with one featuring a bezel studded with 160 diamonds (0.97 carat). As a final touch for the white gold, steel and mother-of-pearl, the diamonds cast flecks of light on the case’s contours for a piece with rare radiance. This sleekly finished studded model is a classy alternative to the gold and steel version that is more modern and streamlined. Both versions are powered by a self-winding mechanical movement with double barrels that provide up to a 68-hour power reserve.
Today sees the unveiling of two new versions of the Lady 8 Petite, which channel watchmaking elegance into a mere 25 mm of case, while playing with their unique figure 8 design.
The Lady 8 is the exclusively women’s collection by Jaquet Droz, formed around a case in the shape of a figure 8, the symbol of perfection. It’s a geometry dear to Jaquet Droz, also evocative of the Maison’s famous Grande Seconde, whose design is likewise inspired by the soft curves of the emblematic number. In 2018, Jaquet Droz adapted the Lady 8 into the Lady 8 Petite, a precious version that channels the essence of its predecessor into a minimalist diameter.
Cloaked in malachite, the new Lady 8 Petite features a summery, lively, mineral green displayed on a matching leather strap. Malachite is one of the oldest decorative stones used by man and is often associated with luck, wealth and protection. It’s unique for slight variations in hue that stem from the presence of copper in its composition. At the heart of the Lady 8 Petite collection, the unique brilliance of this dial finds its perfect match in an 18-carat red gold case, specially set with 68 diamonds to highlight its bezel. As a finishing touch to this intensely radiant composition, a moving bead of malachite slides and spins between the fingers, like an allegory of time elusive.
By its side comes a second, equally modern variation of the Lady 8 Petite by Jaquet Droz, featuring mother-of-pearl in top billing. The precious material’s iridescence washes over the dial, which is embellished with a delicate railway that marks the hours and minutes. At 12 o’clock, the piece displays an authentic pearl, whose brilliance is reflected in the 41 diamonds of the gem-set dial. For the first time, Jaquet Droz gifts its Lady 8 Petite with a caramel-color double-wrap strap, crafted from calfskin. Its white top-stitching recalls the sparkle of the diamonds, lending this mother-of-pearl version a chic, modern allure.
Located along the bay of Hong Kong, in the heart of the luxurious Harbour City shopping mall, the new Jaquet Droz boutique features an entirely new design, blending tones of black, beige and gray. A special meeting place for collectors and enthusiasts of Fine Watchmaking, who can now discover the Jaquet Droz universe in an atmosphere marked by modernity and elegance, just like its creations.
The new boutique’s inauguration was celebrated on June 14 in the presence of Mr. Christian Lattmann, the brand’s CEO, Mr. Kevin Rollenhagen, Managing Director of The Swatch Group (Hong Kong) Limited, Ms. Sylvia Yau, Vice-President of Jaquet Droz Hong Kong & Macao and Ms. Veronica Chan, General Manager (Retail & Leasing Business Development) of Harbour City Estates Limited. Film actor Moses Chan, friend and enthusiast of the brand, also figured among the prestigious guests.
Over the course of the ceremony, guests had the opportunity to discover the new Jaquet Droz watchmaking releases as well, including the exceptional Magic Lotus Automaton. The brand’s latest creation is an ode to life and its eternal renewal. A new development that was designed and assembled in house, this automaton features an exceptionally long animation, lasting more than four minutes. In this time, a naturalist fresco unfolds with all the grace and serene beauty of a Zen garden.
Boasting a heritage of more than 280 years, Jaquet Droz built its reputation with Chinese royalty, especially with the Qing Dynasty. Indeed, it was Emperor Qianlong himself who was the first to translate the name of the “Jaquet-Droz” family into Mandarin – a translation still used today.
TROPICAL BIRD REPEATER
Jaquet Droz will only manufacture one copy of this exquisite creation at its Ateliers d’Art. The height of luxury in a singular piece.
An original work of art that embodies Jaquet Droz‘s cherished Philosophy of the Unique. The brand gave its Ateliers d’Art and watchmakers full artistic license for this latest Tropical Bird Repeater. The finished product is an incredibly refined new animated timepiece that is heavily influenced by the company’s naturalist legacy without abandoning any of its contemporary artistry. The piece is covered in mother-of-pearl that softly shimmers with pink and a watch dial in full pavé baguette-cut diamond, each one in its own invisible setting. The numerus clausus 01/01 creation is designed for the experienced collector seeking the ultimate in exclusive luxury.
A closer look reveals a tone-on-tone nature scene with an animated hummingbird in motion against an entirely hand-crafted tropical backdrop. The hand-engraved mother-of-pearl dial is used as a canvas to depict a lush wilderness with frolicking peacock, toucan, dragonfly, and hummingbird. In a first for watchmaking, the exclusive animation of the hummingbird flutters its wings 40 times per second. It’s a surprisingly rapid pace, not to mention a serious challenge for the Jaquet Droz watchmakers, who were determined to replicate the hummingbird’s distinctive high-speed wing movements as faithfully as possible.
The peacock to its right fans out then folds up its tail and at 3:00 the toucan pops out from behind the leaves of a Monstera deliciosa plant and opens its beak. At 9:00, three graceful dragonflies dance through the air only adding to the magic at all hours of the day their tiny wings are painted with Super-LumiNova that glows in the dark. There is a total of seven animations that can last over 12 seconds and are capable of up to four different scenarios.
