Pierre Jaquet-Droz had an unusual talent; he could make the most complicated, real-life looking automatons. These dolls performed extraordinary feats, such as drawing a face down to the last detail or write a letter with an ink pen, perfectly legible. Today that legacy still lives on in the company that bears its name, but now in wristwatches, and the latest is the Loving Butterfly Automaton.
Creating an automaton in the confinements of a wristwatch is difficult, as it is greatly limited not only by the space that is available but also the amount of power that can be dedicated to the automaton. The inspiration for this watch came from a drawing made by Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz, the son of Pierre, of a chariot pulled by a butterfly.
To bring this creation to life on a watch Jaquet-Droz started with a black dial made from Onyx. This stone is cut really thin, and polished, to get that deep black luster, which forms the perfect background for the automaton and the rest of the scenery, which is crafted from 18-karat red gold.
The level of detail is extraordinary, and even when the butterfly wouldn’t move at all, this watch can only be considered as a masterpiece. The trees and leaves are all hand sculpted, as it the chariot, rider and, of course, the butterfly. When pressing the crown, the butterfly starts to flap its wings, and the chariot wheel starts to turn. This lasts for about two minutes, when fully wound, or until the pusher in the crown is pressed again.
The movement is a clever construction, as it separated the automaton function from the timekeeping. This allows for a far more precise movement, as there are no fluctuations in the amplitude when the automaton is activated. Jaquet-Droz dedicates two main-spring barrels to the movement, giving it a generous power reserve of 68 hours, as well as fitting it with a silicon balance spring and pallet horns. These mainspring barrels are wound by a 22-karat red gold oscillating weight. Another mainspring barrel is dedicated to the automaton and is manually wound by the crown. Not only has this as an advantage that it doesn’t interfere with the timekeeping performance of the watch, but it also allows the owner to activate the complication as often as he/she wants, as it does not depend on the oscillating weight to provide it with enough power again.
With a diameter of 43mm and a height of 16.63 mm, Jaquet-Droz kept the Loving Butterfly Automaton in a wearable size. That is perhaps the biggest treat of this watch, as it allows you to enjoy this little private delight not only whenever you want, but also wherever you go!