Jaquet Droz is a brand in which technical artistry and symbolism go hand in hand to create watches with a dense content of meaning. What is time if not infinity? This leads to the familiar 8 symbol for infinity, which appears on Jaquet Droz Lady 8 watches but also far earlier, on Pierre Jaquet Droz’ original Grande Seconde watch that he made in the late 1700s. Pierre’s fame was in part due to his incredible automatons, including singing birds, boys who could sign their name, and other mechanical masterpieces.
Today, in the Lady 8 Flower, the upper circle of the case has a lotus flower – a symbol of serenity and poetry, sacred in many Asian cultures – under a sapphire dome which gradually opens to reveal the diamond inside when a pusher at 2 o'clock on the case is pressed. An extraordinary performance that does not interfere with the watch’s timekeeping performance, because the mechanism for the flower automation is separate to that of the movement. Fitting all this into a case just 35 mm wide was a considerable challenge, matched by the beauty of the craftsmanship, above all in the butterfly that appears on the lower part of the dial. The watch is available in two versions, one with the butterfly’s wings painted and engraved in red enamel on a guilloché background, and the other entirely set in blue sapphires against a snow-set diamond background. Each version is a limited edition of eight pieces. Below, the caseback of the Lady 8 Flower:
The Butterfly Journey
The butterfly returns in another Jaquet Droz watch named The Butterfly Journey, and in these pieces, infinity is suggested by its opposite, a fleeting moment that will never return. In each watch, a butterfly is depicted against a backdrop of flowers, but you can only appreciate the real meaning of the two limited-edition 8-piece series when you see them all, and you discover that each watch is like an individual frame in a film, depicting the butterfly’s light, graceful flight.
While the feijoa or peony flowers are painted, the butterfly is sculpted in red or white gold and has wings in champlevé enamel. The white gold version has bezel and lugs set with 264 diamonds. As in the Lady 8 Flower, the movement is mechanical, with the oscillating weight also featuring a butterfly motif. In both these watches, the superb horological workmanship, the precious metals and enamelling generate an object that will last for generations, once again a significant contrast with the evanescent beauty of flowers and butterflies.
For further information, boutique addresses and more, see www.jaquet-droz.com