The House of Jaquet Droz knows as much about traveling and the performing arts as it does about timekeeping. It was back in 1758 that Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his son Henri-Louis presented their clocks to the Spanish Royal Court, and in 1773 their humanoid automata, first in La-Chaux-de-Fonds and then to all the Royal Courts of Europe, capturing attention and admiration with creations noted as much for their beauty and charm as their exceptional mechanical qualities.
Three of their automata – the Writer, the Draughtsman and the Musician – are still in action today in the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Neuchâtel, for the delight of modern-day visitors fascinated by their endearing and precise movements actioned by cams: — dipping a feather in the ink well before writing, blowing the dust off the lead of a pencil while drawing, or touching the keys of an organ to make the sounds we hear before taking a small bow — all following their movements with their eyes.
Acquired in the year 2000 by the Swatch Group, the brand continues to enchant with its unique designs and exceptional techniques. The launch of the Grande Seconde in 2002, inspired by a pocket watch of the 18th century, established an icon that has since developed into a collection that includes a diversity of mechanical functions, dial and case materials, and the slight reworking of dial displays, remaining nevertheless immediately recognizable as a “Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde”.
And as a continuation of the House’s heritage, but with human performing artists this time instead of automata, the brand sponsors the Béjart Ballet Lausanne troupe (since 2013), founded in 1987 by late dancer and choreographer Maurice Béjart – “monstre sacré” reputed for his own unique style and creations, as witnessed in last month’s performance of “The Miraculous Mandarin – Piaf” at the Royal Opera of Versailles on the castle grounds just outside Paris.
Several timepieces from the Jaquet Droz collections are closely linked to travel and dancers’ movements, including the 43 mm Grande Seconde Dual Time introduced this year in three versions: in an 18-carat red gold case with Ivory Grand Feu enamel dial; in stainless steel with silver opaline dial and applied ring, or in stainless steel with black onyx dial and 18-carat white gold applied rings. Large seconds, reference time and date display with hand at 6 o’clock. Self-winding mechanical movement. Power reserve of 65 hours. Priced from EUR16,300 to EUR27,400.
And the 43 mm Grande Seconde Deadbeat, extended this year to include four different versions: in an 18-carat red gold case with Ivory Grand Feu enamel dial or black enamel dial, and in a stainless steel case with silver opaline dial and applied ring or black onyx dial with 18-carat white gold applied ring. Large central deadbeat seconds. Retrograde date display with hand at 6 o’clock. Self-winding mechanical movement. Power reserve of 38 hours. Priced from EUR19,900 to EUR31,000.
As an additional treat, we are showing you here a few seconds of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in movement. Pure emotion, just like the brand that sponsors it.
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