THE EXTRAORDINARY HISTORY OF JAQUET DROZ

LONDON AND CHINA

In 1774, Pierre Jaquet-Droz decided to set up a workshop in London, a hub for industry and trade, under the management of his son, Henri-Louis. Completely exhausted by his travels, the latter delegated some of his responsibilities to Jean-Frédéric Leschot. Leschot was tasked in particular with overseeing the business relationship with the prominent trading company James Cox London, whose agents in Canton opened up the Far Eastern market for the Jaquet-Droz Company and for many years represented it in China, India and Japan. Pierre Jaquet-Droz always had a passion for nature and birds which he transcribed through his clocks, snuff boxes, pocket watches and automata. With more than 600 pieces exported to China in 10 years Jaquet-Droz father and son captivated the Qianlong Emperor himself and the Mandarins at the Imperial Court, who all had a keen interest in European mechanical watches and automata. It was the first clockmaking brand to be imported there. Several Jaquet-Droz automata and pocket watches are still carefully preserved in the Imperial Palace museum today.
Orders continued to flow in from all over the world. Pierre Jaquet-Droz set up a team of the best watchmakers to be found in the Neuchâtel Mountains. From 1783, management of the London operation, established in the Bartlett’s Building, was turned over to a new business partner, Henry Maillardet. The Jaquet-Droz family supervised the work of a long manufacturing chain (clockmakers, chasers, jewelers, enamellers, painters and musicians) and handled the administration and the commercial side of all their businesses.

2000 Montres Jaquet Droz is acquired by the Swatch Group and joins its prestige and luxury group. The Swatch Group enables the brand to recapture the success it enjoyed during the Age of Enlightenment and preserve the exceptional heritage of its founder. The Group makes its expertise, technical resources, renowned production system and its international distribution network available to Jaquet Droz. 2002 Launch of the Grande Seconde, a piece inspired by a pocket watch created in the 18th century. The dial of this ageless icon of the company is a refined demonstration of the art of Grand Feu enameling, with the hour and minute display at 12 o’clock overlapping the seconds counter at 6 o’clock.

2008 Launch of the Pocket Watch, that has been the legendary timepiece icon of Jaquet Droz for centuries. This model, created in 1785 still with us today, has become the inspiration for the brand’s flagship, the Grande Seconde Enamel, honoring a philosophy that has remained unchanged since the Age of Enlightenment.

2009 Nicolas G. Hayek takes the reins at Jaquet Droz, assisted by a steering committee. 2010 Marc A. Hayek takes over at Jaquet Droz, with the firm intention of cultivating the spirit of excellence and innovation while continuing to respect the emotional and poetic values that date back to the 18th century.

2010 Montres Jaquet Droz SA moves into its Fine Watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This 2,500 m2 site gives the brand a new energy and the intention of becoming, like its watches: a synthesis of horological expertise and craftsmanship with a distinctive personality that enables it to meet the strong demand from the market and its customers.

2010 The Launch of the Eclipse, an exceptional timepiece displaying 8 stars (a lucky number for Jaquet Droz) and an engraved moon that continuously evolves, changing with each new dawn. This 18th century inspired design evokes both the origins of the brand and its passion for the decorative arts that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment.

2011 One of the most recognizable Jaquet Droz models, the Grande Seconde, is combined with a masterpiece of high-precision watchmaking – the tourbillon. Sapphire and Grand Feu enamel, innovation and tradition… many creative possibilities are opened up. The master dial makers finally decide to place the tourbillon right at the heart of the seconds counter, repositioned at 12 o’clock.

011 Jaquet Droz makes it a priority to develop its Ateliers d’Art within the Fine Watchmaking workshop in order to integrate and preserve the centuries of special expertise that define the brand’s identity. The meticulous work involved in miniature painting, carving, engraving and paillonnée enameling is highlighted in some exceptional pieces in the Jaquet Droz collection.

2012 For many years, whether on the canvas where the painter brings his work into being or the dial where the sculptor applies his relief decoration, Jaquet Droz’s workshops have paid homage to birds and brought them to life. A new automaton, The Bird Repeater, is presented in November. This exceptional piece that involves all the decorative arts has been created in-house, demonstrating the history, expertise and imagination of Jaquet Droz craftsmen.

2013 Jaquet Droz celebrates its 275th anniversary, maintaining the avant-garde spirit and refined taste that distinguishes its founder. After almost 300 years, the link between the Age of Enlightenment and the third Millennium remains intact. At this occasion, the brand inaugurates an exceptional exhibition in Shanghai then travelling around the world and taking the opportunity to unveil to the public the first singing bird automaton on a wristwatch ever created: The Charming Bird. Years of research into mechanisms culminated in a veritable technical feat. Jaquet Droz succeeds in combining the automaton that had made the brand’s name in the 18th century with fine watchmaking techniques to produce a miniature singing bird nestled in a timepiece with unequivocally contemporary lines. Two years later, the masterpiece wins the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the “Mechanical Exception” category.

2015 The brand known by its twin stars reaches the pinnacle of achievement, bestowing the Lady 8 with a breathtaking mechanical animation in the form of a blossoming lotus flower. The Lady 8 Flower is the expression of refined femininity enhanced by the astounding automaton and the virtuosity of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art. Moreover, the brand continues to develop its Ateliers d’Art to keep surprising observers and to perpetuate ancestral skills. A workshop specially dedicated to automata is also now well worth discovering. At the same time, Jaquet Droz renews a focus on a highly confidential complication: the Grande Seconde Deadbeat. An extremely rare complication and masterpiece of precision watchmaking, the deadbeat second was created in the eighteenth century and has been reinterpreted in 2015 in the brand’s iconic watch: the Grande Seconde.

2016 During the course of Baselworld 2016, Jaquet Droz is showcasing once more the art of astonishment through exceptional novelties such as the Petite Heure Minute Thousand Year Lights, the Grande Seconde Off-Centered Onyx and the Grande Seconde Dual Time that extends the iconic Grande Seconde collection with an added complication.

2017 A rendez-vous with emotion: like Gauguin’s exotic paintings, this is an invitation to faraway places and delights for the senses. The Tropical Bird Repeater watch – the only one of its kind in the world – brings together all the watchmaking and decorative expertise of the brand known by its two stars. A piece destined for discerning collectors, the Tropical Bird Repeater is part of a long history at Jaquet Droz, honoring the Enlightenment-era passion for nature and animals of founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Automatons, along with the Ateliers d’Art, represent two of the eight codes of the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture, hand-decorated here by engravers and miniaturist painters. These codes are indispensable to the creation of this scene with its flamboyant colors that emerge like a lush oasis on a mother-of-pearl dial, itself enclosed in a red gold case adorned on the sides of its lugs and on the middle band with an animal motif hand-engraved by the brand’s craftsmen.

2018 To be continued

TO BE CONTINUED