Jaquet Droz is no stranger to ancient Chinese art form. As a pioneering designer in Swiss Haute Horlogerie, Jaquet Droz forged very special ties with 18th century China, then under the reign of Emperor Qianlong. This year, with the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute series, the brand ushers in the Lunar New Year with a nature-inspired timepiece dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog 2018.
Inspired by this character from the Chinese Zodiac, the craftsmen in La Chaux-de-Fonds set about creating scenes bringing to life a whimsical Pekingese dog in all its splendor. Also known as the Peking Lion Dog that is named after the capital of China, this ancient breed originated from China and is often liken to Chinese guardian lions because of their appearance.
In the Chinese Zodiac, the character dog symbolizes passion, tradition and honesty. It is also friendly, full of live and deemed as a playful character. In fact, when the Jade Emperor came up with his idea for a race to the Heavenly Gate, the dog was so busy having fun with the butterflies that he only made eleventh place in the Zodiac. Nonetheless, this loyal companion features prominently in its rites and rituals, particularly in 2018, the year of the Earth Dog which will commence on the 16th of February on the Gregorian calendar.
With the combination of ancient art and modern technology, the auspicious new timepieces has been created in honor of the Chinese New Year: the Petite Heure Minute Dog with two designs in this series, and the Petite Heure Minute Relief Dog with two types of precious metal cases. These four new additions to the Ateliers d’Art collection portray the eleventh animal in the Chinese Zodiac, in decorative detail inspired by the style of Chinese painting.
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dog
The two miniature paintings with nature-inspired scenes are presented in a red gold case set with diamonds, 35 mm in diameter, and a red gold case without diamonds, 39 mm in diameter. The first is a celebration of feminine beauty, showing the animal playing with a butterfly on a background of peonies – the “Queen of flowers” – in a fusion of Chinese and Western styles.
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dog (J005003223) with diamonds on case, with a numbered edition of 28 pieces.
This design above features the Ivory Grand Feu enamel dial with miniature painting in a 18-karat red gold case set with 232 diamonds, with weight totalling 1.23 carat.
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dog (J005013219) with a numbered edition of 28 pieces.
Every bit as imperial, the second design, as shown in picture above proudly depicts the friendly canine in a nature-inspired landscape of rocks and plants, ensuring that this timepiece can grace a female or male wrist with equal sophistication. The artistic tradition that we have to thank for these exquisite miniature artworks began in the Age of Enlightenment, and they are full of symbols revered by the Chinese.
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dog
The Petite Heure Minute Relief Dog style, which is also limited to 28 models, conveys a more stylized aesthetic, playing on contrasts between colors and materials. For example, for the disk on the dial, the brand selected Mexico’s “Sonora Sunrise” variety of cuprite, a copper oxide-rich mineral. Its red hues reference Chinese good fortune, weddings and the Spring Festival, as Chinese New Year is known, whilst the decorative gold details pay tribute to the art of bas-relief openwork, reminiscent of billowing clouds and traditional home decorations.
With exceptional finesse, the first version of the Petite Heure Minute Relief Dog contrasts a red gold case with yellow gold engraving, continuing on with an onyx center, atop which are hands matching the case.
The white gold piece that is set with a total of 272 diamonds is embellished with a white mother-of-pearl center and enhanced with the same engraved reliefs. This attention to detail is carried right through to the oscillating weight; even this element celebrates the Asian legend on a gold and cuprite background and works the automatic mechanism of the two models.
The absolute distinction of these unique timepieces comes from the technology used, precision and mechanism. They are the work of exceptional designers and are hand-crafted by master craftsmen who tell a new story with every new watchmaking artwork they produce. Made at the brand’s Ateliers d’Art, these timepieces are like miniature treasuries of good fortune dedicated to 2018, the decidedly passionate-red year of the dog.