Jaquet Droz: Loving Butterfly Automaton14 April 2017
This new creation, named the “Loving Butterfly Automaton,” tells a story, that of genius watchmaker, Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz, who, 242 years ago, created an android automaton delivering breathtaking sketches – including a cherub seated on a chariot drawn by a butterfly, celebrating love and passion. It is the story of the Jaquet Droz designers, craftsmen and watchmakers who decided to draw inspiration from this sketch for contemporary designs, first as painted enamel, then as sculpture, and today as an automaton watch… And the story of watchmakers who develop and painstakingly assemble an exclusive mechanism, of passionate craftsmen who sculpt and engrave each component of this animated piece of art by hand… The story of a brand that never ceases to astonish.
As part of the prestigious collection of Jaquet Droz automaton watches the Loving Butterfly Automaton is a rare feat of technical and aesthetic prowess. The famous dial of the Petite Heure Minute has here been adapted as a naturalistic theater stage. One can imagine the curtain rising – the show begins at the heart of a delicate forest, a nod to the landscapes of the La Chaux-de-Fonds region. Enter the cherub and the butterfly, a cue from the Draughtsman’s sketch, the automaton that fascinated the whole of Europe in the 18th century. The same emotion is sparked today when, with just one push on the crown button, a world of poetry comes to life under the dial’s crystal. With grace and delicacy, the butterfly comes to life, pulling behind it a cherub in an animated chariot. The chariot’s wheel begins to turn in an exquisite optical illusion made possible by the combination of fixed and mobile spokes, a fabulous play of movements illustrating a technique well-known to automaton designers.
Everything is achieved in the tiniest details. Forty hand-engraved parts in white or red gold are assembled manually with incredible meticulousness, from the small Cupid’s arms and defiant face, to the infinitely fragile legs and antennae of the butterfly. The trees, only 0.2 millimeters thick, are individually driven like the hands of a watch, bringing watchmaking expertise to art: an innovative, patent-pending technique. The fine gold volumes contrast with the dial in onyx or Polynesian black mother-of-pearl, making the magic of this timeless scene still more hypnotic.
The exclusive automaton mechanism, for which two patents are also pending, took three years to develop. The power reserve, maintained with three barrels manually wound using the crown, allows the butterfly to delicately flutter its wings 300 times over a period of approximately two minutes. Positioned side-on, the realistic effect of the scene is even more captivating.
The hour/minute movement is equipped with an oscillating mass in 22-carat gold, featuring the pattern of the chariot’s wheel, a symbol of life. All of the codes of luxury watchmaking are present in the two models, both 43 mm in diameter, suffused with the light of gold and placed on a rolled-edge hand-made alligator leather strap. A delight to the eye and reserved for true connoisseurs, each version has a limited edition of only 28 pieces and is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity signed by the craftsmen of Jaquet Droz. (€.130.800)