Jaquet Droz’s Magnificent Charming Bird Returns In An Exquisite Métiers d’Art Version
Jaquet Droz’s Charming Bird may have been a difficult timepiece to perfect, but the effort was certainly worth all the work the brand’s engineers invested in it.
After many years of development, when launched in 2015 the Charming Bird went on to win the Mechanical Exception category of the 2015 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. With its minimalistic, pared-down visuals, the timepiece put all the focus right on that lovely songbird chirping away underneath the domed sapphire crystal that acts as its cage (see The Whimsical Song Of Jaquet Droz’s Charming Bird).
The colorful bird additionally stands out beautifully against the modernistic, monochromatic look of the black-and-grey color scheme of the dial, movement, and case.
Celebrating the past with inventive mechanics
Adding the songbird to a modern Jaquet Droz timepiece undoubtedly celebrates the brand’s nature-inspired past. It was, after all, Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721–1790) who invented the sliding piston whistle that enabled his automaton “birds” to “sing” using just one pipe.
While this technology is different today from that used in Jaquet-Droz’s time, it is no less awe-inspiring: its inventor used vibration to create the song, while the modern engineers have opted for three sapphire crystal tubes with a carbon fiber piston as bellows to create air compression. The choice of materials was based on resistance to wear and tear as well as friction.
Air enters the first tube, is stored inside the second, and is eventually pushed into the third; this regulates the bird’s song according to the volume of air and the speed of the piston.
Additionally, within the movement the regulator, which contains a silicon balance spring, harnesses the effects of magnetism in order to prevent contact between metal components and to eliminate auditory interference with the bird’s song from within the watch.
The main focus of the Charming Bird is, of course, the colorful little bird cozily ensconced within a sapphire crystal dome (“cage”) that was especially conceived to enhance the effect of light passing through it.
Exquisite artistic crafts
One of the modern Jaquet Droz brand’s fundamental characteristics is its penchant for artistic crafts – and the new Charming Bird simply oozes artistic brilliance.
There is, of course, the exquisite little bird, a miniaturized sculpture in hand-engraved platinum or gold (depending on the case metal).
And the movement plates visible through the sapphire crystal display back also illustrate the art of hand-engraving that Jaquet Droz so admirably masters. They depict a Swiss scene including a bird, a Swiss mountain, and plant life.Jaquet Droz Charming Bird
But what is new here is the entirely hand-decorated dial background, which comprises hand-painted and -engraved mother-of-pearl evoking a Swiss countryside landscape, a historic Jaquet Droz motif.
The traditional technique of paper cutting inspired this representation, which brings together the peak of expertise in engraving and miniature painting skills, the only means of producing the astonishing richness of detail in this work of art.
On the original Charming Bird, the bird really remained the entire focus thanks to the contemporary-styled 47 mm case with its overall sober aesthetic. That focus is now shared with the much more ornate dial style that is certain to appeal to the artistically minded collector.
For more information please visit www.jaquet-droz.com/the-charming-bird.
Case: 47 x 15.75 mm (without dome, 22.85 mm with dome), white gold or red gold
Movement: automatic Jaquet Droz Caliber 615 with silicon balance spring and pallets; a second manually wound movement powers the bird automaton
Dial: hand-painted and engraved mother-of-pearl
Functions: hours, minutes; singing bird
Limitation: 8 pieces in each case metal
Price: 410,000 Swiss francs