A few months ago I had the pleasure of writing an article for a high-end magazine called Roche Elite. They commissioned me to write a feature examining what makes Swiss watches so special. My editorial concentrated primarily on design but also mentioned the history of the brands. In some cases companies have spent centuries cultivating a high level of craftsmanship. A few good examples are Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger LeCoultre, Breguet, Louis Moinet and Jaquet Droz.
Amazingly the history of Jaquet Droz dates back a staggering 275 years. In 1738 Pierre Jaquet-Droz established his own workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Initially he created innovative and highly complicated movements for clocks. This level of craftsmanship gained them a solid reputation in China, Japan and the East Indies. By 1779 they had exported 600 watches to China and attracted the attention of the Qianlong Emperor. Subsequently Jaquet Droz became the first company to sell watches in the Forbidden City. With the sad passing of Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1790 and the French revolution/Napoleonic wars; the prosperity of the business suffered.
In 2000 Jaquet Droz was revived by the Swatch group and now has a thriving 2,500 square metre watchmaking facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Amongst their many exquisite creations the Charming Bird is definitely one of my favourites. With dimensions measuring 47mm x 22.80 (tapering to 15.65mm) this watch is clearly designed to make a bold statement. In my opinion if it were any smaller a lot of the detail would be lost. Even though I haven’t personally worn this timepiece I suspect it would sit comfortably on the wrist. Primarily this is down to the stylish case and use of luxurious 18-Karat white gold. Hopefully when I visit Baselworld in late March I will get the opportunity to wear this beautiful watch.
For a watch writer the sheer existence of the Charming Bird is an absolute gift. Visually the façade is mind blowing and unlike any other timepiece I have ever seen before. The open worked dial is a revelation and perfectly showcases the intricate mechanical movement. I love the simplicity of the design especially the three-dimensional singing bird that is visible through a large aperture (positioned at 6 o’clock). Other key elements include a small sub dial with roman numerals and the delicate blue hour/minute hands. This entire splendor is encapsulated in dome sapphire crystal.
Beneath the sublime exterior lies the highly sophisticated Caliber Jaquet Droz 610. This manual winding movement comprises 21-Jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. There is also an additional 8-jewel mechanism powering the singing bird automation. Functionally the Charming Bird features hours, minutes and a power reserve of 40-hours.
The Charming Bird is limited to only 28 pieces and has a rolled edged hand sewn black alligator strap with matching 18-karat white gold clasp. Pricing still to be confirmed.