The hummingbird and foliage elements are applied to the dial. This placement puts them in relief for an incredibly realistic effect as if they were actually coming out of the dial. The Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art individually engraved and painted each of these elements by hand. They make a background fresco come alive with a river flowing beneath a waterfall sustaining the lush tropical flora.
This is also the first Tropical Bird Repeater designed with a dial featuring 180 baguette-cut diamonds (total 1.8 carats) that are invisibly set in the center. It glows like a life-giving sun shining in the middle of the naturalist fresco, giving it unique radiance. The red gold minute and hour hands orbiting the sun tie in perfectly with the 47 mm case that is also made of red gold and whose horns side and case middle have been hand-engraved in the Ateliers d’Art. The Jaquet Droz artisans also set the lugs with an unprecedented 36 baguette-cut diamonds (total 2.76 carats).
The only one of its kind in Fine Watchmaking, this animated composition includes a grand watchmaking complication: the minute repeater. It can be set to mark the hour, quarter hour and minute with vibrating chimes set off by hammers inside the case. There are only a handful of brands fortunate enough to use this complex mechanism, which is triggered by a lock on the side of the case. Its Jaquet Droz RMA89 movement is equipped with a virtually silent wheeled regulator. The speed of the minute repeater is regulated by strokes of small leaf springs on the outside. Some of the other innovations in the complication include new rack springs, an extended pause between the quarter-hours and minutes, and a major third to ring on the quarter hour. This piece has an impressive 50-hour power reserve so time and again its collector can experience the magic of the Philosophy of the Unique, a philosophy that Jaquet Droz has been upholding each and every day for 280 years.
Ever the explorer, the Grande Seconde Dual Time presents a stylish and contemporary new look that ushers the centuries-strong aesthetic of the Grande Seconde toward new horizons.
Any travel watch must display dual times zones (local and home time) and the date. Jaquet Droz met this technical prerequisite with panache, in keeping with the immutable aesthetic codes of the Grande Seconde, and so its Dual Time has stood the test of time in accompanying globetrotters on their adventures.
Travel has a historical significance for Jaquet Droz. Some three centuries ago, Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis, and Jean-Frédéric Leschot, crossed seas and continents to share their mechanical marvels with the world. From Switzerland to Spain, and from France to China via England, the Jaquet-Droz family from 1758 onward were pioneers of the international clockmaking trade.
The evolution of a piece as iconic as the Grande Seconde Dual Time therefore has a particular significance for the heritage of the brand. In this latest version, the aesthetic has been thoroughly revised. Starting with the same self-winding mechanical caliber (with silicon balance spring and pallet lugs) Jaquet Droz finds a new home for its travel complication, nestled in the bottom half of the Grande Seconde’s signature figure 8 dial. At its heart the continents are seen flat from the North Pole in an azimuthal projection. The powdery finish chosen by the brand brings the modern-day mappemonde to life with the realism and volume of the Earth’s texture. The continents are depicted on a mirror polished backdrop in a choice of black or anthracite.
In another standout new feature of this new Dual Time collection, the 24-hour home time display is split into two distinct 12-hour segments: white for daytime and black for night, making the reading of the home time more immediate and intuitive. The local time, on the top half of the Grande Seconde dial, is regulated by jumping an hour, which makes it quicker to set the time on arrival at the destination. The date adjusts automatically to this change, and is indicated by a red-tipped hand that sweeps around a circular satin-finish applied ring.
Jaquet Droz today unveils four versions of the Grande Seconde Dual Time that display this new aesthetic. Two steel case versions (onyx or silvery opaline dial) present a contemporary minimalist look that can be worn by travelers for any occasion, while two red gold versions (ivory or black Grand Feu enamel dial) retain the classic Jaquet Droz heritage –a new venture to add to the family saga that dates back more than 280 years.
“Some watches tell time. Some tell a story.”
A refined piece of timeless elegance, this limited edition Lady 8 Petite is an ode to romance in red: the color of passion.
Dainty, discreet and delicately feminine, the Lady 8 Petite by Jaquet Droz is an ideal showcase for the unique geometric crystal structure of the mineral.
Issued in a limited series (Numerus Clausus of 28 pieces), the signature figure 8 dial reveals a ruby heart topped with a ruby ball bearing that swivels freely, slipping through the fingers like passing time. A bezel set with 68 diamonds coils around this gleaming fairytale of a timepiece and is complemented by a buckle set with 23 diamonds.
This 25 mm piece is powered by a Jaquet Droz self-winding movement. The red gold oscillating mass is engraved with a wave pattern that echoes the romance of its beating heart.
Christian Lattmann was appointed Vice President, head of product management, in addition to his position at Breguet, he became in 2009 a member of Jaquet Droz’s steering committee.
In 2012, he became the Executive Vice President, appointed by Mr. Marc Hayek, President of Breguet, Blancpain, and Jaquet Droz. In 2016, Christian Lattmann left his position at Breguet to devote all of his time to the Jaquet Droz brand where he was appointed CEO.
We discussed, on location, at the Jaquet Droz booth in Baselworld 2018, the brand’s legacy and heritage, creativity, future strategies, and their stunning novelties.
Click now to play, the interview of the man, who is at the head of one of the oldest Swiss watchmaking brands in the world.
Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux