Jaquet Droz Conquers Versailles For One Night

Jaquet Droz invited some of its closest friends to spend an evening in the garden of the Orangerie in Versailles, and watch the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, directed by Gil Roman. If at first, a partnership between a watch brand and a ballet company seemed odd, there was only ever one name who could pull it off convincingly, and it did:

Panorama sans titre1

The evening was also an unofficial celebration of the watchmaker’s connection to Versailles. Nearly 239 years ago to the day, Henri Louis Jaquet-Droz, the son of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, was given an audience with Louis XVI, to show the King of France – and the last monarch to reside in the Château de Versailles – three automata timepieces.


The timepieces have of course evolved tremendously since then. Jaquet Droz handed me a Grande Seconde Quantième Ivory Enamel, one of the novelties shown at Baselworld this year, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate watch to wear during the ballet. The timepiece features a double enameled dial, using a technique developed exclusively by Jaquet Droz. The result adds depth to the dial, and accentuates the balance between the interlocking subdials. The indexes are also set in the enamel process to ensure they won’t wear away with time.


It’s tempting, but a little too “easy” to draw comparisons between two different worlds when they collide, but it made sense to see Jaquet Droz and the Béjart Ballet come together. The two share many values, and the grace and precision of the dancers echo in the stunning pieces proposed by Jaquet Droz. But the overwhelming feeling that night was that something special was happening in front of us. The purity of the ballet combined with the power and history of the place made the evening unique and memorable.


Something quite spectacular happened away from the main stage as well. Watch collectors and reporters got together during the entr’acte, but the only thing on their lips was the power of the performance they had just witnessed. Talk about watches was forgotten for a moment, in anticipation of the final “Boléro,” a one-movement orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel.


The partnership between Jaquet Droz and Béjart Ballet Lausanne is expected to strengthen, and the two will share another dance in Mexico on the 19th July. Will the ballet inspire a themed watch? We’ll have to wait and see. It certainly wouldn’t be unwelcomed.  For more information, please visit Jaquet Droz.




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