Jaquet Droz Please Don't Fall in Love With This Watch
This timepiece is so rare that you will probably never see one, let alone own one
The project has been a closely guarded secret for months. Jaquet Droz is working on a new automaton watch. Which is not unusual for the La Chaux-de-Fonds workshop. But this time, the context is very different. There are three reasons for that.
Man of Mystery
The first is that the central protagonist of the project is a very busy man. Everyone knows his work but no one knows who he is. People think he’s American, but he’s actually Canadian. And no one knows where he lives, except Jaquet Droz. He lives in Neuchâtel.
This mysterious celebrity is John Howe. His artwork was the inspiration for the graphical universe of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, which brought in 6 billion dollars at the box office. Apparently, that’s equivalent to the GDP of Gambia or Liberia. And much of that success was down to the talents of John Howe.
John Howe © Jaquet Droz
New boss, new strategy
The second reason is that Jaquet Droz is under new management. Alain Delamuraz has taken over as CEO, with the clear intention of taking the brand back to its core identity: unique, visionary and exclusive.
The third reason concerns the watch itself. The new strategy will be implemented for the first time in a Dragon Automaton designed in close collaboration with John Howe. The piece has gone back to the drawing board countless times, to ensure it represents the perfect cornerstone for the new Jaquet Droz. It was officially unveiled a few weeks ago. And it surpasses all expectations.
Dragon Automaton © Jaquet Droz
First impression: Jaquet Droz has left the familiar territory of classicism. The Dragon Automaton is strikingly modern. The first iteration comes in a stunning red gold case, matched with a vibrant red strap.
Its 43 mm diameter places it firmly in line with modern tastes. And the technical prowess involved should not be underestimated. Featuring nine simultaneous animations (16 if you count the individual motion of each scale) this automaton is a masterpiece of miniaturisation, comprising 431 parts for the automaton alone (not including the time module). By way of comparison, the Bird Repeater has a diameter of 47 mm, but unlike the John Howe automaton it includes a minute repeater.
Dragon Automaton © Jaquet Droz
It’s important to push past the surface impression of a Dragon watch designed for the Asian market. While it’s true that the dragon has become a symbol of the Middle Kingdom, it would be wrong to assume that’s where it originated.
The dragon is a mythical creature found from Mesopotamia to Slovenia, from India to Greece, and throughout the Celtic lands. The word “dragon” comes from the Latin “draco”, which in turn comes from Ancient Greek. Recent academic research has traced its roots back to Africa, not Asia.
Serial number 1/1
So, how many of these John Howe Dragon Automaton pieces will be available in shops? None. Jaquet Droz has three versions on its website, but there’s no price, no availability info, and no address for a store near you. Instead, there’s an invitation to enquire directly about creating your own unique piece, with a choice of stones, strap and finish (for the dragon). Jaquet Droz has released just one short video of the Dragon Automaton, which gives some idea of the options for personalisation. On that basis, the price would probably come to around CHF 370,000, depending on the configuration.
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.Find out more >
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