Jaquet Droz is well known for its enamel dials and automaton watches. While the brand has returned to the watch scene only recently, it has in fact a longstanding history. In 1784, Pierre Jaquet-Droz opened the first clockmaking manufacture in Geneva, and was a pioneer who introduced the production of timepieces featuring grand complications. And on this note, we have chosen to review the Bird Repeater, an automaton minute repeater with a Atelier’s d’Art dial, highly representative of Jaquet-Droz and what it stands for.
Featured in this year’s Baselworld releases are three updates to the Bird Repeater line. They are namely the Alps View, Lucerne and Geneve editions. The different model names are representative of the different dial backgrounds of different places in Switzerland.
The Bird Repeater models are sized at 47mm and cased in either white gold or rose gold. They are limited to 8 pieces worldwide except for the Lucerne which is a piece unique. The Bird Repeater is as its name suggests a minute repeater. But on top of that, it is an automata, which boasts 8 animations, minuscule yet spectacular – the birds feeding their fledglings, the spreading wings, the flowing water, the hatching egg -a worthy tribute to the humanoid automata created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his son in the 18th century.
While we love the animations, we are also truly impressed by the quality of the dials on these masterpieces. Each dial is the painstaking work of a master craftsman, painter and enameller. The meticulously rendered details, the vivacity of the colors, the attention paid as much to the eyes as to each wisp of straw, is a testament to the illustrative talent of the La Chaux-de-Fonds artisans.
The Bird Repeater Geneva, unites the symbols of the Swiss city on a white mother-of-pearl dial. It creates a miniature Lake Geneva, and captures an image of the famous Jet d’Eau fountain and lighthouse – Le Phare des Pâquis – as well as the silhouette of the Salève, the pre-Alpine peak considered the city’s “balcony.” At the center of the dial, a pair of goldfinches have nested right in the heart of Île Rousseau, the island paradise for birds located precisely at the entrance to the lake. Their plumage is brightly colored as a Fauvist canvas, hand-sculpted in gold.
The Bird Repeater uses a single-barrel manual winding movement that holds a 48 hour power reserve. It beats at 18, 000 v.p.h. Notwithstanding, the movement also powers an impressive automata with 8 animations and a minute repeater with cathedral gongs.
The finishing of the movement is impeccable, with hand finished cotes-de-geneve, and polished angling on all plates. Even the less visible spots like the screw housing and regulater parts on the balance wheel are all nicely polished. The quality of the movement finish is equally matched with the attention to detail on the case engraving (for the Alps View edition).
The watches are priced at an exclusive price point to match its limited numbers. The Geneva is priced at S$752,000, the Lucerne at S$1,019,000, the Alps View at S$835,000 and the Openwork at S $752,000. At this price point there will be debate over the value of the watch, especially since there are a plethora of competing brands who offer serious timepieces at competitive prices; for instance, the big players Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin both offer an impressive art dial collection. Then of course, with regards to the quality of craftsmanship and the super cool automata animations, this Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater has fared exceedingly well to impress us.
|MOVEMENT||Jaquet Droz RMA88, minute repeater hand-winding mechanical movement, single barrel|
|INDICATIONS||Off-centered hours and minutes|
|POWER RESERVE||48 hours|
|CASE||18-carat red gold case Height 18.70 mm Individual limited serial number engraved on the case-back|
|DIAL||18-carat red gold dial Hand-engraved and hand-painted gold dial, black onyx subdial. Hand-engraved and hand-painted birds|
|HANDS||18-carat red gold|
|STRAP||Rolled-edge hand-made black alligator leather|
|BUCKLE||18-carat red gold folding clasp|