Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
November 5, 2019
A Jaquet Droz watch tells so much more than time. It tells a story—one of precision, tradition, innovation, heritage, and imagination. Since the 18th century, the Swiss house has told some of the most remarkable stories in watchmaking through its Automatons. The Jaquet-Droz family created dazzling automata, presented in a touring exhibition to the nobility of Europe and Russia late 1700s. To learn more about this history, Whitewall spoke with Jaquet Droz CEO Christian Lattmann.
Today more than ever, our customers are looking for emotion, beauty, craftsmanship and ancestral know-how.Christian Lattmann, Jaquet Droz CEO
WHITEWALL: What do the Automata represent to Jaquet Droz as a watchmaker?
CHRISTIAN LATTMANN: The Jaquet Droz mechanical animated automata represent the brand’s roots. Everything that represents Jaquet Droz is found within an automaton: watchmaking expertise, craftsmanship, creativity, rarity, beauty, as well as the wonder that can be seen on people’s faces when the watch comes to life. This is the reason why Pierre Jaquet-Droz was considered a genius at the time, and the reason why we continue to perpetuate this know-how today. Surprising and marveling at innovation, while always pushing creativity further, are the twofold requirements to which our timepieces have always responded. Jaquet Droz is considered today as a unique expert in the creation of automata.
WW: Why has it been important to maintain the tradition of the Automata even today?
CL: Today more than ever, our customers are looking for emotion, beauty, craftsmanship and ancestral know-how. It is the hand of Man, inspired by nature, that shapes beauty, and this is what we offer with our exceptional automata.
Inspired by the passion of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, today the brand maintains its commitment to the art of astonishment, marrying fine art with technical know-how. Whitewall asked Jaquet Droz CEO Christian Lattmann about the automata of the 21st century.
WHITEWALL: What has been the most complicated or challenging Automata to date?
CHRISTIAN LATTMANN: Our latest creation named the Magic Lotus Automaton. For each new development, we push the boundaries of what’s possible and we are always challenging ourselves in order to make even more exceptional automaton.
WW: Do you have a personal favorite at the moment?
CL: The Magic Lotus Automaton because it is our latest project, but each touches me personally for many reasons: the risk when we launch the project, because they are large investments, the beauty when it is realized, and the satisfaction when the creation is met with success among our customers and the press. There is now a waiting list for this latest project, and we are proud of it because it is a purely artisanal product. Most of the components are shaped entirely by hand, which adds to the production time. Our customers know and expect this wait, as each piece requires countless hours and numerous Jaquet Droz artisans.
For each new development, we push the boundaries of what’s possible and we are always challenging ourselves in order to make even more exceptional automaton.Christian Lattmann, Jaquet Droz CEO
WW: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the 2019 Automata, the Magic Lotus and the Tropical Bird Repeater?
CL: For each of these creations, we draw inspiration from nature. The theme of birds is a central theme in Jaquet Droz’s work, which we are perpetuating today. In real life, the fastest hummingbirds can beat their wings up to 80 times per second; in the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird repeater, the mechanical hummingbird can beat its wings a staggering 40 times per second as part of a sequence of animations that can last up to 12 seconds to correspond with the chimes of the minute repeater mechanism. The hummingbird also bobs up and down as if hovering in the air while feeding off one of the tropical flowers, just like in real life, and can be activated independently of the minute repeater.
In regards to the Magic Lotus Automaton, we wanted to address the theme of the life circle, through the symbolism of the lotus flower and the seasons, the passing of time, and the symbolism of the Koi carp, embodying resilience through its ability to swim against the current. For each of our watches, we want to tell a story and combine with the work of our artists, we can really talk about a work of art.