Jaquet Droz Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch: Celebrating 280 Years With Everything You’ve Got (Plus Video)
Can you imagine what went through the mind of the very first person ever to hear a parrot talk? At best, they might have thought they imagined it; at worst, they might have wondered if a demon was trying to trick them.
Having no prior knowledge that a bird could speak and then hearing it in the jungle would be disorienting to say the least, and yet once the confusion passed, I could imagine that it would be the most remarkable discovery of a person’s life. Heck, the earliest stories of talking birds might have led to the fairytales and legends of all sorts of shapeshifters, gods, demons, and magical realms.
And what’s more interesting, there are pretty much no other animals that can mimic human speech – at least in an obvious and clear way – aside from a couple of tenuous examples.
The earliest known reference to a talking bird comes from the fifth century BCE, so throughout human history talking birds seem to have been a fairly well-kept secret. Nobody would believe that a bird spoke to you, so any discussion of a talking animal would surely grow into legends and myths.
If we didn’t have videos of birds speaking all over television, movies, and the internet, it would likely remain an old wives’ tale up to today. The phenomenon has a special place in the human experience thanks to a few groups of birds with this astounding ability; our language even uses the word parrot to mean “repeat, quote, or echo.”
Parrots are indeed one of the main avian groups with this ability, and so it only makes sense that it might be the subject of a watch that can repeat as well. That watch is the Jaquet Droz Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch and while it doesn’t repeat words, it does repeat the time on a set of cathedral gongs and, like the Macaw parrots it features, is stunningly beautiful and a joy to hear.
The Jaquet Droz Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch is a unique piece created to celebrate Jaquet Droz’s 280th anniversary in 2018. It took more than three years and the entire gamut of Jaquet Droz’s expertise to create this minute repeater complet with automata and a highly artistic case.
Jaquet Droz has been known to create stunning works of art featuring a variety of animals and has gone to great lengths to create minute repeaters and chirping automata celebrating sonorous avians.
The Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch is the first to feature the scarlet macaw as its focal feathered friend and to venture into the realm of a unique piece pocket watch. In doing so it has created the largest of the modern Jaquet Droz automaton watches and a breathtaking example of various métiers d’art that the brand has mastered.
First and foremost, the Parrot Repeater is a minute repeater that displays the hours and minutes along with a waterfall animation to show the passing seconds. Beyond that, when the minute repeater is activated, an automaton offers a combination of effects that play throughout the chime.
These include two adult scarlet macaws and two baby macaws as well as a hatching egg (this combination of somewhat mature colorful baby birds and a hatching egg doesn’t make sense biologically, but hey, its art).
When the repeater is activated one of the adults nods its head, while the other bends down to feed a baby. Both of the baby macaws rise up out of the nest to meet the parents, and the largest macaw also spreads its wings. Finally, the egg can be seen cracking and opening briefly while the scene carries out.
The animation continues through multiple actions while the repeater plays, varying in length to match the amount of time the repeater chimes. And those chimes strikes their cadences on cathedral gongs (which are usually 1.5 times the length of regular gongs) as they wrap around the movement an extra 180 degrees for a deeper and often richer sound.
Since this isn’t a small wristwatch there is more room for a cathedral gong, which, given the diameter increase as well, makes for a very full tone. And while the minute repeater sounds fantastic and the automaton is impressive, those features are only a part of a bigger package.
Colorful Jaquet Droz métiers d’art
The sights and the sounds of the Parrot Repeater would be par for the course as far as Jaquet Droz is concerned, as the brand has released many incredible chiming watches featuring bird automata in the recent past.
For the 280th anniversary, the Parrot Repeater needed to be something extra special. This meant the switch to a pocket watch design which would allow for something a little different function-wise, but also provided a much larger canvas to explore the artistic crafts.
The Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch features miniature painting, oven-fired enamel painting, hand-engraving, bas relief engraving, paillonné, and gem setting. Every visible surface has been lovingly attended to in a rich pallet of arts and crafts.
The main dial features a miniature engraving of gold birds and relief figures of flora and fauna in a wilderness scene. The entire dial was then miniature painted to be as realistic as possible. The rear of the case sees an engraved cover featuring enamel-coated engravings and an enamel miniature painting of a lustrous scarlet macaw. Around the edge is the delicate gold foil paillonné, which is applied then protected by a transparent coat of oven-fired enamel.
Moving out to the body of the case we find extensive engraving and stone setting all around the case band, but that pales in comparison to the front cover. The dial of the watch is visible through a slew of gem-set gold vines and leaves in hand-painted enamel.
