The Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton watch hands-on
Beside its century-long-history that tells us about the savoir-faire of a manufactory able to craft automatons, there is something else that makes the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton quite original and unique; this watch links together the missing dots between the classic Jaquet Droz collections, its personal interpretation of the big collections, and the chapter in its history devoted to automatons. These are two worlds that, until today, were quite separated from each other.
Time, love, and nature are told with romanticism on this timepiece; if you take a look at the dial, you will immediately experience an overwhelming sense of animation, even when the mechanism that I will tell you about later on in this article is not in full action. The forest located around the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds seems to come to life around the hours and minutes counters of a Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute; the basis that the brand used to develop its Loving Butterfly Automaton.
The Draughtsman - The automaton, created in 1775, that inspired the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton.
The source of inspiration for the animation of the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton can only be described as “incredible”; when I first heard the story behind this animation concept, I thought I had misheard something, but then I read the press release and the same content on the official website of the brand for at least three times in a row and realized it was all true.
I even browsed the Internet to look for related videos and found out that, from 1773 on wards, Pierre-Jaquet Droz crafted three automaton-androids, namely The Draughtsman, The Writer, The Musician the first of whom could draw using a pen and that happened at a time when nothing like that was around. Pierre-Jaquet Droz crafted a calculator, probably the very first one (s) in history that could code information in a logical and ordered way, which could both write and draw. All this is documented in various videos, including one where the automaton The Writer is being shown after its restoration, that took place during a press conference held by Jaquet Droz in 2011. Above is instead a Corporate movie where all the three of them are illustrated, The Draughtsman included, starting from minute 4:05.
Among the many drawings created by the automaton, the manufacturer decided to reproduce the drawing of a little angel carried by a butterfly through the forest of La Chaux-de-Fonds. The crafting of the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton is the summary of three different experiences of this Swiss manufacturing company; precision mechanics, the crafting of automatons, and the strong artisanal tradition used for decorating, enameling, and etching. Many of these artisanal skills have gone often lost everywhere else, but Jaquet Droz has always stayed loyal to tradition.
If you press the button that is coaxial to the crown, the butterfly starts moving and pulling the chariot, whose wheels start rotating. Mobile spokes mix with fixed spokes on the wheels, so that the final result is a gyroscopic effect that enhances the feeling of movement of the chariot. The speed of the movement of the butterfly’s wings is delicate and precise with no jerky or sudden motion. This is a movement that guarantees up to 2.5 wing beats per second, two entire minutes when the power-reserve is at its peak (three winding barrels allow the animation to last for such a long time).
If the characteristics of the dials crafted by Jaquet Droz are quite famous, the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton has been by the way released in two versions; one version is in black onyx on an 18 karat red gold case, while the second version is in white gold, with the dial made of black mother of pearl from Polynesia, the Jaquet Droz's crafting skills of all the decorative elements is quite new to the general public in most cases and is hand-made by the Jaquet Droz’s artisans; all the decorative elements on the dial are carefully hand-crafted and hand-assembled in the Jaquet Droz’s laboratories.
To give you a simple idea of this manufacturing company’s savoir-faire, simply remember that the trees are only 0,2mm thick! The final aesthetic (and function-related) touch to this complication is given by the oscillating mass in red or white gold of the automatic caliber that features the same half-circle shape as the wheel of the little angel’s chariot. This timepiece is a triumph of details, ranging from the crafting of the trees to that of the leaves, all the way to the etching located at the base of the little angel’s chariot. Its Price? 130'800€.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®