The spirit of Jaquet Droz takes on a new incarnation in this line of exceptional timepieces, a celebration of the magnificent decorative art of paillonné enameling. This landmark in artistry and watchmaking brings together the legends of the past with the finest of the present.
At Jaquet Droz, modernity goes hand in hand with tradition. The Age of Enlightenment saw the foundation of the brand known by its twin stars—and marked it with the exquisite decorative spirit of the period. Consequently, Jaquet Droz watches are universally acknowledged as much for their mechanical excellence as for the splendor of their dials—painted, engraved and enameled in the Ateliers d'Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The art of paillonné enameling distinguishes itself among these decorative techniques. This delicate art consists of meticulously positioning tiny paillons of gold, one by one, to create perfectly geometrical patterns on the colored enamel itself, and then setting the design under a coat of translucent enamel fondant. To achieve an enamel finish of flawlessly even grain and color requires consummate mastery of the extremely high firing temperatures. Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a virtuoso of these techniques and thanks to him, among others, the art of paillonné enameling was at its zenith in the 18th century. When Jaquet Droz craftsmen resuscitated this process, they first used original paillons from that period. Now they have the expertise to produce their own paillons, adding a new emotional dimension to timepieces by blending the gestures of bygone days and modern times, then crowning this art with the unique coloring of Grand Feu enamel.
Every year brings its own rare and fresh designs, as the brand continues to celebrate such timeless allure. The new timepieces offered as limited editions in 2016 push the boundaries of creativity and beauty even further. This virtuoso decorative art now adorns the most emblematic of Jaquet Droz's families of watches, its graphic lines equaled in their purity only by the glints of light reflected off red gold and the shimmer of colored enamel.
The Grande Seconde sports unprecedented shades of violet and anthracite gray, along with a blue of outstanding luminosity. The same three colors unfold across the Petite Heure Minute 39 mm, while the Pocket Watch swathes itself in blue or red in a nod to the noble tradition of the pocket watch. Femininity is heightened in the previously unseen 35 mm version of the Petite Heure Minute with its deep blue dial—sunray-polished, like all the models in this edition. Lastly, the majestic Tourbillon with its seven-day power reserve is now available in a paillonné version for the first time. An object of infinite care, this model abounds in well-considered detail, with minute attention paid to the blue of its hands, the screw heads on its flanges and the lapis lazuli oscillating weight—a harmony evoking Jaquet Droz's historical expertise in decorative stones and horological complications.
Although the workmanship on these new models abides strictly by the rules laid down during the Renaissance, a spirit of reinvention still whispers through it. This year, the overlayed gold barrettes have been revisited with typical Jaquet Droz finesse—a pinhead of gold, like a tiny bead, is cut and placed by hand at the junction of the two lines, emphasizing the decorative volumes encased in transparent enamel.
Each piece in these limited editions requires extremely painstaking craftsmanship, resulting in a rare contemporary experience where the finest of age-old tradition is united with the best of modernity.