Since its founding, Jaquet Droz has never stopped traveling the world. Traversing the courts of Europe, the twin-star brand was among the first to discover the Middle Kingdom in the 18th century and introduced its creations to the Forbidden City. This fondness for the East and Chinese civilization have profoundly influenced Jaquet Droz: the historical pieces on display inside the Forbidden City bear witness to the bonds that unite the watchmaking brand and this continent-country as it ushers in the year of the Fire Rooster. For this occasion, the craftsmen of the Ateliers d’Arts have created two new models based on the iconic Petite Heure Minute that are each available in two versions.
The Fire Rooster is the tenth animal in the Chinese zodiac and embodies all positive forces: civil virtue, combat skills, military presence, courage and a sense of protection, as well as the unique ability to mark the rising of the sun through song. For Jaquet Droz, the rooster, an animal whose relationship to the passage of time is evocative, is also part of the great naturalist tradition cherished by the La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaker. It is seen in its poetry as well, that of the Petite Heure Minute, whose dial design provides a blank page on which the Ateliers d’Arts can express its most beautiful artistry. It is therefore based on this iconic model of a passage of time, which has become a field for aesthetic expression, that Jaquet Droz has created four new models to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Two of the models pay tribute to miniature painting. This extraordinary discipline passed down from the Enlightenment masters is expressed in the form of two Grand Feu enamel dials which are housed in 39 mm red gold cases and set with diamonds for the 35 mm model. The rooster, which is accompanied by peonies (known as "the Queen of Flowers") to represent springtime renewal, is depicted on the underside of the hand-engraved oscillating weight in a watercolor style to echo Chinese calligraphy masterpieces. Each model is unique, depicting true miniature paintings that reflect the artist's skilled hand. To the left of the dial, bamboo shoots represent yet another promise of happiness, that of a year full of youth, rectitude and resilience in the face of adversity.
The miniature sculpture technique was used for the other two precious models. Limited to 28 pieces, the first Petite Heure Minute Rooster combines volumes of red gold and its unique light with a dial inlaid with jadeite and mother-of-pearl, which are hand-engraved in the Jaquet Droz workshops. This miniature masterpiece celebrates one of the most symbolic materials in Asia: jade, the symbol of luck and health, which is given as a gift to mark life's most important moments. The dial is then patinated and hand-painted in monochromatic shades that enhance each relief. Ultimately, the splendor of this remarkable creation evokes both the brilliance of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art and the ingenuity of traditional Chinese painting. Jaquet Droz has also created a limited edition of eight entirely hand-painted pieces illuminated by glistening rooster feathers. These extraordinarily realistic paintings beautifully complement the radiance of the diamonds featured on the pieces. The soft sun rising in the mist, the sloping mountainside and delicate peony petals rendered in a black and white palette are further enhanced by the brilliance of precious stones. This exceptional work is repeated again on the oscillating weight, which is crafted in gold, engraved, patinated and decorated in jadeite.
Featuring a movement with a double barrel and a silicon escapement, these four models demonstrate the degree to which Jaquet Droz's passion and expertise in gemstones, sculpture and miniature painting go hand in hand with the dialog that the twin-star brand has always maintained with China. Furthermore, they illustrate how the New Year, a moment of hope, has never departed from a sense of tradition.