Jaquet Droz – The Art of Enameling

Written by Nick A. Meijer 

In 1738, Pierre Jaquet Droz sets up his first watchmaking workshop on a farm called Sur Le Pont in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It turned out to be the start of what is today one of the oldest (Blancpain is 3 years it’s senior) watchmaking brands.

What really set Jaquet Droz’s reputation, was his creation of the finest and most mysterious clocks in the 1770’s. These clocks, so-called “automata” complete with figures like people, animals and birds, were other-worldy machines, beloved by the rich and famous, and, in a certain way, feared: at some point Pierre Jaquet Droz was suspected of witchcraft!


In 1785, his son Henri-Joseph invented the Grande Seconde. Due to larger display the path of the seconds hand would indicate the passage of Time with greater accuracy than in past centuries. The current model line is inspired by these grande secondes.

By the second half of the 20th century, the Jaquet Droz brand was nearly forgotten and largely dormant. This changed in 2000, when the Swatch group bought the brand, and invested heavily in a new positioning. They sought and rediscovered Jaquet Droz’s unique values and identity, and brought it back to the market.


Today, Jaquet Droz distinguishes by its position as a “clockmaker” among the high-end watchbrands. Their Atelier ‘d Art is located in Neuchatel, and houses expertises in painstaking decorative techniques, where painters produce one-of-a-kind pieces on enamel. It also involves covering ornamental paillons (very small gold or silver leafs) with fondant. This technique is invented by Jaquet Droz and transformed and developed in the 18th century.


In 2012, Jaquet Droz presented its horological tour-de-force: the Bird Repeater. This unique watch is limited to 16 pieces, 8 in red gold and 8 in grey gold. The bird automaton is combined with a minute repeater and an inhouse developed hand wound Caliber RMA88 movement.