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Jaquet Droz - Association Automates et Merveilles

Jaquet Droz Association Automates et Merveilles

The brand lends its support to the restoration of three major timepieces led by the Association Automates et Merveilles by sponsoring the restoration of a spectacular Empire-style singing bird pendulum clock operated by a Pierre Jaquet-Droz mechanism.

In a special exhibition in 2012, Jaquet Droz and the Association Automates & Merveilles honored the three leading figures of 18th century watchmaking: Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis and their collaborator Jean-Frédéric Leschot. On this occasion, an incredible number of pieces and information was gathered for the first time in three museums in the canton of Neuchâtel. It therefore made sense for Jaquet Droz to support the association's new project of safeguarding and showcasing the Neuchâtel watchmaking heritage through the restoration of three major pieces: the planetary clock by François Ducommun (International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds), the astronomical clock by Albert Billeter (Musée d’art et d’histoire in Neuchâtel), and the singing bird pendulum clock by Pierre Jaquet-Droz (Watch Museum of Le Locle, Château des Monts).

This last piece will be the particular focal point of the Brand's sponsorship. This clock, 92.56 cm tall and boasting a cabinet adorned with bronze decorative elements, is topped with a cage that houses the singing bird. The cabinet is emblematic of the Empire style, Egyptian revival and Orientalism in vogue under Napoleon with the attributes that are iconic of that period: the sphinx, victories, Egyptian headdress busts, swans and lotus leaves. On the plate, the pendulum clock movement bears the signature "Pierre Jaquet-Droz à La Chaux-de-Fonds". It is likely that it was Napoleon himself who ordered the Jaquet Droz movement for this piece, prior to the cabinet, to offer it to a Princess of Württemberg, a gift that was particularly popular during that period.

jaquet-droz-pendule

Joining the collections of the Watch Museum of Le Locle - Château des Monts in 1984, the clock is quickly becoming a key piece of the museum collections. The clock features a movement powered by a double fusee and chains, chiming the hours and quarter hours on two bells and a crown wheel escapement. The bird's song is produced by a pin-barrel serinette that can play six different tunes on ten flutes. During the melody, the bird pivots on the spot while opening its beak, shaking its tail feathers and puffing up its chest.

As the piece remained non-operational for many years, each component must be disassembled and cleaned. Following this step, each part will be restored respecting the original features. The restoration project will be completed in 2018 to mark the 280th anniversary of Jaquet Droz. Upon completion, the singing bird pendulum clock will be restored as close as possible to the original condition.

The brand

An elegant, outward-looking philosophy that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment is still at the heart of Jaquet Droz's identity. The fine and rare handcrafts practiced at the company’s workshops produce exquisite miniature works of art and automata that combine the best of design with unprecedented levels of horological know-how.

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