Jaquet Droz, the La-Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand creates a pocket watch entirely conceived around an original 18th century movement, the external parts of which have been lost to time.
A Jaquet Droz movement dating from the end of the 18th century was the basis of a unique timepiece dreamt up by the firm’s artisans to celebrate the mechanical ingenuity of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, as well as his awareness of beauty and taste for aesthetic refinement.
This antique movement with its crown wheel, or verge, escapement – rediscovered in a private home and handed over to the Jaquet Droz workshops – is a genuine watchmaking classic. The historic escapement was originated in the 13th century and enjoyed an uninterrupted reign over the horological world until the mid-19th century. It is characterized by an escapement wheel that cuts across the verge of the balance perpendicularly, maintaining its beat. The movement, completely dismantled and cleaned, took six months to restore.
The pivot holes were rebrushed and the pivots repolished in such a way that the original gilt finish on the plate and bridges was preserved. The reconstruction and replacing of a missing tooth was a real challenge, requiring extraordinary perseverance on the part of the watchmaker. Winding is done just as it was more than three centuries ago, with a key inserted beneath the 2 o’clock index. As there was no original key, this was entirely designed and made in Jaquet Droz workshops.
The enamel painters, engravers and jewel-setters of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art devised a new exterior for the timepiece: a fusion of features inspired by watchmaking models from the period, a harmony of the decorative conventions of the châtelaine watch and those of the brand – its secret signature of a four-leaf clover and the combination of Roman numerals (for the hours) and Arabic (for the minutes) on the dial. Hand-painted and finished using a compass, the dial is traversed by two hands endowed with feminine curves. These are hand-crafted from polished, flame-blued steel and include a fleur-de-lys motif.
The case, fashioned from 18-carat gold, as was standard practice among watchmakers of the era, is ornamented with rubies and pearls in keeping with the jewellery-making techniques popular during the 18th century. Its reverse side has been decorated with meticulous care. A blue enameled background that took many hours of work in order to achieve a perfectly smooth and uniform hue, paillons of gold delicately positioned and guilloché workings all give this pocket watch its noble credentials.
This elegant, sophisticated timepiece is an ode to the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art and to the infinite capacity of human inventiveness. It was inspired by a legendary past and created for a present in which the power of dreams has more relevance than ever. An exceptional and unique watch, it will take its rightful place in the Jaquet Droz Museum.
Jaquet Droz Museum Pocket Watch, Unique Piece
Jaquet-Droz movement with balance cock dating from 1790
Crown-wheel escapement, fuse
Hours and minutes
Special 18-carat gold alloy
Blue, paillonné-enameled and guilloché back
Diameter 61.76 mm, height 24 mm
Gem-set bezel and back
White Grand Feu enameled, dome-shaped, on a copper base
Roman numerals with Arabic numerals at the quarters
JD signature in black Grand Feu enamel
Hours and minutes with curved contours, “fleur-de-lys” type
Winding and setting key
JD cloverleaf shape
Stainless steel and special 18-carat gold alloy