Overall, the Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch features an astounding 1,071 diamonds and rubies as well as pink, blue, and yellow sapphires and 621 emeralds. They vary in size and placement, with a few especially eye-catching marquise-cut rubies and sapphires at the edges of the cover representing tropical flowers.
The front and rear covers are retained by a clever hidden mechanism that allows each to be opened by a twist of the pendant. The cross bar can be twisted clockwise and the ends pressed to unlatch the front cover, while the process repeated counterclockwise opens the rear cover. The hidden release mechanism is a nice mechanical touch in such a stunning artistic piece.
But the artistry doesn’t end there
The pocket watch also features a red gold chain set with an additional 125 emeralds making the Parrot Repeater home to nearly 1,200 stones totaling 9.8 carats. When you combine all of the painting, engraving, enamel, and stone setting the Parrot Repeater stands out as an impressive piece.
And that is what it is, a unique piece, a masterful one-of-a-kind creation displaying all of the abilities of one of the oldest watch brands in the world.
The Parrot Repeater even comes in a unique case with a rotating stand to display the entirety of the watch with lights and mirrors, and the case itself features even more incredible artistry thanks to two very large hand-painted scarlet macaws on the front. Before you open the case you are already being treated to a display of the skills found within the walls of the Jaqut Droz manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Jaquet Droz has always been known for mind-boggling automatons and the incredible artistic crafts that set it apart from most manufactures, and this anniversary piece is a perfect example of why it persists to this day.
Many historical watchmakers have come and gone, folding after the namesake passed away. But Jaquet Droz has been infused from the beginning with the principles of its founder, and the pieces it creates still hold true to the ideas of creativity and craftsmanship combined with artistic excellence.
It’s also why even though my tastes usually wander toward the avant-garde and the odd, Jaquet Droz has remained as one of my favorite brands.
Jaquet Droz appeals to my softer side, the side that loves to behold the beauty of the world and the sheer brilliance of those who spend their lives dedicated to making things that are visually and emotionally stunning.
The Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch is a good example of skills and creativity that have combined to create a shining example of what humans can do when pursuing excellence. I urge you to take some time to appreciate the Parrot Repeater; it has so much going for it that you may get lost in the jungle of Jaquet Droz.
While you look, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.89 A minute repeater with automaton is already incredible, but the extreme métiers d’art takes it to new heights!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 105.4» 1,033.620m/s2 The beauty of the artistic craftsmanship combined with the mechanical prowess from Jaquet Droz takes this watch to a place that keeps me up for days!
- M.G.R. * 70.2 It would be hard for a minute repeater with automaton to get anything under a 70 in this category, the only reason it doesn’t get a perfect score is it’s all hidden!
- Added-Functionitis * Severe When you combine an automaton and minute repeater, even though the functions don’t give you much more information they make the movement much more intense. For that reason I would recommend prescription-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for a stunning piece of horology!
- Ouch Outline * 12.2 The aftermath of oral surgery! Turns out that tooth pain can be serious. Who knew? Dealing with the intense pain after getting oral surgery is pretty much the worst way to spend a Friday night, but I’d do it all over again if it meant getting my hands on the Parrot Repeater!
- Mermaid Moment * The gems . . . the birds . . . the sound! Do I even need to mention that it took no time to fall in love? I was writing my vows five minutes after seeing this thing!
- Awesome Total * 949 First take the number of components in the awesome minute repeater/automaton movement (668) and add the anniversary the Parrot Repeater is celebrating (280), and to top it off add the number of pieces there will be of this watch (1) for a stunning and bejeweled awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.jaquet-droz.com/en/watches/automata/parrot-repeater-pocket-watch.
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Parrot Repeater Pocket Watch
Case: 56 x 27 mm, hand-engraved red gold with high-fire enamel set with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds and pailloné enamel
Dial: hand-engraved, hand-painted mother-of-pearl with 18-karat gold appliqués
Gem setting: 216 yellow diamonds (0.72 ct), 23 rubies (0.11 ct), 2 marquise-cut rubies (1.1 ct), 111 pink sapphires (0.34 ct), 2 marquise-cut pink sapphires (1.12 ct), 9 blue sapphires (0.047 ct), 2 marquise-cut blue sapphires (3.26 ct), 85 yellow sapphires (0.1 ct), 621 emeralds (2.42 ct); total diamond carat weight 0.72, total colored stones carat weight 9.1
Movement: hand-winding Jaquet Droz RMA88, 48-hour power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds animation; minute repeater
Limitation: one unique piece
Remark: comes with 18-karat red gold chain, with disk set with 125 emeralds (0.58 ct)
Price: 1,000,000 Swiss francs