Jaquet Droz, the eponymous watchmaking maison founded in 1738 by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, has paid tribute to the sophisticated automaton timepieces pioneered by its namesake, while also impressing connoisseurs with its array of decorative techniques and rare materials. The latest exclusive piece in its Automaton collection takes both disciplines to the next level, with a dial made of an extremely rare petrified wood and hosting a multi-level animated nature scene. Here’s what you need to know about the Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly, one of the showcase timepieces from 24 watch brands exhibiting at the WatchTime Live virtual collectors’ event on October 22-24.
The 3D moving image on the dial takes its inspiration from a drawing called Le papillon conduit par l’amour (“Butterfly Driven by Love,” below), sketched in 1774 by The Draughtsman, an automaton created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s son Henri-Louis. The dial itself is made from Chinchilla Red, a type of wood petrified 140-180 million years ago and named for the far-eastern location in Australia where it is found. Dating back to the age of dinosaurs, Chinchilla Red was formed by ancient fir trees that were covered in volcanic ash and swept away by lava. One of the rarest and densest such woods known, smoothing its surface requires many hours of manual work.
The watch’s animated nature scene is centered around a cherub in a chariot and a butterfly, set in an idyllic forest. The chariot symbolizes victory and the butterfly represents Cupid, the symbol of love. The figures, as well as the trees and other elements of the forest backdrop are handcrafted from gold. The figures together comprise several dozen hand-etched pieces – stationary and moving — crafted in Jaquet Droz’s own jewelry ateliers. Among the dynamic movements of the automatons are the butterfly’s wings fluttering just beneath the crystal and the wheels of the chariot turning in a realistic motion. Each of the golden trees is only 0.2 mm in height, with slender grooves carved by purpose-built tools.
Behind the autumnal-toned dial, which indicates the time via an off-center black onyx subdial at 12 o’clock, beats Jaquet Droz’s Caliber 2653 AT-1, a self-winding movement with a 22k gold rotor, a silicon hairspring, and a 68-hour power reserve stored in a triple barrel. The automaton is hand-wound by a separate mechanism with a push-button triggering mechanism. The Loving Butterfly is mounted on a rolled-edge hand-made black alligator strap. Proceeds from sales of this 28-piece limited edition will go toward charities devoted to reforestation in the wake of the devastating Australia fires earlier this year.
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