Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater
Are you the ultimate Jaquet Droz?
On Horbiter®'s pages, we can boast the biggest collection of articles about Jaquet Droz and also the biggest production of articles with live pics ever released. I am not saying that to show off, but because I want to highlight how much the haute-horlogerie creations of this eclectic manufacturer is part of our press activities. Being so familiar with a brand – as we clearly showed you in one of our most successful videos so far – helps you fully understand the brand itself and the evolution that this manufacture is currently going through. It is a never-ending flow of creative ideas based on the pillars of the manufacturer (the concept of automaton and that of decorative art that constantly enhance the purest and most traditional movement production of this brand).
From an external perspective – but I have to say that I also had the very same impression when I started writing about Jaquet Droz – it seemed as if the company wanted to overdo itself when it tried to diversify for example its Grande Seconde collection (quite a common route that most of the manufacturers embark on when they realize that one of their collections is particularly successful). However, every Grande Seconde watch is a standalone watch; the result of a single thought that started off from the original source of inspiration and reached a status of self-development. The same approach is used by Jaquet Droz when crafting every new timepiece.
From an historical point of view, Jaquet Droz can also boast a competitive advantage if compared to other manufacturers; the ability to perfectly blend together the three above-mentioned factors like no-one else is able to do. You will always find famous manufacturers that are able to come up with exceptional complicated calibres, those manufacturers can count on good artisans, who can craft prestigious decorations, but no other manufacturer will ever be able to boast the same know-how, skills and legacy in the field of automata that Jaquet Droz can count on. It is the brand's credibility, its experience and its pedigree that make this company what it is today; a company that, at the end of the 18th century, produced the first "calculators" in history.
Jaquet Droz can also count on a fourth pillar; being able to represent nature in such a romantic way that it led me to fall in love with a type of art every watch-making fan wouldn't be able to grasp at first sight as they are mainly focussing on the perfect working of mechanics and features; a characteristic that adds a “dream” factor that even the best of calibers wouldn't be able to convey at this level. The Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater is the summary of the above-mentioned ingredients, as in every timepiece that represents the arrival point; it is extremely exclusive if you consider that it was only crafted in eight unique pieces. Jaquet Droz synthesized all of its savoir-faire; it built a new calibre (the Jaquet Droz RMA 89) that improved the performance of the previous one.
Cathedral-sound hours, quarters and minutes have been taken to a new quality level also from the point of view of sound intensity; something that, unfortunately, we weren't able to fully put to test as we couldn't experience this timepiece “live”. The power-reserve was raised from 48 hours to 60 hours; it might not sound like a dramatic improvement, but it is actually a 25% increase in power-reserve. The current Bird Repeater represents an exceptional comparison starting point to understand how the new Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater has globally evolved.
Without spending too much time on describing the basic characteristics of this timepiece (that include a balance wheel now vibrating at an oscillating frequency of 3,5Hz rather than 2,5Hz), it is quite interesting to understand the thought that propels the crafting of a Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater's dial. The scenery (that clearly reminds us of the typical panoramas painted by Gauguin) represents a tropical garden, where all the decorative elements aren't sitting on one side only, but they are meticulously spread around on the totality of the mother-of-pearl dial. The objects seem smaller than before and by looking at the pics, I get the feeling that Jaquet Droz worked on the miniaturization of the animations and at their spreading on, at least, the three quarters of the dial by exploiting its decorative skills and by emphasizing the colours of this Eden garden.
At 9 o'clock is a humming bird flying towards a strelitzia shrub while fluttering its wings up to forty times per second, thus “invading” the hours dial and making this watch appear as if its sectors were divided between flora and fauna. At a lower level is a peacock showing its plumage and the toucan located at 3 o'clock opens its beak, while emerging from the foliage. On the left hand side, at 9 o’clock, three winged dragonflies glow in the dark as they are filled with SuperLuminova®. There is a total of 7 animations that guarantee up to 4 possible natural sceneries and an incredible fusion with the most romantic and appreciated complication available in the world of watch-making, the most apt (thanks to its tones), to tell us everything about the natural, playful and artistic looks of the dial.
If you rotate the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater to behold its technical side, you will face the two small hammers in full view located on the lower side and the balance wheel with its “col de cygne” adjustment system for the manually-wound movement. When you rotate the watch, you will also notice the “animalier" decoration on the case-back; another new element introduced by Jaquet Droz on the Tropical Bird Repeater and a way used to make even more striking the fusion between pure watch-making and the decorative art of the “Les Ateliers d'Art”. Among the 7 animations is also one with a waterfall, where the “apparent” movement is guaranteed by a rotating disc located on the left side of the dial. You should keep in mind that this calibre wasn't therefore designed to exclusively move the complication of the Minutes Repetition, but also all the animations available and to put up with the different execution paces ranging from the extremely quick movement of the humming bird's fluttering wings to the slow movement of the peacock showing its plumage; all these functions require a very high-level of balancing and mechanics.
From the decorative point view, the challenge was quite similar to the technical one as some of the elements were applied to the dial, while other quite petite and refined decorations are floating in the air; something we already witnessed and appreciated on the Loving Butterfly Automaton. Each one of the 8 pieces of the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater retails at CHF 680,400; the price of a masterpiece and, for the rich buyers, who will be able to afford it (all the pieces have been probably sold out already, while I am typing this article), this timepiece doesn’t simply represent yet another complicated watch or the crazy bid at an auction, but rather a masterpiece that could offer them a multi-sensory experience.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®