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The historic watchmaker Jaquet Droz manages to stay true to heritage codes, through a contemporary design and aesthetic. Examples of that approach can be seen in the newly introduced black-and-white Grande Seconde Ceramic models (limited series that are already nearly sold out) and the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon. Jaquet Droz is also beloved for its automata, debuting this year its Loving Butterfly Automaton, inspired by Henri-Louis Jaquet Droz’s 242-year-old sketch of a cherub in a chariot drawn by a butterfly.
We asked the brand’s CEO, Christian Lattmann, about the balance between identity and innovation.
WHITEWALL: Jaquet Droz prides itself on creating watches that don’t tell just time, but, more important, tell a story. Can you tell us the story behind the Loving Butterfly Automaton?
CHRISTIAN LATTMANN: It’s the story of a gifted watchmaker whose passion lay in creating a sense of wonder—a unique emotion that you experience so often as a child and so rarely as an adult. During the Age of Enlightenment, Jaquet Droz created an automaton called the Draughtsman. The first representation was this drawing, an allegory of love and nature, intended to dazzle and charm his future wife. Today, taking their inspiration from this work, our artists have succeeded in reviving this emotion to create a masterpiece of watchmaking and craftsmanship. When the automaton is activated and you see the fluttering of the butterfly’s wings, you cannot fail to be touched by so much beauty. This is art.
WW: Of what importance are special timepieces like the Loving Butterfly Automaton to Jaquet Droz? What influence can they have in terms of design and innovation?
CL: Jaquet Droz has always been renowned for its automata, and we are considered as experts. Today, we have succeeded in creating real automata inspired by nature that we can wear on our wrists. This is a process that demands extreme miniaturization. At the same time, we have added completely new materials and techniques, as in the case of the Charming Bird, the only wristwatch to feature a songbird. With each project, we add to our know-how and expertise. With the Loving Butterfly Automaton, we have gone one step further by introducing optical illusions. This is what our customers expect of us. Our timepieces are our ambassadors. This is why we put so much into each one, and why our customers are so appreciative. We have more exceptional projects under way, inspired by our highly creative team. I can reveal today that at the end of the year we will be presenting an incredible new automaton called Tropical Bird Repeater, featuring a new minute repeater with a seven-movement automaton inspired by tropical scenery. It will be available in a limited series of just eight pieces.
WW: This year the Grand Seconde was introduced with a moon phase display for the first time. Can you tell us about the inspiration for adding this new complication?
CL: The Grande Seconde by Jaquet Droz has become an iconic timepiece through its minimalist styling and strong identity. We add complications without detracting from the identity of the timepiece. This is no easy task. The moon phase is astronomical. This means that it will remain accurate for 122 years providing that the movement is never stopped. The aim for us is to innovate and to push back the limits of watchmaking art. The moon itself is splendid, with its large, gold design. This model has enjoyed huge success and is set to remain part of our collections for many years to come.
WW: We’ve seen a trend in the watch world toward expanding women’s collections. Are women’s watches a growing market for Jaquet Droz?
CL: The proportion is relatively stable. I should point out, however, that some of our models are not classified by gender because that would place limits on what we do. We prefer to target art lovers, be they male or female. Some sizes fit both. Take the Loving Butterfly Automaton, for example. It reaches beyond the gender divide to appeal to people who are looking for authenticity, craftsmanship, and beauty.
WW: Jaquet Droz timepieces feature incredible craftsmanship, like in the grand feu enamel dials, Ateliers d’Art collections, miniature dials, minute repeaters, and automaton collections. Are you personally drawn to any specific recent artisanal technique releases?
CL: We are fortunate enough to have eight highly qualified artists working exclusively for our brand in our workshops. They are also an integral part of the development process of our new models. Our craftspeople take their inspiration not only from the nature around the Jaquet Droz Ateliers de Haute Horlogerie, but also from what they see on their travels to all corners of the globe. They take their inspiration from a range of artistic techniques that they reinterpret in our Ateliers d’Art. From the use of quail eggs in marquetry to the art of intaglio printing, each new technique is unique, exceptional, and never ceases to surprise us.
This article is in Whitewall‘s winter 2018 New Luxury issue, out now.