A Bird's Eye ViewBy Bhanu Chopra
Three Centuries of Innovation
300 years ago, we had yet to invent the telegraph and the steam engine was still decades away. Benjamin Franklin had not begun his fascination with the infant science of electricity. Humanity had yet to create the first bicycle, but Jaquet Droz was making complex mechanical timepieces and automatons. The first timepieces from the Jaquet-Droz family of artists and inventors entered the market in 1738, including innovative doll automata that are still functional and on display at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
To celebrate the momentous anniversary of three centuries of watchmaking, Jaquet Droz is releasing a new model of their iconic Bird Repeater from 2012.
The charming watch is a showcase of manufacture’s skill with automata as a pair of hand-engraved robins feed newly hatched chicks and as a third baby bird hatches from its egg as part of the incredible animation. A river moves through the background as part of the intricate scene. Each piece of the elaborate design is engraved and painted by hand.
The birds are nestled in a green valley teeming with life and color that is based on the flora and fauna found in La Chaux-de-Fonds, birthplace of founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz. A farmhouse can be seen in the background, which is an exact replica of the farmhouse where Jaquet-Droz was born.
The elaborate scene on the white mother-of-pearl dial is a striking contrast against the clean off-centered black onyx time dial featuring slender and elegant red gold hands and 18K red gold appliques. A minute repeater, a mechanism respected for its complexity in watchmaking circles, is activated by a slider on the case. This minute repeater corresponds to the automata mechanicals that bring the family of robins and the river to life and is voiced by Cathedral Gongs.
The case back reveals the hand-wound RMA88 movement with its hand polished bevels, concentric Geneva stripes, and circular graining. The Bird Repeater 300th-Anniversary Edition is limited to eight pieces and is paired with a black alligator strap.
Movement: In House hand-wound RMA88, single barrel, 69 jewels, 18,000 v.p.h, 48 hours power reserve
Functions: Hour, minute and minute repeater. Mechanical automaton with animation featuring birds, hatching egg, and river.
Case: 47 mm x 18.70 mm, 18K red gold
Strap: Hand-made black alligator strap with 18K red gold folding clasp
Price: USD 525,000
Availability: Limited Edition of 8 pieces