Daniel Roth Il Giocatore Veneziano Minute Repeater Automaton Wristwatch

“Il Giocatore Veneziano” is a unique minute repeater automaton wristwatch with hour and minute indications. The hand-painted automaton dice player dial, with double dice, has seven different cycles of 72 combinations resulting in a difficult-to-guess 504 possible falls of the dice. Unique of its kind, the dice player automaton movement is separate from the minute repeater mechanism, so the “Il Giocatore Veneziano” automaton can operate either in tandem to the striking of the minute repeater or separately. The minute repeater mechanism strikes the hours, quarters and minutes to a “Cathedral” resonance.

A first in every sense of the word and taking three years to develop – the entirely handmade Daniel Roth “Il Giocatore Veneziano” dice-playing automaton wristwatch with minute repeater is totally unique.

In the tradition of the early watchmakers and following the style of the exceptional 17th century automaton pocket watches, which depicted scenes from mythology and daily life, Daniel Roth – the specialists in grand complications – decided to develop a unique wristwatch based on the original 17th century automaton concept and in the tradition of Daniel Roth’s watchmaking ancestors –bringing it totally up-to-date with this first-ever true automaton wristwatch.

Inspired by an earlier meeting between Gerald Roden, CEO of Daniel Roth, and the world famous automaton specialist François Junod, the master watchmakers at Daniel Roth visualized an automaton wristwatch which – unlike other so-called “automaton” wristwatches where the movement of the automaton relies totally on the action of the watch mechanism – would be a true automaton with a movement separate from its minute repeater mechanism – making the Daniel Roth “Il Giocatore Veneziano” totally unique.

From its separate mechanical gaming automaton movement – built in the traditional style to guarantee reliability – to its minute repeater mechanism, striking the hours, quarters and minutes – reminding us of the days when, as today, it was essential to “hear” the time – this is a truly traditional, one of a kind timepiece with all the advantages of a thoroughly modern wristwatch.

Entirely handmade in the historical watchmaking centre of the Jura region of Switzerland, this masterpiece complication wristwatch is constructed from 501 parts and incorporates many unique elements.

Automata are complex mechanical devices (generally depicting a moving person or an animal) that are known to have existed as far back in time as the Ming Dynasty. Automaton timepieces came into their own during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, with the period 1860 to 1910 being known as “The Golden Age of Automata”. During this period many small family companies of automata makers thrived in Paris and the Jura region of Switzerland. From their workshops they exported their carefully crafted clockwork automata around the world.

Inspired by the 16th century Italian painter Caravaggio’s work of genius “The Card Players” (also called “The Cardsharps”), the entirely handmade “Il Giocatore Veneziano” embodies the same genius of construction, richness of chiaroscurist colour and sense of chance. Under the direction of its unique, traditionally constructed and totally separate gaming movement, the richly dressed automaton dice player silently and smoothly moves the two goblets held in his hands, juggling the individual dice beneath them.

Once the automaton is activated the seven-point animation of “Il Giocatore Veneziano” – including flickering candle – begins and lasts for around 8 seconds at the end of the animation. By pressing a simple push-piece you can lift the dice player’s arms to see again if you guessed the fall of the dice correctly. If you decide to chance your luck against the dice player, you should be aware that there are seven different possible cycles, each with 72 combinations – resulting in a mind-boggling 504 possible results!

The entirely mechanical hand-wound Daniel Roth Calibre 7300 movement weighs 30g. A complex minute repeater mechanism, it strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on demand via the sliding mechanism on the outer case. With its two cathedral gongs it strikes the hours with a low note, the quarters with both a high and a low note and the minutes with a high note. The round multi-shell minute repeater sound box has been carefully hollowed to enhance a rich striking cathedral resonance as it makes its one-and-a-half turns.

Overcoming the hazards and complexities of separating the movement of the automaton from the minute repeating mechanism was a genuine challenge for the master watchmakers at Daniel Roth and the resulting system is absolutely one-of-a-kind.

In the spirit of the painter Caravaggio, the gold dial of each “Il Giocatore Veneziano” is individually hand painted, dried then kiln-baked. The unique dial depicts a dice player, typical of those found in the affluent bars of 16th century Venice, as he sits at rest or juggles with the every-changing dice – either in tandem to the striking of the minute repeater or separately.

With Daniel Roth’s typical eye for detail, the dial is carefully composed of several superimposed domed layers – giving a three-dimensional effect. The Daniel Roth logo, Roman numerals, indexes, candle, moneybag, face and aluminium moving hands and arms are all richly hand-painted and the coins are in applied gold. The hour and minute hands are in flamed-blued steel.

An impactful piece (46mm x 43mm x 14.10mm), the case of “Il Giocatore Veneziano” is carved from a single block of either white gold or 5N18 red gold. It has the classic double ellipse Daniel Roth polished gold case form with individually soldiered lugs, automaton push-piece controls and minute repeater striking mechanism slide and a sapphire crystal case back.

To better appreciate the exquisitely hand-painted “Il Giocatore Veneziano”, the sapphire crystal on the front face is anti-glare treated on both the inside and outside surfaces of the sapphire – allowing for a totally clear view of “Il Giocatore Veneziano” – in fact such a clear view that you have the feeling that you could touch him.

The underside face – displaying the Calibre 7300 movement – is protected by a sapphire crystal which has also been anti-glare treated on the inside surface only, so as not to react to any grease or perspiration from the skin of the wearer.

“Il Giocatore Veneziano’s” Calibre DR 7300 movement is entirely hand-finished using traditional craft techniques. It is hand-decorated throughout; rigorously Côtes de Genève finished and carries an exceptional 49 jewels. Along with its traditional hand-bevelled edges – an almost lost art which few watch companies are capable of today – its finishing confirms this piece as the product of true master craftsmen working to the highest standards of traditional watchmaking.

“Il Giocatore Veneziano” is produced in 30 unique pieces – each Giocatore is different, individually notated and sports the Daniel Roth logo – along with the same chance to try your luck as you juggle the dice and see if you can win against the genius of the dice player!

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