Introducing The Jaquet Droz Imperial Dragon Automaton Red Gold Cuprite Watch

Jaquet Droz told us to hold their beer while they show off their new year of the dragon watch.


Okay, so we know that Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year for some) has already been and gone now, but that doesn’t mean the watches aren’t still coming along. Remember, it’s the year of the dragon not the ‘few weeks of the dragon while we release all our press material’. With that said, Jaquet Droz has released a new piece along the theme of the year of the dragon, and this one might just be one of the best pieces we’ve seen.

At a glance, the Imperial Dragon Automaton Red Gold – Cuprite watch looks eccentric and charming. It tells the time, and it has a little dragon figure on the dial, which seems to be holding some sort of ball, there are also clouds in the fiery red sky, but otherwise, it appears fairly conventional. That would most likely be enough if this were any other watchmaker, but Jaquet Droz has an expansive history of making automata, a history that goes right back to the company’s namesake Pierre Jaquet-Droz, who lived entirely in the 18th century.

As is expected of a watchmaker with the provenance of Jaquet Droz, the Imperial Dragon is unique in that its dial is animated. At the push of a button, nine separate actions occur. These actions include the movement of the dragon’s spine scales, the opening and closing of its eye and jaw, the movement of its claws and tail and the spinning of the orb it’s holding. Jaquet Droz has made a great video showing all of this in action, which can be found on their website; it’s only a minute of your life taken up.

According to Jaquet Drozm, the orb the dragon is holding is made of red jasper and has gold pigments trapped under a clear varnish layer, the red jasper was chosen for its ability to “attract success and abundance”. The dial is made of a stone called cuprite, which supposedly symbolises strength, energy and vitality. It’s not entirely unfitting for the brand; Jaquet Droz says that it was one of the first suppliers to China’s Imperial Courts, having been chosen some 280 years ago, so I guess we’d better take their word for it.

As expected, all this complexity makes the Imperial Dragon Automaton Red Gold – Cuprite watch quite large. Jaquet Droz may be nearly untouched in the horology x automata world, but even they are not magicians. However, at 43mm x 16.96mm it’s still fairly small considering what’s going on inside it. The self-winding calibre 6150 provides the timing element of it, and it includes 29 jewels for the time part of it and another 78 jewels for the automaton. Plus, it has a 3Hz beat rate and a power reserve of 38 hours, although I suspect using the automaton a lot will drop that considerably.

Presented on a burgundy-coloured rubber strap with an 18k red gold buckle, this watch is sure to delight. It’s fantastic knowing that there are still artisans out there making watches like this entirely by hand, and it does give them a bit of an excuse to charge a high price. Case in point, this model costs CHF363,000 including Swiss VAT, so, not cheap but also not your everyday run-of-the-mill watch.