At the heart of the legend created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz in his manufactory in La Chaux-de-Fonds, birds play an enchanting role in these legendary timepieces. Whether purely decorative or conceived as genuine singing automata, they have been part of the brand’s creative adventure for nearly three centuries.
The Charming Bird, produced in white gold and red gold, in a limited edition of 28 pieces each, celebrates the brand’s DNA by reviving the techniques of the automaton and the miniature and combining them with the artistic skills of the Ateliers d’Art. It reveals a modern, pared-down aesthetic, in which we find a miniature singing bird ensconced in a 47 mm-diameter case with a contemporary look featuring black, anthracite and transparent elements and topped with a dome-shaped sapphire crystal specially conceived to enhance the effect of each ray of light that passes through it.
The artisans of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d'Art spend over twenty hours fashioning each songbird. First the bird's feathers, head and tail are engraved and then the painter adds tiny strokes of color.
Traditionally made with a bellows system, Jaquet Droz songbirds needed to be miniaturized and adapted to fit into a wristwatch. New technologies were specially developed to achieve this: sapphire for the tube and carbon for the piston.
This miniaturization process creates tiny pistons that pump the air, store it and produce the sound, dependent on the speed of the piston and the shape of the bellows opening.
The automaton's mechanism requires three cams; one to direct the bird's rotation, a second to control the opening and closing of the beak, the flapping of the wings, and the movement of the tail; and a third that adjusts the note of the whistle.
While most watches with striking mechanisms draw inspiration from stringed instruments (music boxes) or percussion instruments (minute repeaters), the Charming Bird is designed on the principle of a wind instrument.
The whistle has been painstakingly perfected to ensure it reproduces the 3 different notes of the melody flawlessly and amplified to the required volume.
Technicians also carried out in-depth research on the movement components to ensure their vibrations do not create unwanted sound when it is in operation.
The off-centered hours and minutes are powered by the Jaquet Droz 615 calibre, a self-winding mechanical movement, featuring a single barrel, a balance wheel with regulator screw and a silicon spring. It has a platinum oscillating weight and a 38-hour power reserve.
The Charming Bird is completed with a rolled-edge hand-made black alligator leather strap with black alligator leather lining and black stitches.