Hands-On with the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute “The Butterfly Journey”

Enamelling and hand-engraving are used to create the finely detailed Chinoiserie dial on the "The Butterfly Journey" limited edition.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 7

Jaquet Droz’s signature style dictates that the time be shown on small sub-dials – the brand’s trademark wristwatch being the Grande Seconde – leaving the rest of the dial a blank canvas for artisanal decoration like paillonnée enamel or eggshell mosaic. The Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey is decorated with twin enamelling techniques and a three-dimensional gold butterfly; Petite Heure Minute means “small hours and minutes”.

The dial itself is off-white grand feu enamel, which translates as “great fire”, a generic watchmaking term for vitreous enamel that’s baked in an oven, fusing glass powder to the dial to create a hard, glossy surface. This is then the canvas for miniature painting: a tiny brush is used to apply microscopic daubs of paint on the enamel dial, creating the finely detailed peonies, the flower that’s the closest China has to a national flower. The look is Chinoiserie rather than Chinese; this could pass for a period object from the 18the century, which is ironically the period during which Pierre Jaquet-Droz was active, becoming one of the leading Swiss watchmakers to the Imperial Chinese court.

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 2

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 1

Affixed to the dial is a small gold butterfly, sculpted by hand out of white gold and then enamelled for contrast. Known as champlevé, the technique calls for hollowing out cells on the surface which are then filled with enamel and subsequently fired in an oven. Though the The Butterfly Journey is a limited edition of eight pieces, all with identical dials, each piece in the series has the butterfly positioned at a different point of the dial, mimicking a flight path from left to right.

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 5

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 6

The case is white gold and a large 43 mm, rendering this considerable chunkier than most ladies’ watches. Nearly two carats of diamonds are set on the case and bezel. And the case back features a sapphire window that reveals the movement, which is a self-winding Frederic Piguet calibre that’s fitted with a solid gold rotor bearing a butterfly relief.

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 3

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey 4

Pricing and availability 

The Petite Heure Minute The Butterfly Journey costs US$64,900 or SFr61,800. It is currently available from authorised retailers.

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